SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Assembly has picked its first openly gay speaker.
Assembly Democrats on Thursday unanimously backed John Perez, the chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, to be its next speaker.
Perez will hold one of the most powerful positions in state government. A cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Perez was elected to the Assembly last year.
He was challenged in the speakership race by Democratic Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, a fellow Hispanic lawmaker. The nomination now goes before the full Assembly, but the candidate with the most Democratic support usually wins because Democrats hold a majority of seats in the 80-member chamber.
He will take over the position from Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who was elected by her colleagues in February 2008.
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