Steven Bradford launches campaign for lieutenant governor

The Southern California lawmaker known for his work with reparations and utilities wants to be California’s number two leader.

With Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis running for Governor, a Southern California lawmaker has launched a campaign to replace her. 

State Sen. Steven Bradford (D–Gardena) Bradford announced his candidacy on Monday for California’s number two position in 2026. 


The big picture: Bradford has served in the California Senate since 2016, which followed a stint in the Assembly from 2009 to 2014. 

  • During his time in office Bradford was one of only two state lawmakers to serve on California’s reparations task force and has been pushing reparations bills in the Legislature. 
  • Bradford worked for decades at SoCal Edison, IBM and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps before making a jump into politics in the 1990s when he was first elected to the Gardena City Council. 
  • He is the chair of the Assembly Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. 

What we’re watching: While the race to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2026 has already drawn a crowded field with several high-profile Democrats, the race for Kounalakis’ seat has not heated up. 

  • Bradford became just the second candidate to launch a campaign for lieutenant governor on Monday, following California Treasurer Fiona Ma. 
  • Ma, who has been treasurer since 2019 and initially launched a campaign for governor before switching to lieutenant governor, served as the Speaker pro tempore of the Assembly from 2010 to 2012. 

What they’re saying: “A lot of people hear this job title and think it’s a really sexy position,” Bradford told Politico. “But it’s really in the weeds.”

  • Bradford told the publication that he has no desire to eventually run for governor if he is elected. 
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