California Democrats elected a new leader to the state Assembly on Thursday, choosing San Benito County Assemblyman Robert Rivas after a chaotic, hours-long power struggle for one of the city’s top political posts. the state.
Rivas, 42, will replace Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) in June, marking the end of a month of maneuvering in the lower house of the state legislature. Rendon, whose seven years as president marked the longest tenure since the 1990s, will be removed from office in 2024.
“I’m thrilled to finally have that vote on the books,” Rivas (D-Hollister) joked after the announcement. “We will start this process united.”
Rendon and Rivas clashed this year when Rivas said he got the votes to become president, which Rendon acknowledged, only for there to be no timeline for the transition.
Leadership changes in the Legislative Assembly are often negotiated privately before being made public in a statement by the outgoing and incoming leaders. A formal vote usually takes place when a new legislative session is called, which this year will take place on December 5.
“I am pleased to retain the support of my colleagues to continue as Speaker of the California Assembly and leader of our Democratic caucus,” Rendon said in a statement. “I will continue to work for Californians who need it most and I will continue to put power in the hands of my members, especially those who are underrepresented.”
With a massive turnover among lawmakers in the Assembly, Tuesday’s general election was expected to erode or cement Rivas’ support ahead of a caucus meeting on Thursday and a formal vote on Dec. 5.
Although Rivas’ camp entered Thursday’s leadership vote assured, the meeting became a chaotic scramble for power, with questions about parliamentary procedure and a new name for the speaker briefly put forward: the member of Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), multiple sources told The Times. Low previously angered Rendon by trying to introduce himself as a speaker last year.
Rendon’s laid-back personality and hands-off management style led some to criticize him as not involving himself enough in the development of legislation by the Assembly. Instead, he empowered his committee chairs. Rivas’s ascension next year will likely mean a shake-up among key positions in the Assembly, including those on the committees that determine which bills pass each year.
Rivas was elected to the Assembly in 2018 after serving eight years on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors. The Latino lawmaker was raised by his single mother and grandparents in Paicines, where his grandfather was a farm laborer who joined United Farm Workers in the fight for fair wages.
The Rivas’ Assembly District includes Paicines, as well as Big Sur, Gilroy, Salinas, Watsonville, and other Central Coast communities.
Times staff writers Taryn Luna and Mackenzie Mays contributed to this report.
Los Angeles Times