State Sen. Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel has been elected as the leader of the California Republican Senate Caucus.

Bates, who represents the 36th Senate district which includes parts of Orange and San Diego counties, will lead the GOP minority of 13 senators in a house where Democrats occupy more than two thirds — 27 — of the 40 seats. Democrats also have a supermajority in the state Assembly, holding 55 of 80 seats, meaning Republican votes aren’t needed on any legislation in which Democrats are united.

Bates, who was elected caucus leader Tuesday, will take over April 12 from Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield.  According to the Los Angeles Times, some prominent Republicans didn’t want the job because the GOP’s lack of clout likely means they will have little influence.

Bates served in the Assembly from 1998 to 2004 and on the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 2007 to 2014. She was the first mayor of Laguna Niguel after it was incorporated in 1989 and was a member of the City Council until 1998.

Of the five Orange County representatives in the State Senate, three are Republican: Bates, Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa in the 37th district and Sen. Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove in  the 34th district. The two Democrats are Tony Mendoza of Artesia in the 32nd district and Josh Newman of Fullerton in the 29th district.

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo. 

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