Black Bart Award Nominee: Kevin de León

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

It is tempting to nominate the We Said Enough movement confronting sexual harassment and the women behind the crusade as my Black Bart Award nominee for 2017. The undertaking has changed the culture in the state capitol and changed the politics as well leading to the resignation from office of two state assembly members and who knows how many more legislators might fall from grace.

You could say the entire sexual harassment earthquake is a California phenomenon since it started in Hollywood with the accusations against Harvey Weinstein. The issue and its aftershocks will continue into the new year.

However, for his influence on California politics for the entire year I am nominating senate president Kevin de León as the California political figure of the year.

De León was leader from the beginning in setting up a California resistance to the Trump presidency, which was a dominate theme in California politics the entire year. He took on controversial and high profile issues that generated much buzz in Sacramento and throughout the state.

The senate president successfully maneuvered the controversial sanctuary state bill past objections from law enforcement and others to get the votes necessary and the governor’s signature. Perhaps overplaying his hand, de Leon pushed the single payer health care plan out of the senate forcing fellow legislative leader Speaker Anthony Rendon to take a more responsible look at the bill—and suffer the slings and arrows of supporters in the process. However, de León scored political points with favored groups.

Teaming with environmental activist Tom Steyer and allied with Governor Brown, de León took a leading position on climate issues, although not always successfully. His bill to require all renewable energy in the state by 2045 did not become law.

De León challenged the Democratic Party orthodoxy of senior leadership (think Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein) in taking on California’s senior senator who seeks her sixth term.

There is irony here because de León actually may be on the way out if polls are to be believed. He is well behind Feinstein according to the recent PPIC poll. Meanwhile, the We Said Enough movement may just be getting started.

Still, looking back over the expanse of 2017 and the political mark that the senate president left on this year, I nominate Kevin de León for the Black Bart Award.

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