Senate Republicans Announce Leadership Transition

Patricia Bates Named Leader-Elect, Jean Fuller to Remain Leader during Transition
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) has decided to step down as Senate Republican Leader. Senate Republicans elected Senator Patricia “Pat” Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) to serve as the next Senate Republican Leader.  Senator Fuller is termed-out next year and wanted to give Senator Bates ample time to prepare for her new role.

“It is humbling to be chosen by my Senate Republican colleagues to serve as the new leader for our caucus,” said Bates. “Senator Fuller’s lasting legacy on our caucus was her ability to bring us all together for the common good. During her tenure, she demonstrated a deep passion to provide all Californians with an opportunity for a brighter future. I will humbly take her leadership baton and work every day for the betterment of our great state.  I look forward to learning from her during the transition period to ensure that the voices of the 13 million Californians that we represent as a caucus continue to be heard in the Senate.”

Bates added, “It is no secret that Republicans face a challenging political environment in California. 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.”

Senator Fuller on the election of Senator Bates as the next Senate Republican Leader:

“It has been my great honor to serve as the first female Senate Leader.  I greatly enjoyed my time as the Republican Leader. We are called as elected officials to serve our constituents as humbly as possible.  Over the last two years, I have made it a priority to do what is best for the caucus and for our constituents. I got into politics to do everything I could to improve the lives of my constituents. I am proud of the accomplishments of our Senate Republican Caucus.”

Senator Fuller added, “I am certain Senator Bates will continue a legacy of leadership through service.  I look forward to preparing her to lead our caucus.  Senator Bates and I will work together to ensure that all Californians have a voice in their State Capitol.”   

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Senator Jean Fuller was the first woman to serve as Senate Republican Leader in the California Legislature. She proudly represents the 16th Senate District.

After receiving encouragement from then-Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to run for office, Fuller won her first election in 2006. She served two terms in the Assembly and is currently serving her second term in the State Senate.

Senator Fuller holds a Ph.D. in educational policy and organizational studies and has over 30 years of experience as an educator. She presided as Superintendent of the largest K-8 school districts in the state and was recognized in 2005 as California Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

Senator Fuller has been recognized as a leader in education and consistently receives high marks for her support of job growth and economic opportunities for Californians.  She was elevated to Presiding Officer in the Senate, making her the first Republican to preside over the Senate in 15 years. 

She has been supported in her pursuits by her husband, Russell Fuller. She is a graduate of CSU Fresno and Los Angeles as well as UC Santa Barbara, and completed supplemental coursework at USC, Harvard University, and Oxford University. 

Bates will succeed Fuller as the second woman in the history of the state Senate to serve in the top leadership post of a party caucus – Democrat or Republican.

Bates grew up in Long Beach and moved to South Orange County four decades ago. Armed with a degree in psychology from Occidental College, Bates began her professional career as a Los Angeles County social worker who worked in neighborhoods suffering from poverty and high crime. She helped people deal with difficult challenges in their personal lives and learned firsthand the limitations of government. Her social worker background has led her to author bills such as SB 232 this year that would create a five-year pilot project to help move families out of poverty through a holistic approach that embraces accountability and incentives.

Bates would later be the driving force behind Laguna Niguel’s campaign for cityhood and became its first mayor upon the city’s incorporation in 1989. She served four terms as mayor and then continued serving as a city council member until her election to the State Assembly in 1998, where she served for six years.

In the Assembly, she served as vice chair of the Assembly Appropriations and Assembly Health Committees; and was the founding Chair of the Republican Women’s Caucus. While serving in the Assembly, Bates was appointed to the Little Hoover Commission; and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to serve on his California Performance Review Commission – responsible for providing recommendations on reforming state government.

In the Senate, Bates currently serves as the vice chair of two committees: Appropriations; and Business, Professions and Economic Development. She has authored legislation to make California’s communities safer, such as Senate Bill 75 to expand the definition of “violent felonies” to include additional crimes deemed to be serious and violent in nature, and SB 69 to create a felony penalty for any convicted sex offender who willfully removes or disables their Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device.

Bates is married to architect John Bates, and they have two adult children and four grandchildren.