California Democrats lost their veto-proof two-thirds control over the state legislature after the surprise resignation of a senator from the oil-producing Central Valley region to take a job with Chevron Corp.
With two other Senate seats already vacant, the resignation of Senator Michael Rubio drops the Democrats down to 26 in the chamber, one vote short of their recently gained supermajority. Party leaders don’t anticipate losing it for long, though.
Rubio, whose Bakersfield-area district is about 110 miles (180 kilometers) west of Los Angeles and a four-hour drive from Sacramento, said he was quitting to have more family time and to join Chevron as manager of California government affairs. Kern County, which includes Bakersfield, is the state’s top oil-producing county. While Republicans outnumber Democrats there, Rubio won his seat with almost 61 percent of the vote in 2010.
“My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, from whom we have learned a great deal,” Rubio, 35, said in a statement on his website. “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.”
Rubio, of Shafter, won a Senate seat after serving as a Kern County supervisor. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has two weeks to call a special election to replace Rubio.
In the November elections, California’s Democrats gained enough seats in both chambers of the legislature to give them the two-thirds control needed to pass tax increases and override Brown’s vetoes, without any Republican support.
Lawmakers hadn’t used that power before Rubio stepped down, though it had some Democrats dusting off their most-ambitious ideas, previously impossible to pursue because of firm Republican barriers. Among those objectives were altering Proposition 13, the 1978 initiative that capped property-levy increases and spurred a national anti-tax revolt.
The Democrats have expected to lose their two-thirds control at least temporarily as certain lawmakers from both chambers seek other offices. Two senators left this year when they were elected to Congress. Democrats have said they expect to regain their supermajority power because the districts Rubio and the two others represented are considered safe for their party’s candidates.