California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon has been coy about his future political plans, but not bashful when it comes to raising money for a future campaign.
That includes nearly $100,000 that flowed into his campaign account from construction and engineering firms just weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature approved a $52 billion tax-and-fee plan to repair California’s roads.
De León (D-Los Angeles) will reach his term limit next year, and his future has long been the focus of speculation.
Though he has never declared his candidacy, he has a political committee set up for a 2018 campaign for California lieutenant governor, and that committee raked in $1.4 million in political contributions in 2017, a state campaign finance report shows.
That haul increased his committee’s cash-on-hand to $2.8 million — more than twice as much as any of the candidates who are actively campaigning to be the next lieutenant governor.
De León has said he hasn’t made a decision about whether he’ll run. But he has privately given his supporters a green light to endorse state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa), a longtime political ally, in the race.
“He’s still deciding and exploring all options,” said Courtni Pugh, one of De Léon’s political consultants. “Everything is still on the table.”
Along with strong support from labor organizations, De León’s long list of donors includes Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, Planned Parenthood organizations, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and renewable energy companies.
After the road repair bill passed, De León also received close to $100,000 from construction and engineering companies in late April and early May. De León received $7,300 donations from the Engineering and Utility Contractors Assn., Granite Construction and a few other construction firms.
The contractors association was a major supporter of the roads bill and joined the governor, De León and other legislative leaders at a rally in support of the legislation.
Emily Cohen, a United Contractors vice president, said the organization has been a longtime supporter of De León. She said United Contractors organized a fundraiser for the senator and that he played no role in that effort.
“We’ve supported Kevin for years. We’ve supported a lot of legislators on both sides of the aisle,” she said. “We’ve supported Kevin before there was any kind of bill.”
Pugh also said the donations came from firms that have supported the senator in the past.