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Mayes, Under Pressure To Quit, Steps Down – But Picks Successor

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Assembly Republican Leader-elect Brian Dahle and outgoing Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes speak with reporters after Dahle's election by the Assembly GOP caucus on Thursday, August 24, 2017.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s Assembly Republican Leader is stepping down after weeks of pressure from conservatives. They’re furious that Chad Mayes helped negotiate a cap-and-trade deal with Gov. Jerry Brown.

But Mayes may have the last word: The new leader elected by the caucus Thursday is one of his allies.

Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) had survived two votes – one right after the cap-and-trade deal last month, and one earlier this week. But his support was wavering.

“There were some members of our caucus that were taking tremendous amounts of pressure from folks back at home, and it seemed important that we try to come up with a win-win situation,” Mayes told reporters Thursday after the leadership vote.

So he turned to Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), who Mayes says shares his vision that California Republicans must help govern rather than simply be an opposition party.

“His heart and his character and the vision that he has is symbiotic with what I believe as well,“ Mayes says. “So he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Dahle, whose name is pronounced “Dally“ (as in “dilly dally“), represents rural northeastern California and served 16 years as a Lassen County supervisor before running for Assembly.

Although he voted against the cap-and-trade deal, he doesn’t always vote straight party-line. For example, he voted for a tax on health insurance plans last year – arguing that the federal matching funds it brought in would pay for crucial care in his rural district.

CapRadio's Ben Adler on the Assembly GOP leadership change and Assembly Speaker's universal health care push


Last month, as Mayes faced calls to resign, Dahle backed him publicly and praised the cap-and-trade deal Mayes negotiated. And on Thursday, Dahle said he agreed with Mayes’s choice to participate in cap-and-trade talks.

“I think we need to be at the table when these big policy decisions are going to be made,“ Dahle says. “There are people in our caucus who voted their conscience and district (on cap-and-trade), and I support those who did that.”

And Dahle says Republicans must adapt to appeal to younger voters. “I think Chad started that,“ he says, “and I think we move forward with that again.”

Many Republicans shared Asm. Matthew Harper’s frustration with Mayes – not just for negotiating the cap-and-trade deal but also for not representing their views. Harper (R-Huntington Beach) thinks Dahle will bring “outstanding leadership” to his caucus.

“I thought it was important to make sure that we have a communications operation and a leader that understands that they’re the leader of all the members of the Republican caucus,” Harper said Thursday after the vote, adding that he was “very happy“ the caucus had changed its leadership.

Mayes has worked closely with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), and their “bromance” is a running joke at the state Capitol. Rendon vowed that “bromance” would continue despite Thursday’s vote and called Mayes a great partner and a longtime friend.

“I think some of the more extreme elements of the Republican caucus didn’t treat Chad very well,” Rendon told reporters Thursday. “I think he was always trying to move the state forward – that was always his first concern. Whereas I think others were more concerned about their own personal politics. And that’s a shame.”

Dahle defeated Asm. Vince Fong (R-Kern County), a close ally of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

“Now is the time to unite our state and our Republican Caucus in our collective fight for common sense policies that improve the lives of everyday Californians,” Fong said in a statement after the vote.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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