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Former State Senator Bob Dutton. (Photo: arc.sbcounty.gov)

Former California State Senator Bob Dutton Dies at 71

Requiescat in pace Sen. Bob Dutton

By Katy Grimes, July 26, 2022 6:30 am

Former California State Senator Bob Dutton died this past Saturday after a battle with cancer at 71. He leaves behind his wife Andrea Guillen Dutton, daughter Kara, and father Ted.

Dutton, a former Assemblyman, State Senator, as well as Senate Republican Leader, was also assessor-recorder for San Bernardino County, and a Rancho Cucamonga City Council member.

He served in the Army Reserve in 1969 and went on to serve on the California Air National Guard. Dutton owned his real estate company Dutton & Associates, Inc.

“He was elected to California’s 63rd State Assembly District in 2002, and two years later captured a seat in the 31st state Senate District — which includes portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties,” the Press Enterprise reported. “He arranged for a sales-tax deal between former Gov. Jerry Brown and Amazon that kept the company from cutting off its 10,000 small-business affiliates in the state; devised a transportation bond measure; and led a movement to return LA/Ontario International Airport to local control.”

“Dutton won a second term in 2008 and became Senate Republican Leader-elect in early 2010.”

Dutton is remembered fondly by long time Capitol staffers, not just for being a principled legislator, but for being a principled and good person.

“Bob was a great boss, but a better person,” said Larry Venus, who served as Dutton’s Communications Director from 2004-12. “When he was leader, Washington Post Columnist George Will came to Sacramento to do a profile on Bob and Senate Republicans who were in the middle of a budget battle with then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011. What Will said in the story best epitomized Bob, how he handled people and leadership. Will said, ‘Bob Dutton is an island of calm in the eye of the storm – which should agitate Gov. Jerry Brown.’”

Long time Capitol Chief of Staff Kevin Bassett forwarded a few memorable emails and press statements from Sen. Dutton. The 2011 Amazon deal statement was exemplary of his unflappable, calm demeanor.

“We have achieved peace with this delicate compromise.

Assembly Bill 155 is supported by the California Retailers Association and Amazon.  It is also supported by the California Business Properties Association and a very long list of retailers and employers of California workers.

I want to thank all the parties involved for their hard work in reaching this landmark agreement.

I also want to thank the members of the Senate for their patience as we worked out this compromise.”

At Dutton’s urging, on August 30, representatives from the retailers and Amazon met in person for the first time anywhere in the country to begin the process of working out a win-win-win compromise for retailers, Amazon and the people of California.

That initial meeting was the genesis of the compromise THAT resulted in AB 155.

“He truly felt his legacy was being called to serve,” said former state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, the Press Enterprise reported. “He understood how a government that left its rightful role would negatively impact its community, and was an expert at dialing down into the details of how legislation would impact the people.”

Classic Bob Dutton can be seen in this press statement on budget negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senator Republican Leader Bob Dutton and Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Bob Huff issued the following statement regarding state budget discussions:

Governor Brown challenged Republicans to be engaged in the budget process.  Republicans have been engaged for months.  Today he was presented with a thorough outline, which reiterates our priorities, including: getting our state back on track by reining in runaway spending; controlling unsustainable public employee pensions; getting people back to work; protecting and improving our state’s public education system; and making critical adjustments to the governor’s flawed budget.

Republicans were accused of being the party of “no” and now Republicans are accused of being the party of “too much yes.”

Kevin Bassett shared his thoughts about Senator Dutton with the Globe:

“Senator Bob Dutton was all about getting things done.  A lot of elected officials talk about “infrastructure” but Bob Dutton was laser focused on getting things built for the Inland Empire and all of California.  From roads and highways to schools and water storage, Bob Dutton fought to get projects built.  He would roll up his sleeves, put in the time, meet with anyone and was willing to compromise to help get needed projects built up and down the Golden State.

When the issue of sales tax collection by Amazon and other on-line retailers was boiling over with California’s brick and mortar retailers and local governments, it was Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton who asked all parties to sit down around a large table in his office.  The fight was playing out all over the country and Dutton was the first one to get everyone in the same room to focus on solutions .  This lead to an historic bi-partisan agreement focused on fairness, a changing retail environment, and job creation for California.

Most of all, I will remember Bob Dutton as a great boss, a committed and loving family man focused on his wife Andrea and his daughter Kara, and a public servant who just wanted to make his community and his state a better place to live for everyone.”

Kevin Bassett served as the Chief of Staff to Senator Bob Dutton during his tenure as the Republican Leader in the California State Senate.

“Bob epitomized the term ‘citizen statesman,’” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). “He brought a common-sense approach whether he was serving on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, State Assembly, State Senate, and finally as the Assessor-Recorder-Clerk for San Bernardino County.”
“He loved this state and his community. We are all grateful for his service to California. Bob was also a friend and gave my son an opportunity to work in his district office when he served in the State Senate. For that, I will always be grateful.”

Requiescat in pace Sen. Bob Dutton.

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4 thoughts on “Former California State Senator Bob Dutton Dies at 71

  1. Gone too soon – why do we lose the good ones at a relatively early age, while scum-sucking slime like George $oro$ lurk on the Earth way past their prime???

    Prayers to his family, friends and constituents….

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