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Kevin de León

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Kevin Alexander Leon (born December 10, 1966), known professionally as Kevin de León, is an American politician.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 50th President pro tempore of the California State Senate from October 15, 2014 to March 21, 2018. He represented the 24th State Senate district, which encompasses Downtown and East Los Angeles, from 2014 until 2018; that year, De León staged an unsuccessful campaign against California's senior U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein. He represented the 22nd State Senate district from 2010 to 2014.

Kevin de León
50th President pro tempore of the California State Senate
In office
October 15, 2014 – March 21, 2018
Preceded byDarrell Steinberg
Succeeded byToni Atkins
Member of the California State Senate
from the 24th district
22nd district (2010–2014)
In office
December 6, 2010 – November 30, 2018
Preceded byGil Cedillo
Succeeded byMaria Elena Durazo
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district
In office
December 4, 2006 – December 6, 2010
Preceded byJackie Goldberg
Succeeded byGil Cedillo
Personal details
Kevin Alexander Leon

(1966-12-10) December 10, 1966 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Pitzer College (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website

A member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, he is the first Hispanic American to hold the former position in over 130 years.[2] Prior to his election to the California State Senate, De León served in the California State Assembly, representing the 45th State Assembly district from 2006 to 2010. In 2019, he announced that he will be a candidate for the Los Angeles City Council in the 14th district in 2020.

Early lifeEdit

Kevin Leon was born in Los Angeles, to Carmen Osorio and Andrés Leon.[3] Both his parents were born in Guatemala with his father being of full or partial Chinese descent.[3] His mother moved from Guatemala to Tijuana, Mexico in the 1960s; she later moved to Los Angeles, a single mother with two children, to work as a housekeeper where she met De León's father.[3] His father was largely absent and his mother married to a man of Mexican descent, taking the name Carmen Osorio Núñez, and relocated to San Diego.[3] His mother divorced and De León was raised in the Logan Heights neighborhood in San Diego by his mother.[4] He also spent part of his youth in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico where his stepfather's family was located.[4] He strongly identifies with Mexican culture.[3]

The first in his family to graduate from high school, he briefly attended the University of California, Santa Barbara before dropping out. He later earned a bachelor's degree from Pitzer College in 2003.[5]

While attending UC Santa Barbara, he began going by Kevin de León though he has never legally changed his name.[6]

Early careerEdit

After dropping out of college, De León worked for One Stop Immigration Center, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that assists undocumented immigrants.[7]

He later became a labor organizer for the California Teachers Association, and served as the campaign manager for Fabian Nuñez's campaign for California State Assembly in 2002.[8] De León and Nuñez have been close political allies for most of their careers.[9]

California State AssemblyEdit

De León first ran for office in 2006 defeating Christine Chavez, the granddaughter of labor leader Cesar E. Chavez, to replace the outgoing Jackie Goldberg as the California State Assemblymember for the 45th district, covering Hollywood and much of Northeast Los Angeles.[9]

As an Assemblymember in 2008, De León authored the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Act of 2008, which invested $400 million in 127 parks in park-poor neighborhoods across the state.[10][11] He also authored AB 962, a measure requiring thumbprints from ammunition purchasers,[12] later signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. The bill was struck down as too vague by Fresno Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton on January 18, 2011, in Parker v. California.[13][14]

In 2008, eyewitnesses on the floor of the State Assembly observed De León casting a so-called ghost vote for Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi on an affordable housing bill, opposite the way she would have voted, when Hayashi was away from the Assembly floor. De León said he had no memory of the incident but also said he did not deny it, either.[15] De León was investigated by then-State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, but did not face any punishment and the vote was later changed. As a result of the controversy, Bass changed Assembly rules to enforce a ban on ghost voting.[16]

In 2009, he was defeated in a bid to become Speaker of the California State Assembly, after too many Assembly members found de León's ambitious nature grating, eroding his support, according to reports in the Los Angeles Times.[8]

