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CA Republican Deputy Leader Quits to Protest Cap-and-Trade

Melissa Melendez (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), who had served as the deputy to Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), resigned her leadership post on Thursday in protest against Mayes’ vote for Governor Jerry Brown’s “cap-and-trade” extension bill.

“Californians are struggling to make ends meet, and unfortunately, what I have witnessed by the Assembly Republican Leader is a dereliction of duty to preserve and promote the American Dream for every single Californian,” she said in a statement quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

“Assemblyman Mayes’ actions on cap-and-trade demonstrate we no longer share the same leadership principles,” she continued. “I was elected by the people of my district to fight for a more affordable and decent California, a place where every Californian knows their child will have a better life than their own. Regrettably, I can no longer, in good conscience, serve as the Assistant Republican Leader.”

Mayes and severn other Republicans (six in the State Assembly, one in the State Senate) defected to help Gov. Brown and the Democrats extend cap-and-trade to 2030 with a two-thirds majority vote. Mayes earned praise from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican who originally signed the cap-and-trade legislation, AB 32, a decade ago.

But Mayes has drawn strong criticism from other Republicans, including conservatives who accused him of adding to the financial burden of the state’s energy consumers, already fearing a new gas tax. Mayes’s position also made it more difficult for Republicans to rally against the gas tax as a defining issue for the 2018 elections.

Some called on Mayes to resign over his cap-and-trade vote, and over an alleged affair with his predecessor. Melendez was mentioned as a likely candidate to replace him.

Capital Public Radio reported that Mayes’s vote on cap-and-trade was in keeping with his governing style, which rejects staunch opposition in favor of showing that California Republicans can also cooperate with Democrats.

Mayes responded to Melendez’s decision in an email to the San Jose Mercury News: “I thank her for her service as assistant leader and we are now focused on moving the caucus forward”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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