SACRAMENTO — State Sen. Michael Rubio resigned unexpectedly Friday, a move that drops Democrats below the two-thirds threshold they need to pass tax changes or override vetoes.
The Democrat from the San Joaquin Valley town of Shafter, which is near Bakersfield, announced that he was stepping down immediately to take a government affairs job with Chevron Corp. He was in the middle of his first term in the Senate, after being elected with 60 percent of the vote in 2010.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Rubio said the job of a legislator had kept him away too often from his wife and two daughters.
"With me, family comes first. And over the holiday break, my wife and I, through a lot of thought and prayer, made a decision that I would not be running for re-election," he said.
At the same time, he learned of the job with Chevron, which he described as "a company that I have a great deal of respect for."
He said his family will remain in Sacramento so that his youngest child, who has Down syndrome, can receive care at a research center.
With two Democratic-leaning seats already vacant in the Senate, Rubio's resignation temporarily drops Democrats to 26 seats in the 40-member chamber, one shy of a supermajority.
It's not clear who might succeed Rubio. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg released a statement Friday wishing Rubio well in his new endeavor.
"Michael is a good friend, a thoughtful policy maker, and his resignation is a tremendous loss to the Legislature, his constituents, and the State of California," Steinberg said.