State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D–Shafter) abruptly announced Friday that he is resigning his office to spend more time with his family and accept a government affairs job with Chevron Corp.
The departure of Rubio, who was leading the charge to make California’s environmental laws more business-friendly, creates a third vacancy in the 40-person Senate.
“As many of you know, a little over a year ago I decided not to run for the United States Congress to meet the needs of my growing family,’’ Rubio said in a statement. "My time serving since then has been a blessing, but it has also been a challenge. I have missed too many family dinners, bedtime stories and parent-teacher conferences.’’
The senator said in an interview that he was tired of the 300-mile drive from his district to the Capitol and has a special needs daughter who requires attention.
"I have realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change,’’ Rubio said in the statement.
Legislative sources were baffled by the resignation of someone seen as an ambitious rising star. Some wondered if the resignation was a sign that reform of the environmental laws was running into trouble.
Rubio said reform of the California Environmental Quality Act is "still being discussed'' at the Capitol, but that others would have to carry it forward. He declined to answer whether his proposals have met with resistance from Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who last year derailed an attempt by Rubio to rush through changes.
Steinberg is planning to propose a reform package later today.
Rubio's resignation means the Democrats temporarily lose their supermajority, but special elections are being held next month for two districts previously represented by Democrats, and another special election will be held for Rubio's seat.
"I look forward to transitioning into a career that will allow me to seize a generational opportunity and work for a respected California company with deep roots in Kern County near the very oil fields where I was born,'' Rubio said.