Calling it a day Sen. Brubaker elects to focus on family

By on June 5, 2013



, Staff Writer

Sen. Mike Brubaker will not run for a third term.

That decision was publicly announced Monday, which also happened to be the 22nd birthday of his late son Ryan, who died last Sept. 11.

"My wife and I were at his grave site last night, burning a candle," Brubaker said Tuesday morning. "He is in our minds every single day. Only someone who has lost a child can relate, and it has a profound daily impact on my life."

The timing of the announcement was not intentional, and he didn’t even think about the coinciding dates until asked in the interview.

"How ironic," he said. "How impactful. Not only in a human aspect, but maybe also in a faith-based aspect."

Returning to the private sector is an opportunity to invest more time in family.

"Four more years of a very public life, a very hard working life… it’s a pace that’s difficult to keep up," he said. "Ryan’s passing threw that into sharper contrast for me."

The decision was made during a Memorial Day family gathering at his Warwick Township home. They discussed his political ambitions at the picnic table, thought about it, and reconvened the following weekend. It was the same democratic process he used when considering his first run for the Senate in 2006. Back then, while sitting around the dinner table, every family member could put a "Y" or an "N" into a hat. Both family votes (2006 and 2013) were unanimous, the most recent determining that eight years is enough.

"That was the pivot point, no doubt," he said. "The fact that everyone was there, at our house, and that we could have that conversation. It just became crystal clear on Memorial Day that now is the right time."

Ryan’s death may have contributed to his decision, but it wasn’t the only factor.

"I’m 55 years old. I do not see myself as a long-term elected public servant," he said.

With the end of his second term on the horizon, people were starting to ask about his next campaign, and he knew he wasn’t 100 percent committed to reelection. He didn’t want to lead supporters down the path of raising money and getting organized.

He expects to work just as hard for his constituency during the final year and a half of his service as he did in the first six and a half, but he is looking forward to shifting his focus to family. That closer-to-home constituency includes his wife Cindy, who he describes as his rock of support every step of the way; their other two children Alyson and Chris; and grandchildren Wesley and Ariya (daughter of Ryan).

Ryan struggled with drug addiction, and since his death the family organized the Ryan C. Brubaker Memorial Fund, which has raised $50,000 to help local youth in need.

"One hundred percent of the proceeds go to local youth in need," Brubaker said. "There will be no overhead. So, every penny donated will go to help local youth in need. And we intentionally did not define local, did not define youth, did not define need."

The vision is for a small panel to evaluate requests, and provide help where needed, quickly. For example, the fund provides vital counseling services that some families are unable to afford.

A fundraising dinner for the effort will be held at the General Sutter Inn Sept. 29, and more information is available at

Looking back on his political career to this point, Sen. Brubaker is proud of his accomplishments. If there is a legacy, he hopes that he’ll be remembered for "Being accessible to the people of the 36th Senatorial District, being an effective listener, and my deep care and concern for my constituency."

"I have no regrets, I love the job," he said. "It’s very invigorating, very intellectually stimulating everyday."

But the time has arrived for the next chapter.

More BRUBAKER, page A12

About Ephrata Review