In Los Angeles, Politics Are More Complex Than a Racist Recording Indicates
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When members of Congress meet for the first time in a year and a half, they typically take part in some kind of ceremony to acknowledge new members or to recognize a retiring senator.
But in Los Angeles, that ceremony is more akin to a funeral.
The first thing Democrats in the state Legislature learned about the new House Speaker in January 2017 is that after a lengthy battle, he had been elected by the GOP to succeed outgoing Democrats, Ed Case and Darrell Issa.
One month earlier, Republicans had won a slim majority in the State Assembly, and by Christmas, the speaker’s party was poised to take control of the chamber for the first time in a decade.
The speaker’s office has not been coy about its political ambitions; it has referred to members of the new majority party as the “California Republican Majority.” And when the first Democratic speaker was sworn in January 14, it took the time to release a video on behalf of their new leader pledging to protect the environment and pass a budget bill — a pledge the speaker couldn’t make before losing the support of his party in his first day in office.
In his first year in office, Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) has managed to get the Legislature to pass a lot of his priorities, including tax reform, higher education and abortion rights.
But all the while, he has had a lot of trouble with a new, powerful new player on the scene: the new majority leader of the state’s House of Representatives, Mimi Walters, who has emerged as perhaps the most successful challenger to Rendon in the new decade.
Rendon, the first lawmaker from the state to head an official legislative chamber, won a sweeping victory in 2011 when he was elected to succeed Pete Wilson as governor.
In the election, Wilson trailed two other candidates: former state treasurer Phil Angelides and then-Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg. But then, at the last minute, Angelides dropped out and Hertzberg decided not to run, and Rendon became governor.
The Republican Party ended up with a 17-to-13 majority, with the Democrats controlling the state Senate for the first time in years.