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How skilled is new Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez?

Let us count the ways.

Assembly colleagues showered the Los Angeles Democrat with praise in seven nominating and seconding speeches consuming about 30 minutes Thursday on the Assembly floor.

Adjectives used to describe the first-term legislator included tough, generous, empathetic, passionate, fair, analytical, intellectual, respectful, engaging and articulate.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, talked of Pérez's "values and skills that were honed on the streets of east Los Angeles and borne by a personal calling to help the sick, the poor, the disadvantaged and the working class."

"He has the ability to bridge philosophical and ideological differences" and the "ability to work with people of all points of view to find common ground," Calderon said.

"I believe he has the ability to be one of the most effective speakers in California history," Calderon said.

Assembywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, said that Pérez was "influenced by his family's working-class values" and that "by dedicating his career to serving others, he became a voice for the underrepresented."

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano noted Pérez's "insatiable curiosity for factoids" and his "great sense of irony and a great sense of humor -- and you need that in your armament to be speaker."

Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, praised Pérez's leadership, dedication and "his ability to advocate for working families and fight for a safer environment, a cleaner environment, while at the same time understanding the need to create jobs."

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, described the nascent Assembly boss as "someone who cares, someone who understands, and someone who leads."

Assemblyman Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, added that Pérez has the ability to "bargain collectively for those downtrodden in California," and possesses the temperament and intelligence to lead.

"He is in plain fact a leader -- he can't help himself," said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

"You have to be somebody extraordinary to rise to the top so quickly," she said of Pérez, whose election to the Assembly in 2008 marked his first public office after a long career of working for labor unions, community activism, and service on numerous boards and commissions.

There was no talk Thursday of walking on water.

After listening to the Pérez accolades, Republicans said thanks but no thanks. They nominated their own caucus leader, Sam Blakeslee, to oppose the Democrat in the Assembly floor vote.

The party-line tally ended 48-26.


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