THE SPILLING OF MODERATE BLOOD
When new Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles was competing for the job with three other contenders in the fall, he made an effort to court all factions of the diverse Assembly Democratic Caucus. Those moderates who are members of a bipartisan working group believe Nunez made, if not specific promises, at least assurances that their members would be represented in leadership positions under a Nunez speakership. And in the weeks leading up to his ascension to the job, Nunez talked a great deal about bipartisanship and the importance of finding "common ground."
This week, moderate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are feeling betrayed. Lynn Daucher, the Orange County moderate who had been the only Republican to chair an Assembly committee, was stripped of that position in new committee assignments made by Nunez minutes after being sworn in. Democratic moderate Joe Canciamilla, who has made a name for himself as a leading budget wonk, did not get the Budget Committee chairmanship he was led to believe might be coming his way. Joe Nation, a pragmatic Democrat from Marin County, was relieved of his duties as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee. John Dutra of Fremont, the Assembly's most prominent pro-business Democrat, was replaced as chairman of the Transportation Committee.
Another member of the bipartisan working group, Democrat Lois Wolk of Davis, was included in Nunez' prepared swearing-in speech among a short list of members who were singled out for their commitment to specific issues. But when he delivered the remarks, Nunez skipped over the sentence about Wolk.
The assignments Nunez made rewarded some of the Assembly's most liberal members, including Sacramento's Darrell Steinberg, who will become Budget Committee chairman; Monterey Park's Judy Chu, who will take over the Appropriations Committee; and Cindy Montanez of San Fernando, who will be chairwoman of the Rules Committee.