Bass beats out Portantino for speakership

The Sacramento Bee
is reporting that Karen Bass of Los Angeles has put together enough
votes to win the Assembly speakership, beating out a crowded field that
included top candidates Anthony Portantino of Pasadena and Kevin De
Leon of L.A.

The deal was apparently reached last night, with exiting speaker
Fabian Nunez helping Bass, his top lieutenant, secure the votes.
Assembly Democrats will caucus in closed session this morning before
officially voting for Bass as speaker in once the regular session
starts at 9:30 a.m. She will be the first African American woman to
lead the chamber.

Portantino gave it a good run, raising lots of money and generating
a fair amount of buzz, with the Sac Bee’s Dan Walters saying as late as
last week that he was the top candidate for the spot. But he apparently
could not beat the strong, L.A.-centric coalition put together by Bass
and Nunez, or come up with a Willie Brown-style, bi-partisan coup
despite his deftness at coordinating with Republicans (he was the only
Democratic member of La Canada Flintridge’s City Council and did just
fine there).

What San Gabriel Valley residents have to consider is whether this
will actually hurt the area’s already poor prospects at securing state
funds. According to Brown’s book, “Basic Brown,” the Assembly has
always been a harsh place, with the losers always suffering for their
perceived impertinence by the winners. Brown was crammed into the
smallest office in the Assembly after voting against then-anointed
Speaker Jesse Unruh and was marginalized after losing a speaker fight
to Leo McCarthy before he himself meted out justice to Charles Calderon
and the Gang of Five, stripping them of their committee chairmanships
when they tried to force him out of the speaker’s seat.

Just as Portantino might have steered more money to the Valley as
speaker, will he have a harder time providing for his constituents for
having challenged Bass? It doesn’t seem that this was a particularly
nasty fight, with most Dems falling in line behind Bass and Portantino
praising the L.A. assemblywoman in an L.A. Times article, saying she
will do a “great job.”

Hopefully things have changed from the rough and tumble Capitol days of the 70s and 80s and any backlash is minimal.

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