California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that it is clear Sen. Kevin de León will be the next leader of the state Senate.
I think he will be a great leader. Hes adept at both the policy and the political side, Steinberg said as he and de León emerged from an afternoon meeting of Senate Democrats, in which the majority party discussed future leadership of the house but did not take a formal vote.
It was a good conversation and the caucus embraced my message. I think were well on our way. I support Kevin very strongly, Steinberg said.
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he told fellow Democrats that he intends to remain the leader of the Senate until his term ends in November, and that he will call for a vote on de Leóns leadership after the budget is completed in June. It remains unclear whether another candidate for the leadership post will emerge, although Steinberg said he doesnt anticipate anyone else jumping into the race.
Im looking forward to leading when my time comes up, said de León, D-Los Angeles. Im deeply honored to have his support and the support of my colleagues. I love the Senate.
The announcement came a day after Sen. Mark DeSaulnier said he was pulling out of the race because he plans to run for Congress this year. The Democrat from Concord is running for the seat vacated by longtime Rep. George Miller, who announced his retirement Monday.
De León said Tuesday that DeSaulnier had given him his support.
Both de León and Steinberg have been accused by their colleague, Sen. Ron Calderon, of being the focus of an FBI sting. They rebutted the allegation again Tuesday, saying Calderon is the sole target of the federal corruption investigation.
The top jobs in both houses come open this year because of term limits. In the Assembly, Speaker John A. Pérez has to leave office at the end of the year and is running for state controller. Assembly Democrats have not publicly set a timeline for electing the next leader of the lower house.
Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.