Tea leaves and committees
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez released committee assignments today, following through on a promise to reduce the sizes of nearly every committee. The result is that members who two years ago may have served on as many as seven committees are now serving on no more than four.
The assignments suggest that the Democratic speaker noticed the closeness of Ventura County rookie Assemblyman Pedro Nava's race in November, and handed him some important assignments that should help raise his profile before he runs again in two years.
Nava was named to the Budget, Higher Education, Insurance and Natural Resources committees. Natural Resources and Higher Education should help him in Santa Barbara, home of numerous green activists and a University of California campus. Insurance should help his fund-raising potential with two key contributer groups -- insurance companies and trial lawyers. And, as a member of the Budget Committee, he will chair the subcommittee on transportation -- where the potential exists to extract a few highway perks for the district.
On the other side of the aisle, maverick Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman was shut out of a vice-chairmanship, the top spot for minority party members. His independent-minded colleague in the Bipartisan Caucus, Democrat Joe Canciamilla was similarly denied a chairmanship. Both are senior members, in their third terms. This suggests that both Nunez and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy are sending a clear signal that those who think and act independently will be punished.
Audra Stickland, the freshman Republican from Moorpark, will be the lead GOP member on the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee. That's a step up from her office assignment, which was handled by the Speaker's Office. She's been assigned a windowless office on the fourth floor, tucked between a large committee room and a stairwell. The office is affectionately known as "the Bat Cave."
Keeping good humor, Strickland remarked this week that at least the office is larger than many.