SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The power struggle in the California Assembly is raising questions about what’s next for lawmakers in that chamber and how it will impact the work they need to get done between now and the end of the year.
Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, will remain the Assembly’s leader after another Democrat, Assembly Member Robert Rivas, claimed he had the support to take over.
Rivas, D-Salinas, walked out of the chamber Tuesday night leaving some with more questions than answers.
The Democrat from central California claimed last week he had enough votes from his fellow Democratic assembly members to oust Rendon.
But he formally agreed Rendon should remain the assembly’s leader until at least the end of the current legislative session after Democrats met behind closed doors for six hours Tuesday.
“It was exactly what I expected; this is the first step. I look forward to beginning to unify our caucus and to move the work of the assembly forward,” Rivas said.
Rivas has served in the legislature for four years. Meanwhile, Rendon has been speaker of the assembly for six years—which some consider a lifetime in the role.
“Family business stays family business,” Assembly Member James Gallagher said.
Gallagher, the Republican Minority Leader, said his party wanted to stay out of the Democratic drama.
“I’m less concerned about who the speaker is and more concerned about how we help the people of California,” Gallagher said.
The power struggle in the assembly comes as lawmakers face a deadline to pass the state budget June 15 and an upcoming election. Some said which democrat leads the assembly likely won’t change the outcome of either.
“If you look at the philosophical differences, there isn’t much,” Steven Maviglio, a Democratic strategist, said.
Maviglio said he was a consultant for Rivas last year but had nothing to do with this recent action.
He and others noted the Democratic debacle comes after criticism of Rendon’s handling of a single-payer health care bill that died earlier this year, changes in committee leadership, and other decisions he made as speaker that lawmakers did not agree with.
“I think it’s largely personality, style and effectiveness, and I think that’s why a majority of members wanted a change,” Maviglio said.
With the upcoming election, more than a dozen new lawmakers will be sworn into the Assembly later this year, leaving no guarantees for Rivas and Rendon.
“Things can change anytime. The speakership is not a fixed election position; it can change at a moment’s notice,” Maviglio said.