California State SenateEdit

De León was elected to the California State Senate in 2010 and became State Senate President pro Tempore in 2014.[17] As a California State Senator, De León has been generally regarded as a liberal and describes himself as a "proud progressive."[18]

Energy and the environmentEdit

Renewable energyEdit

De León in 2014

SB 350, authored by De León and signed into law in 2015, mandates that utilities in California purchase 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 50% from renewable sources by 2030.[19] According to the California Energy Commission, California is already on track to meet these goals, with 27% of energy in 2016 purchased from renewable sources.[20]

In 2012, he co-chaired the successful Proposition 39 campaign which closed a corporate-tax loophole and provided $2.5 billion in revenue for energy-efficiency upgrades in schools.[21]

De León also sponsored SB 100, which would have required the state of California to generate 50% renewable electricity by 2026 and 100% renewable electricity by 2045. The bill failed to pass in 2017 due largely to opposition from some organized labor and energy companies.[22][23] In 2018, the bill passed both houses of the California State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 10.[24]

Clean AirEdit

In 2012, De León's SB 535 was signed into law, requiring the California Air Resources Board to spend at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade revenue to benefit low-income communities across California that are disproportionately impacted by pollution.[25] In 2014, de León’s Charge Ahead California Act created a rebate initiative to make electric cars more accessible to working families and to put at least 1 million electric cars on California roads by 2023.[26][27]

In 2017, De León introduced the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017, which mandates that California enforce air, water, endangered species, and worker protection standards no less stringent than those that existed at a federal level on January 1, 2017.[28]

Cadiz Water ProjectEdit

In late 2017, a bill that would have blocked the controversial Cadiz Water Project, a proposal to mine and transfer groundwater from protected desert habitat in Eastern San Bernardino County to parts of Orange County, was killed by the State Senate appropriations committee.[29] Opponents of the project blamed de León, then President pro Tempore of the Senate, and pointed out that the company behind the project had donated $5,000 to de León's political campaign. Fabian Nuñez, a close ally and donor to de León, also represented company as its lobbyist.[30]

High-Speed RailEdit

De León supported the construction of the state's high-speed rail project, but argued that construction should have started in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, rather than the state's Central Valley.[31] In his argument, de León described the Central Valley as "the middle of nowhere" and "tumbleweeds," drawing criticism.[32][33] He later apologized.[33]

Gun controlEdit

De León is an advocate of gun control. In 2014, he sponsored SB 808[34] which passed both houses of the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

In 2016, De León led the charge in the passage of a package of eleven bills intended to prevent gun violence. These included De León's SB 1235, which created a new framework for purchasing and selling ammunition designed to address the ambiguities of his earlier SB 53, and his SB 1407, requiring a serial number from the Department of Justice before building or assembling a gun.[35][36]

De León has also criticized National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.[37]

De León has been criticized himself for erroneously explaining a "ghost gun" as having a ".30 caliber clip" and the ability to "disperse 30 bullets within half a second" in a press conference on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at the California State Capital in Sacramento.[38]

Affirmative consentEdit

De León co-authored, with State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, SB 967, which required colleges in California to adopt an "affirmative consent standard" and prohibits various affirmative defenses, including prohibiting specified factors that may negate an accused's mens rea (for example testing the question of intention in a crime), in college disciplinary proceedings involving allegations of sexual misconduct.[39]

Health careEdit

De León is a supporter of creating a single-payer health care system. He has promised to support Senator Bernie Sanders's "Medicare for All" legislation if elected to the United States Senate.[40] He supported SB 562, a proposed bill to create a single payer health care system in California, which stalled in 2017.[41]

Sexual harassment whistle-blower legislationEdit

Between 2014 and 2017, the California State Legislature failed to pass several bills which would create whistle-blower protections for state legislative employees who reported "unethical, immoral, or inappropriate behavior." De León did not support these bills and was accused of protecting political allies by activists and his then-opponent for U.S. Senate, Dianne Feinstein.[42][43] In November 2017, more than 300 women in and around the state Capitol signed a published letter, exposing misconduct in California politics as part of the Me Too movement.[44]

