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Openly gay assembly speaker would be California's first

In a surprise move designed to end a brewing battle over who will be the next California Assembly speaker, current Speaker Karen Bass threw her support Wednesday behind rookie Assemblyman John Perez of Los Angeles.

If he becomes speaker, Perez would make history as the first openly gay speaker of the Assembly.

Bass told reporters at a Capitol press conference that Perez had secured enough commitments within the Democratic caucus to pave the way to approval by the entire Assembly.

"I really very deeply believe that John will be a speaker that reflects the strong Democratic values that brought all of us here," Bass said. "The momentum is such that it's time for a resolution."

Bass said the Democratic caucus could vote as soon as next week and that she plans to immediately start working with Perez to set a timetable for the transition of power.

While Assemblyman Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles and others have been jockeying for the job, members of the Assembly said a movement to draft Pérez as the next speaker gained strong momentum in the last week.

Perez, a University of California, Berkeley, graduate with long ties to organized labor, was elected last year in Los Angeles' 46th District. Over the last year, he has served as the Assembly's Democratic caucus chairman.

Bass said she was aware that de Leon was continuing to fight for the speaker's post, for which he has been campaigning for months.

On Wednesday morning, de Leon met with a group of supporters within the Assembly's 17-member Latino caucus at the Sheraton Hotel.

Ten members of the caucus attended the meeting, with seven present pledging their support for de Leon as speaker. Perez is also a member of the Latino caucus, but he was not present.

Read more at SacBee.com

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