State Sen. Michael Rubio resigns
Senator was to represent Porterville
State Sen. Michael Rubio, a moderate Democrat in the 16th District, abruptly announced Friday he was resigning his position.
The unexpected resignation will create a vacancy that will drop Democrats below the two-thirds threshold they need to pass tax changes or override vetoes. The loss, however, is expected to be temporary and not have major impacts on the majority party’s clout.
Rubio, from Shafter, announced that he was stepping down immediately to take a government affairs job with Chevron Corporation. He was in the middle of his first term in the Senate after being elected with 60 percent of the vote in 2010.
Rubio’s district was redrawn during redistricting in 2010, but the new boundaries that take in Porterville do not go into effect until after the November 2014 election. However, Rubio had already began to make acquaintances in the Porterville area.
“I was just stunned,” said John Corkins, long involved in politics, but mostly with Republicans. However, he had arranged for Rubio to visit Portervile. “He was just down here and spent some time with us.”
In a statement Friday morning, Rubio cited family issues as his reason for stepping down.
“My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, from whom we have learned a great deal. Our youngest child, who has special needs, has given me great perspective as to life’s priorities and our eldest has reminded me that the most critical decisions are made at home and not under the Capitol dome. I have realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change.”
At the same time, Rubio said he learned of the job with Chevron, which he described as “a company that I have a great deal of respect for.”
Rubio consulted his attorney and said he will not be lobbying. Neither he nor Chevron would disclose his salary with the San Ramon-based company.
“In this role, he will have responsibility for advancing the company’s interests in California state politics and public policy, supervising a team of legislative and regulatory analysts and advocates in Sacramento,” Chevron spokesman Morgan Crinklaw said in a statement.
State campaign finance records show Chevron gave the maximum contribution of $3,900 in each of the last two election cycles to Rubio’s Senate campaign, for a total contribution of $7,800. Chevron donates to most lawmakers.
Rubio was making a base salary of $90,525 as a member of the Legislature along with daily expense payments that can add up to about $30,000 a year. California lawmakers do not receive pensions.
Rubio said his family will remain in Sacramento so his youngest child, who has Down syndrome, can receive care at the University of California, Davis MIND Institute, a research center that works on neurodevelopmental disorders.
Corkins said his departure opens the race for that seat. “You are in a fairly tight Republican district,” he said. Rubio was considered a moderate Democrat. “It will be a wide open race. There will be a lot of jocking for that position.”
The resignation drops Democrats to 26 seats in the 40-member Senate, one shy of a supermajority. The outcome of special elections to fill their seats this spring could lead to vacancies in the 80-member Assembly, as Democrats run in the Democratic-leaning Senate districts.
Because Rubio is stepping down in the middle of his term, his 16th Senate district, which includes Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties, will hold a special election under the previous map, said Allen Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target book, which analyzes legislative and congressional races. Democrats currently hold 50 percent registration compared to 32 percent for Republican in that district, but the new district will have 46.5 percent Republicans to 26.8 percent Democrats.