Politics & Government

State Sen. Bill Emmerson abruptly announces retirement

Veteran Inland Empire lawmaker Bill Emmerson announced late Friday he was resigning his California Senate seat effective Dec. 1.

In an abrupt announcement posted on his website, the Redlands Republican called his nine years in the Legislature “some of the most fulfilling years of my life.”

“It has been an honor to work alongside my colleagues in both the State Assembly and the State Senate – institutions that I hold in the highest regard,” Emmerson said. “But it’s time for me to move on.”

Emmerson, who turned 68 on Oct. 28, did not immediately return a message seeking the reason for his departure.

But in the statement, he said he has always felt one must be passionate about one’s work.

“In these past few months, my passion has waned and my constituents deserve a Senator with the level of commitment that I once had,” he said of serving in the Democratic-controlled body.

“My health is perfect, and I leave with the satisfaction that I worked hard and did my very best.”

Emmerson was elected to the Assembly in 2004. He won a 2010 special election in Riverside County’s former 37th Senate District to replace former state Sen. John Benoit after Benoit resigned to take a seat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Emmerson easily won re-election last November in the redrawn 23rd Senate District, which covers swaths of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. He faced term limits in 2016.

Viewed as a moderate voice in the caucus, he was part of a group of five Republicans courted by Gov. Jerry Brown in early 2011 as the governor tried to get the Legislature to put a tax-increase measure on the ballot. The career orthodontist spent several years working in the Legislature during the Reagan era before attending graduate school.

Emmerson later went on to head up the political action committee for the influential California Dental Association before his return to Sacramento. Emmerson now serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Budget Committee as well as its Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development.

Among the potential candidates to replace him in the Republican-heavy district are Assemblymen Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks.

Donnelly, a conservative firebrand, this week kicked off his nascent challenge of Brown for the 2014 gubernatorial election.