SACRAMENTO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Democratic Assemblyman John Perez appeared in line Thursday to become the California Assembly's first openly gay speaker, observers say.
Pérez, a freshman lawmaker and a cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, emerged in recent weeks as a top contender, the San Francisco Chronicle said.
Outgoing Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat from Baldwin Hills in L.A. County who plans to step down by early 2010, says Perez has the backing of a majority of the Assembly's Democratic caucus, including herself, and enough votes (41) to land the job.
Two other Los Angeles Democrats are in the race but one of them, Felipe Fuentes, has thrown his support to Perez. The other candidate, Kevin de Leon, has the backing of the Assembly Latino caucus.