Kevin De Leon
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Kevin De Leon

Kevin de León
Kevin de León (portrait).jpg
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 14th district

October 15, 2020
José Huizar
50th President pro tempore of the California State Senate

October 15, 2014 - March 21, 2018
Darrell Steinberg
Toni Atkins
Member of the California State Senate
from the 24th district
22nd district (2010-2014)

December 6, 2010 - November 30, 2018
Gil Cedillo
Maria Elena Durazo
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district

December 4, 2006 - December 6, 2010
Jackie Goldberg
Gil Cedillo
Personal details
Kevin Alexander Leon

(1966-12-10) December 10, 1966 (age 53)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationPitzer College (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website

Kevin Alexander Leon (born December 10, 1966), known professionally as Kevin de León, is an American politician serving as the Los Angeles City Councillor for District 14 since 2020.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 50th President pro tempore of the California State Senate from October 15, 2014 to March 21, 2018. A member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, he is the first Hispanic American to hold the former position in over 130 years.[2]

He represented the 24th State Senate district, which encompasses Downtown and East Los Angeles, from 2014 until 2018; that year, De León ran an unsuccessful campaign against California's senior U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein. He represented the 22nd State Senate district from 2010 to 2014. 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 this candidacy for a special election to fill the 14th district on the Los Angeles City Council. He assumed office in October 2020. He is also a lecturer at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.[3]

Early life and education

Kevin Leon was born in Los Angeles, to Carmen Osorio and Andrés Leon.[4] Both his parents were born in Guatemala with his father being of full or partial Chinese descent.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4] His mother divorced and De León was raised in the Logan Heights neighborhood in San Diego by his mother.[5] He also spent part of his youth in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico where his stepfather's family was located.[5] He strongly identifies with Mexican culture.[4]

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.[6]

While attending UC Santa Barbara, he began going by Kevin de León though he has never legally changed his name.[7]

Early career

After dropping out of college, De León worked for One Stop Immigration Center, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that assists undocumented immigrants.[8]

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.[9] De León and Nuñez have been close political allies for most of their careers.[10]

California State Assembly

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.[10]

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.[11][12] He also authored AB 962, a measure requiring thumbprints from ammunition purchasers,[13] 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.[14][15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[9]

California State Senate

De León was elected to the California State Senate in 2010 and became State Senate President pro Tempore in 2014.[18] As a California State Senator, De León has been generally regarded as a liberal and describes himself as a "proud progressive."[19]

Energy and the environment

Renewable energy

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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23][24] In 2018, the bill passed both houses of the California State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 10.[25]

Clean air

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.[26] 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.[27][28]

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.[29]

Cadiz Water Project

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.[30] 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.[31]

High-speed rail

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.[32] In his argument, De León described the Central Valley as "the middle of nowhere" and "tumbleweeds," drawing criticism.[33][34] He later apologized.[34]

Gun control

De León is an advocate of gun control. In 2014, he sponsored SB 808[35] 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.[36][37]

De León has also criticized National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.[38]

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.[39]

Affirmative consent

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.[40]

Health care

De León is a supporter of creating a single-payer health care system. He promised to support Senator Bernie Sanders's "Medicare for All" legislation if elected to the United States Senate.[41] He supported SB 562, a proposed bill to create a single payer health care system in California, which stalled in 2017.[42]

Sexual harassment whistle-blower legislation controversy

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.[43][44] 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.[45]

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.[46] 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.[47]

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.[48]

2018 United States Senate election

On October 15, 2017, De León announced his bid to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election.[49] The following day a super PAC created by California political strategists Dave Jacobson and Maclen Zilber was formed to support his candidacy.[50] 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 the third place candidate, James Bradley, received 8% of the total vote. Republican candidates collectively received 33% of the vote.[51][52]

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.[53] Despite the endorsement, De León's campaign faced fundraising struggles and low name recognition.[54][55]

On November 6, 2018, Feinstein defeated De León 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.[56] De Leon broke the record for most votes by a losing Senate candidate set six years earlier by Elizabeth Emken in California, and became the first person to get 5 million votes in a Senate election and lose.

2020 Los Angeles City Council election

In 2020, De León was a candidate for a March special election to the Los Angeles City Council. The seat had previously been vacated by José Huizar, who was the subject of an investigation into possible corruption charges. In June 2020, Huizar was arrested and charged with several counts of bribery and corruption. De León was elected in the special election to succeed him, and assumed office on October 15, 2020.[57]

Personal life

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 Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco.[58] De León has never been married.[59]

Electoral history

2018 Senate race

Nonpartisan blanket primary results, California 2018[60]
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


