For Mike Brubaker, it’s all about family.
The two-term state senator and one of Lancaster County’s most influential lawmakers unexpectedly announced Monday he will step away from politics at the end of 2014 to spend more time at home.
“Eight years of this kind of lifestyle — a very hectic lifestyle — it’s exciting and intellectually challenging, but it doesn’t leave much else for life,” he said in his first interview since making the decision.
The Warwick Township Republican plans to fulfill his term in the Senate before leaving his post as leader of the 36th District and chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Brubaker and his wife, Cindy, sat down at their daughter’s home in Manheim Township Monday evening to discuss his career and what’s on the horizon.
During his tenure in the Senate, the 55-year-old lawmaker — who represents the northern half of Lancaster County — has played a key role, most recently in helping to write the pension reform bill currently being debated in the Legislature.
“It was a tremendous learning experience, but whenever you decide your time is up there will be unfinished business,” he said. “The next year and a half, I’m going to work as hard as I can on public policy decisions.”
But as important as policy is, family is even more so.
“My wife and I knew I would not be a career politician,” the former agriscientist said. “When I first ran for General Assembly in 2006, we talked about how my window of service would be eight to 12 years.”
The decision to step aside, Brubaker said, was made with input from his family over Memorial Day weekend.
After losing his son to drug addiction last fall, and with the arrival of two grandchildren this past year, the senator said he wants to spend more time with the ones he loves.
When Brubaker leaves office next year, he plans to get a job in the private sector but isn’t sure what direction he will take.
One thing is certain — he will not be running for office any time soon.
Brubaker’s name has been tossed around as a potential candidate for Congress.
“I have no interest at all in running for a congressional seat,” he said.
By making this announcement now, Brubaker said it will give the people of the 36th District time to go through the process of choosing a new senator.
“A piece of advice I’d give to anybody considering elected office: If you really care about the people, be prepared for a very robust volume of constituents who want help,” he said.
The ability to help people is what Brubaker enjoys most about his job, but conceded it can be a daunting at times.
As former chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, he championed legislation that updated transportation laws to recognize farm equipment, worked to ensure dairy farmers received a fair share of existing milk premiums and promoted farmland preservation.
He came under fire early in his political career, however, for a proposal that had nothing to do with agriculture.
The senator proposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Pennsylvania, a move that spurred bitter legislative debate and stalled in 2008.
Since that time, Brubaker has earned a reputation as a legislator who listens to the needs of his constituents.
That is what sparked him to organize a public hearing earlier this year to explore Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to sell the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Senate President Joe Scarnati said Brubaker will be missed.
In a statement Monday afternoon, the Republican from Jefferson County said that Brubaker “has taken a lead role in efforts to promote greater efficiency and fiscal responsibility in state government.”
While too soon for candidates to declare intent to run for Brubaker’s seat, Republican insiders say at least six men in the area have shown interest in a state office seat in the past. They include state Reps. Ryan Aument and Gordon Denlinger; Chad Weaver, former political director of the state GOP; Dave Dumeyer, former Lancaster County Republican Committee chairman; and Brett Miller, East Hempfield Township supervisor chairman.