Mike McGuire (HHS, Class of 1997) will be the next president pro tempore of the California State Senate, a position that makes him the most influential legislator in the state. The president pro tempore serves as chair of the Rules Committee, which appoints the Senate’s committees, assigns bills to committees and does the internal administrative work of the Senate.
While it’s unusual that a Senate leader’s high school graduating class ranks a first-paragraph mention, for McGuire, and Healdsburg, it’s appropriate. McGuire, now 44, has had a rapid rise in government circles that has seen him ascend to the highest rungs of power with the momentum of inevitability.
McGuire (D-District 2) was first elected to the State Senate in 2014, but that office followed several other positions both in Healdsburg and Sonoma County. His first elective office was to the Healdsburg School Board, in 1998, when he was only 19. He followed that with election to the Healdsburg City Council in 2004, becoming the city’s youngest mayor in 2006.
Along the way, he received a BA in political science in 2002 from Sonoma State University, and had several non-government jobs, for General Dynamics and KSRO radio/TV in Santa Rosa.
In 2010, he was elected as 4th District supervisor for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. His term overlapped with that of 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who was elected in 2012.
“I did serve with Mike McGuire when I was first elected,” confirmed the supervisor, currently serving her final term. “He was just as energetic as he is now. I’m not at all surprised that he has been honored with this vote of confidence – he is genuine, incredibly hard working and works to bring people together to develop solutions to some of our most challenging issues.”
In 2014, McGuire ran for the California State Senate to succeed Democratic Sen. Noreen Evans, who was first elected in 2010 and decided not to seek reelection. McGuire easily won the seat with 70% of the vote. He has been re-elected two more times and as such is not eligible for re-election in 2026, when he will be “termed out” by state law.
McGuire has served as the Senate majority leader since 2022 and as such was considered a likely replacement for the current Senate president pro tempore, Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), the first woman to hold the position. However, his early elevation as designee to the position was something of a surprise, announced without fanfare on Aug. 28.
Atkins herself will be termed out of the Senate with the 2024 election. The transition is expected to be finalized next year. She said that the decision to name McGuire was a “unified” one by the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“I am confident that this will be a seamless transition, and that Sen. McGuire will continue to guide the Senate and California down a path of success,” said Atkins. “Sen. McGuire has been a key member of my leadership team, a trusted confidant, and time after time, the convener who sets the table to get things done. The Senate and the people of California will be in good hands with Sen. McGuire as their future leader of the Senate.”
Said McGuire, “Words are not enough to express the extent of my gratitude, honor and humility for being chosen by our united Caucus to lead the California Senate. Together, we will meet the challenges ahead with grace, courage and determination. We will never stop fighting to make the promise of the Golden State real for every Californian.”
McGuire continues to live in Healdsburg, with his wife, Erika, and their two-year-old son, Connor.