  1. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". Sacbee. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Biography". November 3, 2010. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "Former state Sen. Kevin de León will run to replace Jose Huizar on L.A. City Council". Los Angeles Times. February 12, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e California Latino Legislative Caucus - How Kevin Leon became Kevin de Leon
  5. ^ a b Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Aron, Hillel (May 3, 2017). "Kevin de Leon Went From College Dropout to California's Senate President". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ Aron, Hillel (May 3, 2017). "Kevin Leon Went From College Dropout to California's Senate President". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick McGreevy, By Patrick. "Setback put Kevin León on the path to Senate leadership". Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick McGreevy, By Patrick. "Setback put Kevin de León on the path to Senate leadership". Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Christensen, Jon. "UCLA faculty voice: A smarter way to pay for parks". UCLA Newsroom. UCLA. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "127 Park Projects" (PDF). Senate District 24. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ De León, Kevin. "AB-962 Ammunition". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "Parker vs. California: Decision" (PDF). Michel and Associates, P.C.
  15. ^ "Parker vs. California: Ammo Bill Defeated in Court". Gun Owners of California. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ "Ghost voting: A long history". SFGate. June 10, 2008. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ "Assembly leader puts limits on ghost voting". SFGate. June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2018.
  18. ^ McGreevy, Seema Mehta, Patrick. "Kevin de León becomes state Senate leader in $50,000 event". Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ "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 2018.
  20. ^ "Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act (SB 350) Overview". California Energy Commission. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ "Tracking Renewable Energy Progress - Dec 2016" (PDF). California Energy Commission. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ "Joint Statement from Senate President pro Tempore Kevin León and Proposition 39 Co-Chair Tom Steyer". Senate District 24.
  23. ^ Megerian, Chris (May 2, 2017). "California Senate leader unveils new proposal to phase out use of fossil fuels to generate electricity". LA Times. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-100 Energy policies and programs". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ Dillon, Liam (September 10, 2018). "California to rely on 100% clean electricity by 2045 under bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown". LA Times. Retrieved 2018.
  26. ^ "California Climate Investments to Benefit Disadvantaged Communities". California Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ Ayre, James. "SB 1275 Passes -- Californian Senate Moves To Accelerate EV Adoption". CleanTechnica. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ Leon, Kevin. "SB-1275 Vehicle retirement and replacement: Charge Ahead California Initiative". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-49 California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ "Bill targeting Cadiz water transfer dies in Senate committee". San Bernardino Sun. September 2, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  31. ^ Foy, Jennifer. "De Leon carrying water for Cadiz and Trump, unfit to be U.S. Senator". Retrieved 2018.
  32. ^ Skelton, George Skelton, By George. "Next Senate leader Kevin de León wants Brown to rethink bullet train". Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ Cavanaugh, Kerry. "Sen. Kevin de León angers the Central Valley with 'tumbleweed' remark". Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ a b Marcum, Diana Marcum, By Diana. "Senate leader De Leon stumbles through apologies in Central Valley". Retrieved 2018.
  35. ^ "Bill Text - SB-808 Firearms: identifying information". Retrieved 2017.
  36. ^ Cadelago, Chris (June 20, 2016). "California lawmakers send sweeping gun package to Jerry Brown". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2017.
  37. ^ "Senate Passes Sweeping Set of Bills to Prevent Gun Violence". Senate District 24.
  38. ^ "State Sen. Kevin de Leon talks gun control and the NRA". Retrieved 2016.
  39. ^ "Anti-Gun Senator Kevin De Leon Makes a Fool of Himself".
  40. ^ "Bill Text - SB-967 Student safety: sexual assault". Retrieved 2016.
  41. ^ Hagen, Lisa. "Left faces off with Dem establishment in primary fights". The Hill. Retrieved 2018.
  42. ^ Mason, Melanie. "California won't be passing a single-payer healthcare system any time soon -- the plan is dead for this year". Retrieved 2018.
  43. ^ "State Senate passes long-stalled whistle-blower protection for Capitol workers". February 2, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  44. ^ "Feinstein critic Kevin de León failed his own #MeToo test, activists say". September 20, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  45. ^ "Push For Whistleblower Laws At California Capitol Has New Life". November 14, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  46. ^ "De León pressured as sexual misconduct scandal creeps into U.S. Senate race". December 4, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  47. ^ "Sexual harassment controversy threatens to ensnare Kevin de León". The Mercury News. November 11, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ "LA-area State Sen. Tony Mendoza resigns before facing expulsion vote". Daily Breeze. February 22, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  49. ^ CNN. "Kevin León announces he'll run against Feinstein for California Senate". Retrieved 2018.
  50. ^ Wire, Sarah D. "Super PAC forms to back Kevin De León over Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Senate race". Retrieved 2018.
  51. ^ Wire, Sarah D. "Sen. Dianne Feinstein will face Kevin de León in November election". Retrieved 2018.
  52. ^ "United States Senate election in California (June 5, 2018 top-two primary) - Ballotpedia". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2018.
  53. ^ "California Democratic Party abandons incumbent Feinstein, endorses opponent". NBC News. Retrieved 2018.
  54. ^ "De León struggles against Feinstein in Senate fundraising race". mcclatchydc. Retrieved 2018.
  55. ^ Finnegan, Michael. "De León captures California's anti-Trump furor, but struggles to gain traction in run to oust Feinstein". Retrieved 2018.
  56. ^ "United States Senate election in California, 2018". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2018.
  57. ^ "Councilman-elect Kevin de León appointed to vacant LA city seat". Daily News. October 13, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  58. ^ "The Former College Dropout Who Would Be Dianne Feinstein". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2018.
  59. ^ Panzar, Javier. "State Senate leader's daughter lands job with his campaign consulting firm". Retrieved 2018.
  60. ^ "Statement of Vote" (PDF). Retrieved 2018.

External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
Jackie Goldberg
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district

Succeeded by
Gil Cedillo
California Senate
Preceded by
Gil Cedillo
Member of the California State Senate
from the 22nd district

Succeeded by
Ed Hernandez
Preceded by
Ed Hernandez
Member of the California Senate
from the 24th district

Succeeded by
Maria Elena Durazo
Preceded by
Darrell Steinberg
President pro tempore of the California State Senate
Succeeded by
Toni Atkins

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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