Assemblymember Rob Bonta gets a downgrade
as new chair of public employees committee.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | There are rewards and inherent risks when elected officials seek to expand their power. On Thursday, Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta felt the sting of his unsuccessful bid for assembly speaker.

New Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, following up his swearing-in on Monday by announcing his roster of coveted committee chairs, but the fallout for Bonta could have been worse.

Rendon stripped Bonta of his position as chair of the influential Assembly Health Committee. The decision may appear punitive, but unlike another chair, Assemblymember Susan Eggman, who was also removed as a committee chair, Bonta was assigned chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee. Bonta previously chaired the committee shortly after his election in 2012.

Nevertheless, the switch is a downgrade in power for Bonta. The chair of the Health Committee is often the focal point of campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies. The position also allows someone like Bonta, who has quickly gained legislative power since his election in 2012, the ability to further enhance his power in Sacramento and within the Democratic Party.

As evidenced by Bonta’s reassignment Thursday, it appears Rendon is not entirely upset with his rival’s bid for the speaker’s office. In fact, at the recent California State Democratic Party convention, Rendon and Bonta were often seen chatting. A photo of Bonta and Rendon hugging following Monday’s swearing-in this week was tweeted by Bonta.

Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk was also affected by Rendon’s re-ordering of committee chairs. Quirk, also a two-term assembymember, was removed as chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Reportedly, Quirk and Richmond AssemblymemberTony Thurmond both rose in support of Bonta during a closed meeting last year over other candidates, including Rendon. Thurmond, though, is retaining his chair of an Assembly budget sub-committee on health and human services.