California Senate Republicans Elect Patricia Bates as Leader

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Republicans in the California Senate elected Sen. Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel as their new leader on Tuesday.

In April, she will succeed Minority Leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield, who is termed out of office after next year. Fuller said she decided to step down and will work with Bates to help her transition to the new role.

Republicans make up less than a third of the California Senate, with 13 seats. Democrats hold 27 seats.

“It is no secret that Republicans face a challenging political environment in California,” Bates said in a statement. “Republicans embrace taxpayers who want a more efficient government, parents who want better schools and safer streets, and citizens who want their constitutional freedoms protected. … I will do everything I can as the next leader to spread that message in every part of the state.”

She will be the second woman to serve as the state Senate’s Republican leader. Fuller was the first.

Bates was elected to the Senate in 2014. She serves as the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee and the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.

She previously served in the Assembly, from 1998 to 2004, and as an Orange County supervisor, from 2007 to 2014. The Southern California Republican was a social worker in Los Angeles County before she became Laguna Niguel’s first mayor in 1989.

“I congratulate Senator Patricia Bates on being elected by the Republican Caucus to be their new leader,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said in a statement. “Her career in social work helping our most vulnerable communities, and her leadership at local, county, and state levels will prove essential.”