California Assembly Republicans on Thursday selected a new leader, days after a failed vote to overthrow the head of its caucus resulted in a compromise for an election to be held next week.
Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Nubieber, will take over as leader of the 25-member caucus at the end of the legislative session in September. He succeeds Chad Mayes, of Yucca Valley, who generated conservative outrage and an activist campaign to oust him when he negotiated a deal last month to renew California’s signature climate change program.
“There was 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 said.
He originally planned to run to retain his post and told The Bee on Wednesday that he appeared to have the support to stay in power. But Mayes said he agreed to step aside late Wednesday night when it became clear that Dahle had enough votes to become leader.
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“It was unanimous,” Dahle said of the vote, which took place in a private meeting during the Assembly’s session on Thursday morning. “There was not any abstention. Nobody spoke out. It was unanimous. We came together. It was beautiful.”
Three other members who were seeking the Republican caucus leadership – Vince Fong of Bakersfield, Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore and Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake – declined to comment.
Elected to the Assembly in 2012, Dahle represents a sprawling north state district that includes the cities of Grass Valley, Yreka and Susanville. He previously served as a Lassen County supervisor for more than a decade and ran a seed store and nursery.
Dahle did not vote for the cap-and-trade extension that caused Mayes so much grief, but Thursday he echoed Mayes’ arguments that California Republicans must be more than simply the opposition party to come back from superminority status in the Legislature and rapidly declining voter registration numbers.
“We need to be at the table when these big policy decisions are going to be made,” Dahle said. “There are people in our caucus (who) voted their conscience and their district, and I support those who did that. In my case, it didn’t work for my district, so I was opposed to” the cap-and-trade bill.
Dahle also said he would continue Mayes’ work expanding the focus of the Assembly Republicans caucus to the wide array of issues affecting Californians, including poverty and the housing shortage. His priority, however, remains a Republican bedrock: “California needs to move forward in building the future for businesses here.”