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Caucus elects Patricia Bates as Senate Republican leader

State Sen. Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel was elected Tuesday as Senate Republican leader by the house’s GOP caucus, and will take over April 12 from Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield, a representative said.

Fuller must leave office next year because of term limits, but the effort to find a successor has been difficult as some prominent Republican senators said in recent weeks that they did not want the job.

The next Senate Republican leader faces a challenge of keeping her caucus relevant at a time when the Democrats enjoy two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature, giving them power to increase taxes without any votes from the minority party.

Bates said she will consult with Fuller during the changeover.

“I look forward to working with her during the transition to ensure that the voices of the 13 million Californians that we represent as a caucus continue to be heard in the Senate,” she said.

Bates acknowledged the difficult task ahead.

“It is no secret that Republicans face a challenging political environment in California,” she said. “But 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.

“That is a Republican Party that can attract broad support in California, and I will do everything I can as the next leader to spread that message in every part of the state,” she added.

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