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California Senate taps new leader

The California Senate will get a new leader after Democrats on Monday tapped a North Coast lawmaker as the subsequent president professional tem of the higher home, marking a transition on the Legislature’s prime ranks from leaders who symbolize city inhabitants facilities to rising energy for politicians from largely rural districts.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) will take over for Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) at a yet-to-be-determined date in 2024, in accordance with an announcement issued by the 2 leaders. The transition within the Senate comes after a busy weekend of political wrangling over the succession. McGuire, 44, solidified his place with the assist of Atkins, who phrases out of workplace subsequent 12 months.

“I stand here proud to say that when the time comes next year, the next pro tem will be someone who has been a partner on my side for quite a number of legislative and political battles and with me through some of the most challenging times of governing,” Atkins mentioned at a information convention within the Capitol on Monday night. “And I am just proud to be a partner with Sen. McGuire.”

Sen. Mike McGuire, proper, talks to reporters after he was named to succeed President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins because the new Senate leader on the Capitol in Sacramento.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

McGuire praised Atkins as “one of the most thoughtful and effective leaders of our time.”

“It is an absolute honor to be surrounded by the members of this caucus, and I may get a little emotional because words are not enough to express the extent of my gratitude, honor and humility to be able to work with each and every one of you,” McGuire mentioned. “I promise that I’m going to lead with heart and humility and, at the right time, work to be able to continue the success that Toni Atkins has blazed the trail for.”

The change represents a second reshuffling of energy within the Legislature this 12 months and, consequently, a diminished function for Southern California lawmakers. Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) changed Lakewood lawmaker Anthony Rendon because the leader of the decrease home this summer season.

A local Californian, McGuire is thought in Sacramento for his work on wildfire and the surroundings, key points to his constituents in a district that encompasses a lot of the Northern California coast from Del Norte County on the Oregon border down by means of Marin County.

McGuire, who phrases out in 2026, has been an outspoken critic of Pacific Gas & Electric, calling out the corporate for not sustaining its tools, failing to chop again vegetation round energy traces and for inflicting wildfires. As a confidant and No. 2 to Atkins, McGuire was intimately concerned in touchdown coverage offers among the many governor, Senate and Assembly on the infrastructure plan this 12 months and the local weather bundle final 12 months.

“He’s been able to carve out influence. He’s been able to carve out what things look like at the end on legislation,” mentioned David McCuan, chair of the political science division at Sonoma State University. “Mike sees himself as a negotiator and a deal maker.”

Atkins has led the Senate since 2018, when she was sworn in as the primary lady and overtly LGBTQ+ president professional tem in state historical past. She was named president professional tem of the Senate two years after serving as speaker of the Assembly, changing into the primary legislator to carry each management posts since 1871.

Atkins grew up in poverty in rural southwestern Virginia, the daughter of a coal miner and a seamstress. Her upbringing motivates her work within the Legislature, the place she’s an advocate for ladies and households, with a deal with housing, affordability, reproductive freedom and environmental safety.

The president professional tem, who’s amongst a pot of politicians thought-about to be future gubernatorial candidates, gave autonomy to committee chairs but additionally guided the Senate with a gradual hand. She steered the higher home by means of the ultimate 12 months of former Gov. Jerry Brown’s governorship and maintained knowledgeable working relationship with Gov. Gavin Newsom regardless of tensions between Democrats over the governor’s method to policymaking.

She’s been on the helm of the Senate by means of a tumultuous time in state historical past, together with the #MeToo motion, an anti-vaccine advocate throwing menstrual blood on the Senate ground, the Donald Trump period and the COVID-19 pandemic.

McGuire began his political profession on the Healdsburg college board at age 19. He was elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2004 and have become town’s youngest mayor. He joined the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in 2010 and was elected to the state Senate in 2014.

“He works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen in these jobs, and he’s just proved himself time and time again,” mentioned state Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a buddy and colleague of McGuire.

Though his ascension brings new energy to the North Coast, changing into speaker is usually about timing and interpersonal relationships, mentioned Andrew Acosta, a Democratic advisor.

Given that he phrases out of the Senate in 2026, McGuire’s tenure as president professional tem is anticipated to be quick and a bridge between Atkins and whoever follows him.

“It’s probably timing more than location,” Acosta mentioned. “And if the case is, ‘Hey, I’m going to be the transitional pro tem for a couple years and then somebody else can put it together,’ I can see people saying, like, ‘Yeah, that works for me.’”

When requested in regards to the restricted time McGuire has left to serve, Atkins contended that “it’s not the length of time, it’s the quality of the leadership.”

McGuire will take over at a difficult time, each economically and politically. California lawmakers had been compelled to trim their want lists this 12 months in gentle of a $32-billion finances shortfall, a downward development some analysts recommend will proceed within the years forward.

The consequence of the 2024 presidential election will go away California lawmakers enjoying the function of cheerleaders throughout Joe Biden’s second time period or performing because the counterpunch to Republican rule in Washington. The supermajority of Democrats within the state Legislature additionally means leaders face calls for and desires from extra caucus members, whom they should preserve comfortable to remain in energy.

McCuan described McGuire as each extremely hard-working and a individuals pleaser. But Dodd mentioned McGuire has had no downside telling him no over time as majority leader.

“He’s able to deliver bad news or say no to all of us,” Dodd mentioned. “I’ve been told no by Sen. McGuire many times.”

McGuire is eyeing a run for insurance coverage commissioner in 2026. He’s raised greater than $240,000 for the marketing campaign from January by means of June.




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