Fabian Nunez, the fiery Democratic assemblyman from Los Angeles set to ascend to the powerful speakership position, told a Spanish-language Mexico City newspaper he has “declared war” on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Assemblyman Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles

Nunez, 36, a Mexican immigrant and former amateur boxer who has risen quickly from freshman assemblyman in December 2002 to majority whip to the speakership of the 80-member California Assembly, told La Cronica Schwarzenegger was targeting new immigrants with his policies.

“I have already personally declared political war on Schwarzenegger,” he was quoted as saying, “that is the reason I was elected by my supporters. This is only the beginning of the confrontations with Governor Schwarzenegger. In a meeting I had with him, I advised him that the Democrats will not allow him to step on our principles, which are to defend the rights of immigrants and the Californios.”

That is a very different message than he is giving to English-speaking audiences and journalists in California.

He told the Sacramento Bee Nov. 21: “I look forward to working with him. I think we’re going to find so much common ground that we’re going to make (Republican legislative leaders) nervous.”

Nunez first came to prominence in California politics in 1994 when he led an effort to defeat Proposition 187, the successful statewide ballot initiative that sought to deny public-school education and medical care to illegal aliens. He then helped organize the successful challenge of the measure’s implementation before the California Supreme Court.

Schwarzenegger angered Nunez and some other Hispanic activists when he followed through on his campaign promise to repeal SB 60, a law that allowed illegal aliens to get California driver’s licenses. Nunez was one of the champions of the law.

Pending in the Legislature is Nunez’s AB 25, which would require state agencies to accept foreign identification cards as valid, provided security and other conditions are met.

Nunez has close ties to Los Angeles education and labor unions, having previously served as political director for the county’s Federation of Labor and government relations director for the city’s public schools.


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