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California state Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg, a savvy, voluble, supremely self-confident transactional attorney, was recently designated heir apparent to Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa. If, as expected, Hertzberg wins, he would step into the job in late April. As a moderate, business-oriented attorney who last year founded a Democratic business political action committee to elect more middle-of-the-roaders, some say Hertzberg represents a paradigm shift embodying new political realities. Crucial to Hertzberg’s ascendancy is his personal style. Famed for his convivial, back-slapping, “let’s get together and work this out” style, Hertzberg is called “a lively, humorous hugaboo” by one lobbyist. But the notion of Hertzberg as a soft, loveable, huggy bear sort of guy is flat out wrong, according to observers both to the left and right. This teddy bear has teeth, they say, and makes a tough, formidable opponent. “He hugs you and whittles you down through his loveyness,” grouses one Republican.

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