What You Need to Know About California’s Kevin de Leon

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has served since 1992, will have at least one challenger in 2018: State Senator Kevin de León, who currently serves as president pro tempore of the state Senate.

Those outside California — or his home district, the 24th — may not be familiar with this rising, and left-leaning, California politician, so here’s what you need to know.

de León was born and raised in Southern California to Guatemalan parents. He became the first in his family to graduate high school and later attended the University of California Santa Barbara, along with Claremont Colleges. de León’s background includes education and community organizing, with a focus on citizenship education and immigration rights.

From 2006 to 2010, he represented the 45th Assembly District, which spans a portion of Los Angeles, before moving to the California Senate. There, de León represented the 22nd and later 24th districts — the change was the result of redistricting. Now, de León is terming out of the state Senate, so if he wants higher office, he must run for Congress, Senate or the governorship.

de León has been heavily supported by unions and professional organizations throughout his career – including teachers, law enforcement and health care providers — with a strong record on civil liberties. In the last year, he’s established his credentials on the left, and he’s positioned himself as part of the anti-Trump “resistance.”

He’s pro-immigrant

It’s perhaps no surprise that de León has championed immigration issues during his time in the state’s legislature. His work has included a driver’s license program for undocumented immigrants, limitations on how ICE can use local law enforcement, legal support for DACA recipients and fair pay for domestic workers. de León has also noted that his family includes undocumented immigrants, which highlights the personal roots of this fight.

He’s pro-environment

California’s legislature is famously progressive on environmental issues, and de León is right there with them. He’s specifically addressed environmental racism, asking the state to dedicate resources to environmental quality in low-income communities of color. de León has also promoted renewable energy, anti-pollution efforts and environmental protection for workers; in addition, he’s supported the creation of parks and green space.

He’s pro-gun control

de León was involved in a number of attempts at gun control legislation, including tough standards that were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. His proposals have included the use of thumbprint locks for guns and restrictions on the sale of ammunition.

He’s pro-women’s rights

de León was one of the authors of the state’s controversial “affirmative consent” bill, also known as the “yes means yes” law. This legislation spells out a legal standard for consent that stresses proactive engagement on the part of both partners. The law was designed to combat the state’s campus sexual assault crisis by making it clear that the absence of a no doesn’t mean “yes.” He has protected funding for childcare and women’s health.

He’s pro-infrastructure

Part of de León’s work in state government has included promoting investment in bridges, roads and other transit infrastructure, along with flood control — an issue that came into stark relief with the Oroville Dam. He’s also worked to increase affordable housing stock in the state, specifically addressing concerns about homelessness.

He’s pro-Medicare for all

Feinstein has famously taken a more conservative stance on health policy, but de León is invested in a state single-payer health care plan. And he’d likely continue to pursue it on the federal level.

He’s going up against a giant

Senator Feinstein has been a leading light of California progressive politics for decades, and she has tremendous clout in Washington. Her base is very loyal, and it includes key Democratic figures and donors who will likely support her in 2018. de León would need to raise substantial funds to make his case to Californians outside the Los Angeles area.

de León’s lack of experience may count against him with voters who want to leverage the Washington establishment to make change, but it could be a selling point for voters who feel that U.S. politics needs an outside influence.

Photo credit: Neon Tommy

58 comments

Jennifer H
Jennifer Hyesterday

It will be an interesting run.

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S26 days ago

noted

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E28 days ago

brian f
At least I DO think, brian.
I see you're back on attacking journalists because they make a wonderful salary. They also do a ton of public service and donate bags of THEIR money to causes they believe in. YOU ???
I hear they offered Bill o'Reilly a $100,000,000 contract AFTER he had just paid off yet another woman he had abused ( $32.000.000)
I think you have your priorities backwards

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Winn A
Winn A29 days ago

Noted

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Brian F
Brian F29 days ago

Rhoberta E I wondering who does your thinking. You defend corrupt Democrats like disgraced liar Donna Brazille, who passed debate questions to Hillary, and was hired by Tom Perez, the corrupt head of the DNC, who fired all the Bernie Sanders progressives, who run the party, so they can continue their corruption. You don't need to comment on this site, because you're a sellout like the corrupt corporate Democrats who you defend. Darlene was right about you, and you're just a troll, who has nothing to add to this site. If the Democrats supported slavery you would defend them. Corporations own both corrupt parties and our media, unfortunately, you defend the corruption in the Democratic party, that is blocking Bernie Sanders from having any power, so they can continue their corruption. Paid liars like Rachel Maddow makes $30,000 an hour on MSNBC, and correctly bashes Republicans, but defends the equal corruption in the Democratic party, and bashes Bernie Sanders. You need to learn how to not believe the lies of our corporate media.

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E29 days ago

brian f

BOT. I was kind of wondering who does YOUR thinkin for you. Pretty sure it's just an ongoing loop .Done ANY reading lately or are you just here to trash anyone who dares say anything against your script.
Sounds actually like YOU don't need any marijuana legislation unless it improves your memory

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Brian F
Brian F29 days ago

Mike K Most of the Democrats you are defending like Nancy Pelosi who is worth 100 million dollars are refusing to support single payer universal healthcare, because they are corrupt like the Republicans. The Dems are blocking Bernie Sanders from having any power, so they can continue their corruption, and lose to this fraud Trump again in 2020. It's time you support Bernie Sanders, and stop defending the corrupt corporate establishment wing of the Democratic party that cheated Bernie Sanders out of his primary, has an unfair super delegate rule that gives the incumbent over 400 super delegates, and caused this fraud Trump to win. Jill Stein didn't cause Trump to win, it was the corruption in the Democratic party.

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Brian F
Brian F29 days ago

Rhoberta Eactually believes Mike K's moronic post. Do you ever think for your self Rhoberta, E, or do you just march lock step with corporate fake Democrats like Mike K, who defend the corruption in the Democratic party that cheated Bernie Sanders out of his primary, anointed a horribly corrupt Wall Street shill, Hillary, and caused this fraud Trump to be elected. Tom Perez the corrupt leader of the Democrats just fired all the progressive Bernie bros so the Democrats can continue their corruption unabated. Corporations own both corrupt parties and our media, and corrupt corporate Democrats you and Mike K are defending like Diane Feinstein are extremely wealthy, and refusing to support single payer universal healthcare, marijuana legalization, free colleges, or a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, because they are corrupt and corporate owned like the Republicans. Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America, and the Democrats are shutting him out of power, so they can continue their corruption, and lose to this fraud Trump again in 2020.

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Jaime J
Jaime J29 days ago

Thank you!!

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Mike K
Mike Kellyabout a month ago

Gary Stewart: "Trust me I understand as a long time conservative"

Nope. Sorry, Gary. Can't trust anyone claiming to be conservative. 51 "long time conservatives" in the Senate just voted to increase the deficit by $1,500,000,000,000 (1.5 TRILLION dollars) after years of beating their breasts claiming to be fiscal "conservatives".

Conservatives don't conserve anything. Money, environment, energy, social values, NOTHING.

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