California Assembly members formally selected Anthony Rendon on Monday as speaker, vaulting the Lakewood Democrat to a position he could potentially hold for almost a decade.
“When the voters extended term limits in 2012, they did so because they believed they would help the Legislature be more thoughtful, more productive and more deliberative,” said Rendon, who could hold his seat until 2024 under new term-limit rules. He said his role would be to help members “develop greater expertise and pursue longer-term policy strategies.”
As California politics begin to shift back toward the middle, I know that Speaker Rendon will bring us to the point where what matters is not whether the idea is sponsored by a Democrat or a Republican but rather by the substance of the ideas.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose
The vote cemented a decision the Democratic caucus made late last year. Rendon does not officially take over from termed-out Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, until March.
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That timeline will elevate Rendon to the speakership before budget negotiations begin in earnest. He spoke Monday of using the budget process to focus on alleviating poverty, a point he also returns to in his emphasis on more money for early childhood education.
“We have the work of creating a better California: a California where half the children in the world’s eighth-largest economy are not in poverty,” Rendon said, including with “the kind of life-changing public education experiences I had.”
In a gesture of solidarity, Rendon received nominations from two rivals for the speakership post – Assembly members Autumn Burke, D-Los Angeles, and Rob Bonta, D-Alameda – and from Republican leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley. Mayes acknowledged it was unusual for a Republican to nominate a Democratic leader but heralded the move as a sign of a “new chapter” in California politics.
The new era to which Mayes alluded includes both extended term limits and an increasingly assertive caucus of business-friendly Democrats whose votes helped propel Rendon to the speakership. Lawmakers said Monday that Rendon would play a key role presiding over those broader shifts.
“As California politics begin to shift back toward the middle,” said Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, “I know that Speaker Rendon will bring us to the point where what matters is not whether the idea is sponsored by a Democrat or a Republican but rather by the substance of the ideas.”
His election marks another milestone: with Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles leading Senate Democrats, both houses will have leaders who are Latino and represent Los Angeles.
Before he won election in 2012, Rendon held leadership positions at the California League of Conservation Voters and Plaza de La Raza Child Development Services. He has made a mark in the Legislature by guiding a $7.5 billion water bond to the 2014 ballot and pushing through legislation banning lead ammunition.