State Senate leader Steinberg predicts De Leon will succeed him

State Senate leader Steinberg predicts De Leon will succeed him
Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), shown speaking on a bill before the Senate, is expected to become the next president pro tem of the Senate, current leader Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told the Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday that Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has sewn up the votes to succeed him as president pro tem and that he will hold a formal floor vote on it this summer, state officials said.

Steinberg made the comments during a closed-door caucus meeting, acknowledging that he expects De Leon will take his place as leader of the Senate, a day after Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) dropped out as a leading contender for the position.

Steinberg said in a weekly radio interview before the Caucus meeting that he felt De Leon would take over at the end of Steinberg's last term at the end of this year.

"I plan to serve as the leader of the Senate until the end of my term," Steinberg said in a live interview on Sacramento radio station KFBK. "Kevin De Leon will be a terrific leader and I think he will be the next leader of the state Senate."

Steinberg said he has supported De Leon to become the next president pro tem because of the qualities he brings to the job.

"He has shown terrific leadership ability and he knows how to get things done," Steinberg said in the radio interview. "He understands both the politics and the policy and I think he will do great when the time is right."

De Leon said in an interview that he has "way more" than the 15 votes in the Democratic Caucus needed to become the next pro tem, including support from DeSaulnier.

"I am deeply humbled and honored to lead this Senate after Darrell leaves," De Leon said. "I love the Senate and I love my colleagues."