Though De León soon reversed his position and dropped his opposition to proposed whistleblower legislation, he received criticism over his motives in not supporting previous bills.[45] At the time, De León shared a residence with California State Senator Tony Mendoza, who was accused of sexually harassing three women who previously worked in his office. Attorneys representing Mendoza's accusers also argued that they had reported harassment to State Senate officials several times in September 2017 before detailing their allegations in a meeting on September 22 — when they were promptly fired by being handed a letter on Rules Committee letterhead.[46]

In February 2018, De León called for a vote of the legislature to expel Mendoza. Mendoza resigned before a vote could be called, claiming the vote was politically motivated.[47]

2018 United States Senate electionEdit

On October 15, 2017, De León announced his bid to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election.[48] The following day a super PAC created by California political strategists Dave Jacobson and Maclen Zilber was formed to support his candidacy.[49] On June 5, De León came in second place in the jungle primary with 12% of the total vote, enough to advance to the November general election. Feinstein received 44% while Republican candidates collectively received just over 33%.[50][51]

De León's 12% was the lowest ever recorded for a candidate who advanced to the general election since California instituted its jungle primary rules in 2016. In July, De León won the endorsement of California Democratic Party at their executive board meeting in Oakland.[52] Despite the endorsement, De León's campaign faced fundraising struggles and low name recognition.[53][54]

On November 6, 2018, De León was defeated by Senator Feinstein, 54.2% to 45.8%. The race had an undervote of around 1.3 million votes compared to the gubernatorial election, likely by Republican voters choosing not to cast a vote for either candidate. De León won many of the same counties won by Republican gubernatorial nominee John H. Cox.[55]

Personal lifeEdit

De León has said that he did not know his father, Andres, but remembers meeting him as a boy. He currently lives in Los Angeles and has an adult daughter, Lluvia Carrasco. Carrasco's mother is San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco.[56] De León has never been married.[57]

Electoral HistoryEdit

Nonpartisan blanket primary results, California 2018[58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 2,947,035 44.12%
Democratic Kevin de León 805,446 12.07%
Republican James P. Bradley 556,252 8.34%
Republican Arun K. Bhumitra 350,815 5.26%
Republican Paul A. Taylor 323,533 4.85%
Republican Erin Cruz 267,494 4.01%
Republican Tom Palzer 205,183 3.08%
Democratic Alison Hartson 147,061 2.21%
Republican Rocky De La Fuente 135,278 2.03%
Democratic Pat Harris 126,947 1.90%
Republican John "Jack" Crew 93,806 1.41%
Republican Patrick Little 89,867 1.35%
Republican Kevin Mottus 87,646 1.31%
Republican Jerry Joseph Laws 67,140 1.01%
Libertarian Derrick Michael Reid 59,999 0.90%
Democratic Adrienne Nicole Edwards 56,172 0.84%
Democratic Douglas Howard Pierce 42,671 0.64%
Republican Mario Nabliba 39,209 0.59%
Democratic David Hildebrand 30,305 0.45%
Democratic Donnie O. Turner 30,101 0.45%
Democratic Herbert G. Peters 27,468 0.41%
No party preference David Moore 24,614 0.37%
No party preference Ling Ling Shi 23,506 0.35%
Peace and Freedom John Thompson Parker 22,825 0.34%
No party preference Lee Olson 20,393 0.31%
Democratic Gerald Plummer 18,234 0.27%
No party preference Jason M. Hanania 18,171 0.27%
No party preference Don J. Grundmann 15,125 0.23%
No party preference Colleen Shea Fernald 13,536 0.20%
No party preference Rash Bihari Ghosh 12,557 0.19%
No party preference Tim Gildersleeve 8,482 0.13%
No party preference Michael Fahmy Girgis 2,986 0.05%
Write-in 863 0.01%
Total votes 6,670,720 100%
United States Senate election in California, 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 6,019,422 54.16% -8.36%
Democratic Kevin de León 5,093,942 45.84% N/A
Total votes 11,113,364 100% N/A
Democratic hold


