Nunez strips committee chairmanships from two caucus rivals

In a final act of political retribution against intra-party rivals, Speaker Fabian Núñez stripped two former candidates to replace him of their committee chairmanships.

Asemblyman Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate, lost his gavel at the powerful Assembly Rules Committee. He will be replaced by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, a Núñez loyalist and early backer of the speaker-elect Karen Bass.

Lieu will also retain a seat, but not his chairmanship of the Banking and Finance Committee, according to Assembly sources.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantio, D-La Canada, had his chairmanship of the Assembly Higher Education Committee revoked. Portantino will remain a member of the Higher Education Committee. No new chairman has been named for either the Higher Education or Banking and Finance Committees.

 De La Torre will not retain a seat on Assembly Rules.

De La Torre and Portantino were both unavailable for comment. The two assemblymen were among the 10 declared candidates in the race to replace Núñez. Both have tangled with the speaker, and the speaker’s staff in the past. But it was unclear why they were being singled out by Núñez.

Núñez spokesman Steve Maviglio said that it was an “internal caucus matter,” and declined further comment.

It was also unclear Thursday evening whether or not Speaker-elect Karen Bass was part of the decision to punish the two Democrats.

Bass is expected to make more changes when to committees when she takes over as speaker. Many of the committees are now headed by third-term members who will have to be replaced before the new session begins. Among them are some of the house’s most powerful panels, including the Appropriations, Budget, Education and Health committees.

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