Although a hopeful for the position himself, state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino this week applauded the naming of Karen Bass to replace Fabian Nuñez as Assembly speaker when Nuñez is ready to step down, likely in late August.
“Karen Bass is an outstanding choice for speaker and I look forward to working with her very closely,” Portantino told the Valley Sun in an interview this week.
Portantino was one of seven male Assembly members who had sought the leadership post. The caucus was due to vote on the matter March 11, but a caucus meeting last week elected Bass. A full vote by the Assembly followed.
Bass, 54, will be the second woman to hold the post in the Assembly. She is currently the majority leader and a close ally of Nuñez, who had publicly taken a stance of neutrality in the contest, but reportedly worked behind the scenes for Bass.
Bass was a leading backer of an unsuccessful measure to relax term limits and give Nuñez a chance to continue in the Assembly. Bass is in her second term in the Assembly, which means she will be term-limited out in two years.
Many had expected the caucus to choose a first-term member to assure continuity of leadership. Bass was also thought to be considering a run for state Senate or Los Angeles City Council, but she has promised to serve out her term.
Bass is the latest in a string of members from Los Angeles who have held the speakership, following Nuñez and Anthony Villaraigosa. The speaker sets the agenda of the Assembly, manages majority committee assignments, and is a member of the so-called “big five” that works with the governor on budget and other issues. The others are president pro tem of the Senate and majority and minority leaders in the Assembly and Senate.
Several San Gabriel Valley representatives were mentioned as speaker candidates, including Portantino, Ed Hernandez of Baldwin Park, Chuck Calderon of Montebello, and Hector de la Torre of South Gate. One of the losing candidates might be in line to be majority leader.
Portantino is running for re-election this year, and has more than $400,000 in his campaign account. In early filings, he has a potential Democrat opponent in Sanjay Basal of Temple City. Filing as a Republican is Brian Fuller of La Cañada. A potential libertarian candidate is Thomas Logan of Eagle Rock.
Portantino has also set up an issues committee, Moving Forward California, which he said will be in place to take positions on state issues.