Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Hertzberg to Go to Mayer, Brown Upon Leaving Assembly
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
Assembly Speaker Emeritus Robert M. Hertzberg said yesterday he will join the Los Angeles office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw next month as a partner in the government relations practice.
The three-term assemblyman from the San Fernando Valley said he chose the firm in part because of his respect for partner Mickey Kantor, the Los Angeles lawyer who served as President Clinton’s secretary of commerce, and because he saw Mayer, Brown as “a first-rate international law firm, grounded in Midwestern values.”
The firm was created in February out of the transatlantic merger of two commercial law giants, Chicago-based Mayer, Brown & Platt and London’s Rowe & Maw.
Kantor was a major political strategist for Clinton in California before going to Washington, first as U.S. trade representative. He now leads Mayer, Brown’s international trade practice.
In a statement released by the firm yesterday, Kantor called Hertzberg “one of the most talented and respected legislators” to come out of the state Assembly.
“Bob has an instinctive talent for connecting with people, and is also a highly talented lawyer who will add immeasurably to our ability to serve clients in California, in Washington, D.C., and throughout the world,” Kantor said.
Hertzberg is to leave today for London to meet with his new partners. His work will not include lobbying, he said, but will focus on serving businesses that want to be more successful in California.
It is a big move for the ex-speaker, known for his bear-hugs of constituents and adversaries and his bipartisan reputation as a problem-solver. Even before he was elected speaker, Hertzberg was the go-to man in Sacramento for interests who found themselves painted into a political corner.
The State Bar of California chose him to broker compromise legislation to get back in business after the crippling dues bill veto in 1997, and he delivered. He likewise worked out a legislative settlement between San Fernando Valley secessionists and Los Angeles city leaders that allowed the city break-up measure to go to voters earlier this month.
Well-connected to state Democratic Party leaders through his father, a Los Angeles constitutional lawyer, Hertzberg made his mark professionally as a real estate and commercial lawyer while forging ties to the rising Latino political power structure on the Eastside of Los Angeles.
He did legal work for Gloria Molina’s Assembly campaigns, was on Molina’s finance committee during her successful runs for City Council and Board of Supervisors, and represented Molina’s husband, Ron Martinez, on several high-profile matters.
While co-chairing a fundraising group in the early 1990s for Rep. Ed Roybal, the groundbreaking Mexican American congressman (now retired), Hertzberg met activist and UCLA psychiatry professor Cynthia Ann Telles. They married in 1995 and have three children.
He was elected to the Assembly in 1996.
Hertzberg earned the respect of Republican colleagues while remaining a loyal Democrat and fundraising powerhouse during his speakership, which began in 2000 after his Sacramento roommate, Antonio Villaraigosa, stepped down. Hertzberg in turn stepped aside earlier this year to make way for fellow Democrat Herb Wesson of Culver City.
His last Assembly term ends Nov. 30.
Hertzberg has been mentioned often as a candidate for city attorney and for statewide office. He said yesterday he hoped at some point to return to elective politics but would focus for now on family and law practice.
“I’m the first speaker since before Jesse Unruh (in the late 1960s) who chose not to run for other office after leaving,” Hertzberg said. “I was speaker at a time when we were redrawing district lines and I could have run for anything, but I chose not to.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company