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  2. ^ "Biography". November 3, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e California Latino Legislative Caucus – How Kevin Leon became Kevin de Leon
  4. ^ a b Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  5. ^ Aron, Hillel (May 3, 2017). "Kevin de Leon Went From College Dropout to California's Senate President". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
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  9. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick McGreevy, By Patrick. "Setback put Kevin de León on the path to Senate leadership". Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  10. ^ Christensen, Jon. "UCLA faculty voice: A smarter way to pay for parks". UCLA Newsroom. UCLA. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  11. ^ "127 Park Projects" (PDF). Senate District 24. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  12. ^ De León, Kevin. "AB-962 Ammunition". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "Parker vs. California: Decision" (PDF). Michel and Associates, P.C.
  14. ^ "Parker vs. California: Ammo Bill Defeated in Court". Gun Owners of California. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  15. ^ "Ghost voting: A long history". SFGate. June 10, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  16. ^ "Assembly leader puts limits on ghost voting". SFGate. June 11, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
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  18. ^ "Kevin de León to take California's 'progressive' ideas to D.C. if elected to U.S. Senate – Inland Empire Community News". Inland Empire Community News. January 8, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
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  20. ^ "Tracking Renewable Energy Progress – Dec 2016" (PDF). California Energy Commission. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  21. ^ "Joint Statement from Senate President pro Tempore Kevin León and Proposition 39 Co-Chair Tom Steyer". Senate District 24.
  22. ^ Megerian, Chris (May 2, 2017). "California Senate leader unveils new proposal to phase out use of fossil fuels to generate electricity". LA Times. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
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  24. ^ Dillon, Liam (September 10, 2018). "California to rely on 100% clean electricity by 2045 under bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown". LA Times. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
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  26. ^ Ayre, James. "SB 1275 Passes — Californian Senate Moves To Accelerate EV Adoption". Clean Technica. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  27. ^ Leon, Kevin. "SB-1275 Vehicle retirement and replacement: Charge Ahead California Initiative". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  28. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-49 California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  29. ^ "Bill targeting Cadiz water transfer dies in Senate committee". San Bernardino Sun. September 2, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  30. ^ Foy, Jennifer. "De Leon carrying water for Cadiz and Trump, unfit to be U.S. Senator". Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  31. ^ Skelton, George Skelton, By George. "Next Senate leader Kevin de León wants Brown to rethink bullet train". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  32. ^ Cavanaugh, Kerry. "Sen. Kevin de León angers the Central Valley with 'tumbleweed' remark". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  33. ^ a b Marcum, Diana Marcum, By Diana. "Senate leader De Leon stumbles through apologies in Central Valley". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  34. ^ "Bill Text – SB-808 Firearms: identifying information". Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  35. ^ Cadelago, Chris (June 20, 2016). "California lawmakers send sweeping gun package to Jerry Brown". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  36. ^ "Senate Passes Sweeping Set of Bills to Prevent Gun Violence". Senate District 24.
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  38. ^ "Anti-Gun Senator Kevin De Leon Makes a Fool of Himself".
  39. ^ "Bill Text – SB-967 Student safety: sexual assault". Retrieved November 15, 2016.
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  41. ^ Mason, Melanie. "California won't be passing a single-payer healthcare system any time soon — the plan is dead for this year". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
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  52. ^ "California Democratic Party abandons incumbent Feinstein, endorses opponent". NBC News. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  53. ^ "De León struggles against Feinstein in Senate fundraising race". mcclatchydc. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  54. ^ Finnegan, Michael. "De León captures California's anti-Trump furor, but struggles to gain traction in run to oust Feinstein". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
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  56. ^ "The Former College Dropout Who Would Be Dianne Feinstein". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  57. ^ Panzar, Javier. "State Senate leader's daughter lands job with his campaign consulting firm". Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  58. ^ "Statement of Vote" (PDF). Retrieved July 15, 2018.

External linksEdit