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Kevin de León
|Member of the Los Angeles City Council|
from the 14th district
October 15, 2020
|50th President pro tempore of the California State Senate|
October 15, 2014 - March 21, 2018
|Member of the California State Senate|
from the 24th district
22nd district (2010-2014)
December 6, 2010 - November 30, 2018
|Maria Elena Durazo|
|Member of the California State Assembly|
from the 45th district
December 4, 2006 - December 6, 2010
Kevin Alexander Leon
December 10, 1966
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||Pitzer College (BA)|
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. 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.
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.
Kevin Leon was born in Los Angeles, to Carmen Osorio and Andrés Leon. Both his parents were born in Guatemala with his father being of full or partial Chinese descent. 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. 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. His mother divorced and De León was raised in the Logan Heights neighborhood in San Diego by his mother. He also spent part of his youth in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico where his stepfather's family was located. He strongly identifies with Mexican culture.
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.
While attending UC Santa Barbara, he began going by Kevin de León though he has never legally changed his name.
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. De León and Nuñez have been close political allies for most of their careers.
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.
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. He also authored AB 962, a measure requiring thumbprints from ammunition purchasers, 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.
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. 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.
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.
De León was elected to the California State Senate in 2010 and became State Senate President pro Tempore in 2014. As a California State Senator, De León has been generally regarded as a liberal and describes himself as a "proud progressive."
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. 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.
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.
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. In 2018, the bill passed both houses of the California State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 10.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. In his argument, De León described the Central Valley as "the middle of nowhere" and "tumbleweeds," drawing criticism. He later apologized.
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.
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.
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.
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. He supported SB 562, a proposed bill to create a single payer health care system in California, which stalled in 2017.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
On October 15, 2017, De León announced his bid to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election. The following day a super PAC created by California political strategists Dave Jacobson and Maclen Zilber was formed to support his candidacy. 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.
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. Despite the endorsement, De León's campaign faced fundraising struggles and low name recognition.
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. 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.
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.
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. De León has never been married.
|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||Rocky De La Fuente||135,278||2.03%|
|Republican||John "Jack" Crew||93,806||1.41%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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%|
|Democratic||Dianne Feinstein (incumbent)||6,019,422||54.16%||-8.36%|
|Democratic||Kevin de León||5,093,942||45.84%||N/A|
| Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district
| Member of the California State Senate
from the 22nd district
| Member of the California Senate
from the 24th district
Maria Elena Durazo
| President pro tempore of the California State Senate