Assembly GOP leader survives ouster bid, but other challenges expected

Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, survived a bid to oust him on Monday night at a caucus of the 25 GOP Assembly members in Sacramento. Ten Republicans voted for his removal, three short of a majority.

Nevertheless, anger over Mayes’ decision to work with Gov. Jerry Brown last month and lobby fellow Republicans to help secure an extension of the cap-and-trade program established by AB32 – the state’s landmark 2006 anti-climate change law – remains intense among some lawmakers and many conservative activists. Another challenge to Mayes’ leadership is expected at an Aug. 29 caucus at which an election will be held to determine who leads the Assembly GOP.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, perhaps Mayes’ most critical colleague over his decision to help Brown round up seven Republican votes for AB398, is running. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, is considered likely to run as well. There’s also been speculation about Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield.

Mayes’ decision to vote for the cap-and-trade renewal, and to work to bring several GOP lawmakers with him, came after weeks of negotiations with the governor. He believed he had won a major concession from Brown and Democratic legislative leaders that could eventually throttle the state’s costly, problem-plagued bullet-train project. Here’s a description from CalWatchdog coverage last month:

The concession ….  places a constitutional amendment drafted by Mayes before state voters in June 2018. If passed, it would lead to a one-time up-and-down vote in the Legislature in 2024 on whether to continue allowing the use of cap-and-trade revenue to fund the project. But the threshold wouldn’t be a simple majority. A two-thirds vote would be required to allow continued use of the funds – presumably giving GOP lawmakers a prime chance to pull the plug.

But the complexity of the concession and its distant possible payoff didn’t enthrall many Republican lawmakers, whose opposition to AB32 is a core element of their political platform. There was also fury that Mayes rounded up so many Republicans that Democrats didn’t have to pressure two of their Assembly members in swing districts to vote for a cap-and-trade extension that is unpopular with their constituents. AB398 passed 55-25, with one vote more than necessary to meet the two-thirds threshold for adoption.

Meanwhile, an argument that Mayes has increasingly made in recent weeks – that AB398 provided state GOPers with a chance to rebrand themselves and broaden their appeal – has faced ridicule from those who say the party’s core values are opposition to higher taxes and overregulation.

State GOP board issues harsh rebuke

Mayes’ rough month continued last Friday, when the board of the state Republican Party voted to urge Mayes to step down. The vote was 13-7, with one abstention. State GOP chair Jim Brulte was among the yes votes.

More than 20 local Republican organizations have also issued formal denunciations of Mayes.

Mayes, 40, has worked as a financial planner. He entered politics on the Yucca Valley Town Council and also worked as a top aide to a San Bernardino County supervisor. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2014.


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  1. Ron
    Ron 22 August, 2017, 08:25

    Two bad choices, but extension of cap and trade (SB398) appears to be much more cost effective to California than the platform legislative AB32 back in 2006, and SB32 goals from 2016.

    There’s no way the Democrats will “repeal and replace” their signature legislature AB32 back in 2006, and SB32 goals from 2016. They’re the law of the land!

    Thus, by not doing anything like AB398 to extend the cap and trade auctions that takes away most of the powers of CARB to meet those emission targets, the impact on the California economy would have been devastating, as without the passage of SB398, the cost of meeting SB32 goals (passed last year) of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 would have been at a minimum four times as high! In addition, the loss of many high paying jobs within the petrochemical industry would result in a huge impact on the economy if CARB drives the industry out of CA, as well as a financial and logistical impact of importing 10 million gallons of aviation fuels daily, 10 million gallons of diesel fuel daily, and 40 million gallons of transportation fuel daily to keep the 6th largest economy moving forward.

    Reply this comment
  2. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 22 August, 2017, 10:09

    The failure of the Assembly’s GOP Caucus to boot Mayes out of his position as Minority leader is a very bad sign. If he stays in, which is unfortunately likely unless Republican voters mount a statewide campaign to take back the Party from the Progressive element, Conservatives will have no place to go.

    Reply this comment
  3. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 22 August, 2017, 10:11

    Forgot to mention that Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez is the best qualified Republican for leading a rebirth of the California Republican Party. She has my wholehearted support.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 August, 2017, 22:00

    The doomers about done in…… sad……

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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