But before it could coalesce behind any candidate, Wesson had succeeded in securing commitments from several of its members, including leader-elect Marco Firebaugh of Los Angeles--a feat several lawmakers cited as a prime example of Wesson's political smarts.
"There really wasn't a candidate in the [Latino] caucus that had everyone's support," said Assemblyman Tom Calderon (D-Montebello), a rival who commanded a bloc of moderate votes, but ultimately bowed to Wesson. He is now running for state insurance commissioner.
If he is indeed elected speaker, Wesson will undoubtedly receive attention as California's highest-ranking African American politician. At a time of ebbing black political power throughout the state, fellow lawmakers said he will stand as proof that an African American can still rise to the top.
But Wesson said Monday that he did not want to discuss what that accomplishment meant to him, calling it a topic for another time--the moment he is elected speaker.
"I'm a human being first, who happens to be African American," Wesson said. "Right now is not my time. The Assembly can only have one speaker, and the speaker right now is Bob Hertzberg."
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* Born: Nov. 11, 1951
* Residence: Culver City
* Education: Bachelor's degree in history, Lincoln University
* Career highlights: Currently chairs the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which oversees legislation dealing with gaming, the state lottery and the Public Records Act, among other topics. Prior to his election to the California Assembly in 1998, served as chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. He also served as chief deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden.
* Family: Married to Fabian Wesson. He has four sons.