Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Rural(ish) straight white guy becomes California senate's speaker pro tem

Mackenzie Mays brings us this feature of Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) in yesterday's Los Angeles Times.  Here's the lede: 
On a foggy January morning in his hometown nestled in Northern California wine country, state Sen. Mike McGuire was at an elementary school doing a dance called the “wheelbarrow” and explaining insurance policy to children who were more eager to talk about their 4-H pigs.

The Sonoma County Democrat then rushed off, driving past rolling green hills and dewy vineyards, to have coffee with firefighters who are banking on him to help a region that has been repeatedly devastated by wildfires and often feels overlooked by state leaders.

At the Healdsburg Fire Department, a staffer struggled to get McGuire out the door in time so that he could make it to a Chamber of Commerce event three hours north in Eureka. There, he would partake in a hobby perfectly suited to his sense of urgency and penchant for squeezing as much as he can into the time he has: auctioneering.

* * * 

[I]n some ways, McGuire’s appointment comes as a surprise. He represents a rural district in a powerful position long held by senators from major cities. He is a straight white man helping lead a state that is predominantly Latino amid calls for more diversity in Democratic politics.

A prior post about McGuire is here.  Some other posts mentioning him and his vast coastal district are here

Here is an excerpt from CalMatters coverage of McGuire's ascension to speaker pro tem; it focuses on the rural-urban angle--and how long it's been since someone from the north coast has led the Senate:

But the optics of McGuire’s ascension are notable: It’s the first time since 1866 that a lawmaker from the north coast leads the Senate, the Associated Press reported. Alongside his Assembly counterpart, Speaker Robert Rivas of Hollister, both legislative leaders now hail from more rural, agricultural areas of California — a shift in the epicenter of power. McGuire succeeds Toni Atkins of San Diego, while Rivas replaced Anthony Rendon of Los Angeles County last summer.

I find myself skeptical that the balance of power between rural and urban will shift because of the presence of McGuire and Rivas, but we shall see.

The Sonoma Press-Democrat coverage includes a photo of McGuire hugging Pat Sabo, the chair of the Sonoma County Democratic Party--who was also his 8th grade math teacher.  Like the coverage I heard on Capital Public Radio, it mentions McGuire's grandmother, on whose prune farm he worked growing up.  McGuire was raised by his single mother and his grandmother, and he credits them for his work ethic. 

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