LOS ANGELES—California Senate Pro-Tem Kevin de Leon officially launched his bid for the US Senate during a rally Wednesday at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, with hundreds of supporters and fellow legislators in attendance.
De Leon, who is challenging Senator Diane Feinstein, kicked off his speech with a direct jab at the Washington establishment, which he hopes to change as a young Democrat vying for office, which has been held by Feinstein since 1992.
“We are living in unique times, facing unprecedented challenges that require new ideas and new energy,” he told the crowd. “The D.C. playbook is obsolete.”
“Now is the time for a senator who is willing to stand up and be heard, not from the sidelines, but loud and proud from the front lines,” added de Leon, who has been at the forefront of the “Resistance” movement in California against President Donald Trump’s policies.
“We’re overdue for a real debate on the issues, priorities and leadership voters want from their senator,” De León told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. “I think California needs a senator not just fully resistant to Trump’s presidency, but who understands the issues most Californians face every day.”
Since his days in the California State Assembly and continuing during his tenure at the state Senate, de Leon has been an outspoken supporter of Armenian-American issues in the California legislature.
Aside from recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide every year, de Leon was instrumental in garnering support for legislation that recognized the independence and right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh. He also played a central role in securing $3 million for the Armenian American Museum, which Governor Jerry Brown approved in the state budget.
In 2014, de Leon was recognized by the Amrenian National Committee of America-Western Region with its “Legislator of the Year” award during the organization’s annual banquet. That same year, de Leon, who was elected to the California State Senate in 2010, was chosen to become Senate President Pro-Tempre, leading the upper house of the California legislature.
Prior to being elected to the California Senate, De León served four years as a State Assembly member for the 45th district that included Hollywood and more specifically the Little Armenia neighborhood, which is home to the St. Garabed Armeian Church, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, the Armenian Youth Center of Hollywood and the headquarters of the Asbarez newspaper and Horizon Armenian Television.
Among his contributions to local community efforts, de Leon spearheaded the effort to erect signs on the 101 Freeway to direct drivers to Little Armenia. For years, he and his office have helped the Armenian Relief Society’s Hollywood Social Service center by providing assistance and gifts that are distributed during the holiday season. Most recently, through Senator de Leon’s efforts, famed international singer and musician Charles Aznavour received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.