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
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.”
“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.”