Over the years, I had the opportunity to work for 9 consecutive Assembly Republican Leaders. To say that leading the minority party in California is a great challenge is an understatement.
Transitioning from being one Senator representing roughly 1 million people to a party leader can prove an enormous task. As I’ve observed up close, it seems like nearly everyone is out to get you when you are the Minority Leader – the Majority Party’s leadership, the Governor, news media, rumblings from Washington . . . and even your fellow Caucus members.
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss this challenge and other issues with Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates for PRI’s podcast.
To listen to my full interview with Sen. Bates, click here.
Asked about this constant balancing act, Sen. Bates said that, “finding the common thread . . . is the job of the leader. Some may have to, and want to, and need to, to represent their people . . . that we’re representing California as a whole, but we’re being respectful of the district. It’s a government of, by, and for the people. They sent us here to represent them – those million people – and they expect me to do that, (and) these 12 other (Republican) members have that same goal.”
Discussing efforts to fight poverty in California, Bates spoke of her past experiences as a social worker in Southeast Los Angeles. “When I had an opportunity to become a decision-maker, as a social worker, we were frustrated with the fact that the programs that were there didn’t really lift people out of poverty, it actually captured them in poverty because of the way the grants were structured,” Bates said.
On the looming state budget fight, Bates doesn’t foresee prolonged budget negotiations this June if Gov. Jerry Brown’s prevails with his priorities in his final budget fight. “If he sticks with what he presented, and he doesn’t let those who want to spend rather than save . . . take center stage, it’s probably not going to be as bad as it’s been in previous years.”
Bates said of the proposal to enact single-payer health care, that “you wouldn’t be able to keep the insurance that you currently have. I think it’s approaching 80 or 90 percent of people are very comfortable with what they have and the cost of that, even though it’s gone up. So, isn’t there a model out there that we can grab on to, modify it to some degree, to ensure that everyone is covered?”
Our chat came as she prepares to celebrate her one-year anniversary in her leadership post this week.
Republican Leaders face the difficult task of keeping their caucus unified, while moving the ball forward. It’s a challenge that has proved very difficult for past Republican Leaders, some of whom never made it a full year in the Leader’s Office. It’s a challenge that Sen. Bates has handled quite deftly during her year at the helm – and will surely continue to handle well far into the future.
Tim Anaya is the communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.