Eleni Kounalakis is the current lieutenant governor of the State of California. Kounalakis is a member of the Democratic Party. She has a background in diplomacy and the real estate development business.

The next California governor election is not slated to be held until 2026. The present Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom would be barred from running for another consecutive term by state law. But one of his allies has already staked her claim on a campaign for the office.

Kounalakis announces gubernatorial candidacy.

Eleni Kounalakis is running for governor of California, the Associated Press reports.

Her early entrance into the race has caught the attention of several onlookers. Perhaps especially since she would be double-duty as a candidate and lieutenant governor for such a prolonged period. The Los Angeles Times notes that the quick announcement of her intentions could mean a financial advantage for her.

Former State Controller Betty Yee has also announced her candidacy to become the next governor. Yee is currently the vice chair of the California chapter of the Democratic Party. Current Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is thought to be a potential candidate. Bass is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and speaker of the California State Assembly.

Another former State Assembly speaker, Toni Atkins, is considered a possibility.

Atkins is now the president pro tempore of the California State Senate. State Attorney General Rob Bonta is another name that has been mentioned. Bass, Atkins, and Bonta are all also Democrats.

Kounalakis was first elected as lieutenant governor in 2018. They eventually prevailed handily in California's unique electoral system over State Senator Ed Hernandez.

Once again, Hernandez is a fellow Democrat. In 2022, Kounalakis was re-elected in a landslide over Republican candidate Angela Underwood Jacobs. Underwood Jacobs had been the deputy mayor of Lancaster, California, near Los Angeles.

Previously, Kounalakis had been the United States ambassador to Hungary, appointed in 2010. She was also an official with the Religions for Peace organization and the Port Commission Board of San Francisco, California.

Is a first-generation American

With the maiden name Tsakopoulos, Elani Kounalakis was born in Sacramento, California. Her father, Angelo, and uncle, George, immigrated to the United States from Greece. They would create a successful family business.

In 2000, she married noted journalist Markos Kounalakis. They have two sons. Eleni's sister, Chrysa, is married to George Demos. Demos is a former official with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a Republican political figure in New York.

Kounalikis holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College. She would follow that up with a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.