California Labor Federation officials have voted to endorse Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) as the powerful organization’s next leader, sources confirmed to POLITICO.
The non-binding vote by the body’s executive council will not immediately elevate Gonzalez to a new role or cause her to leave the Legislature because Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski has not stepped down or reached the end of his term. Pulaski will work with the organization to craft a succession timeline.
“There was a vote on a recommendation for Lorena Gonzalez, but it wasn’t binding,” spokesperson Steve Smith said.
Why it matters: The California Labor Federation is one of the most influential forces in union-friendly Sacramento and in California campaign politics, and Gonzalez is one of labor’s most resolute allies in the Capitol. Gonzalez’s assertive legislative style has led to significant policy wins for labor, and her ascension to the top of the Labor Federation would mean the organization is led by someone with deep knowledge of Sacramento and a track record of success.
It would also mean Gonzalez would give up her chairmanship of the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee, and her departure would deprive Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) of a key lieutenant.
Gonzalez’s office declined to comment. She is running for reelection in 2022, which would be her final two-year term in Sacramento before term limits force her out in 2024.
The background: The San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council launched a campaign earlier this year to draft Gonzalez as the Labor Federation’s next leader despite the fact that Pulaski still held the top job. Gonzalez responded at the time by noting there was not a vacancy.
In an October memo obtained by POLITICO, Pulaski described creating a committee of labor leaders to examine “the elements, qualifications, qualities and experience needed for next Executive Secretary-Treasurer,” with a goal of a transition in spring of next year.
What’s next: Pulaski and the Labor Federation will determine when there’s a leadership change. At that point labor officials would need to take a formal vote on the next executive secretary-treasurer.