Assembly position speaks to Frommer

Ryan Carter

Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Burbank) has apparently been approached

by fellow legislators urging him to run for Speaker of the Assembly.

His name, along with a few others, is being bounced around as a


possible successor to Herb J. Wesson Jr. (D-Culver City), who will

step down next year, when his term expires.

“I’m looking at it as a possibility,” Frommer said. “It’s

flattering. It’s a tough job, but I am thinking about it. My primary


job now is that I’m focused on my district.”

Among the official powers of the job, a speaker has the power to

allocate funds for the operation of the Assembly and approve

committee and commission appointments.

Frommer is not the only legislator in the Assembly whose name is

being considered.

Assembly members Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), Fabian Nunez (D-Los

Angeles) and Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) also have expressed interest


or been tapped for the speakership, said Assemblyman John Longville

(D-San Bernardino). The 48-member Assembly Democratic Caucus will

vote on a new speaker in 2004.

Though the speakership is a powerful position because it allows

the speaker to bring more resources to his or her home district, it’s

also a challenge to lead an entire caucus, officials said.

“It’s like trying to herd 48 cats,” said Bob Mulholland, campaign

advisor for the state Democratic Party, referring to the 48 Democrats


in the Assembly of 80 lawmakers.

Frommer, whose district spans from Burbank to Eagle Rock, was

elected in 2000. Focusing on environmental and health issues, he was

named 2002’s “Top of the Class” among the Legislature’s most

outstanding freshmen in the California Journal.

“You have to be sensitive to the interests and needs of other

members of the Assembly,” Longville said of a good speaker, while

declining to give an opinion on Frommer. “You can’t take them where

they don’t want to go.”

Republicans agreed.

“Given the political makeup of the Assembly, it is essential that

Democrats choose a speaker who is willing to work with Republican

leadership in the Assembly,” California Republican Party spokeswoman

Karen Henretty said. “Democrats need Republicans to pass the budget,

and it essential that the speaker be willing to work with Republican


Frommer has had to interact with Republicans as a chairman of the

Assembly Committee on Health, where he works with Keith Richman (R-La


“Keith has had a good relationship with Frommer,” said Richman’s

chief of staff, Dan Pellissier. “They seem to get along well.”