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Assembly Speaker Vows to Step Down

September 30, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D-Culver City) said Monday that he would step down as leader of the 80-member body after the March 2004 primary election.

Although Wesson's Assembly term does not expire until December 2004, four other Democrats -- Dario Frommer of Los Feliz, Joe Nation of San Rafael, Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles and Jenny Oropeza of Long Beach -- have been jockeying for several months to replace him. So far, none has gathered enough support to oust Wesson.

"Up to this point, no one in our caucus has been able to get 41 votes, for whatever reason," Wesson said. "So, in order to make sure that that happened and to move the ball forward, I decided to indicate that, after the March primary, I intend on stepping down. Hopefully, by that time, somebody will put the votes together. If they don't, I'll have to rethink it."

A vote could come sooner than March. Nation sent a letter to all 48 Democrats in the Assembly on Monday, saying that the speakership race "is dividing the caucus and diverting attention" from important issues. He called for an election on Jan. 12.

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