In a showdown at the Riverside County Central Committee Thursday night, over 300 Republican activists showed up from across the southland, as Minority Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) lost the support of the Riverside County GOP in a unanimous vote of no confidence.
Republican activists were in no mood for Mayes’ justification for his vote, which many had heard after the San Bernardino County GOP voted to call for his resignation on August 10th.
“Cap-and-trade is a Republican idea. It is a free-market idea,” he told Riverside County party members. “Are Republicans going to be relevant in the discussion or let Democrats own the state?”
As some in the audience booed, Mayes asked whether people would rather see $1.25 per gallon or 40 cents a gallon gasoline price increases?
“Which would you choose?” he asked. “We used our conservative principles to lower costs in the state, and I would do it all over again,” he said. “The argument’s been made that we should let California go off a cliff, let the Democrats own it, but we all live here.”
The boisterous crowd booed Mayes’ while others held protest signs, which read: “Republican in Name Only.”
To make matters worse for Mayes, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) — who announced her bid to replace Mayes as leader at the beginning of the raucous meeting — received the committee’s endorsement for the leadership post.
Melendez resigned her assistant leadership post under Mayes immediately following the controversial cap-and-trade vote, and publicly denounced Mayes for what she termed his “dereliction of duty.” She was promptly transferred to the smallest office in the capitol building, known as “the Dog House,”a tiny 391 square-foot office generally used to punish Assembly members who cross party leadership.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the cap-and-trade vote was the final straw for Melendez:
“I am ready and willing to be the type of leader you have been asking for, one who has principles,” Melendez said to applause at a meeting of the Riverside County Republican Party. “When the Assembly returns Monday, I will be throwing my name in the hat to run for Republican leader.”
The vote that matters the most for GOP Assembly Leader could take place as early as Monday, when the legislative recess comes to an end, and will take place behind closed doors in a secret caucus in Sacramento.
After facing multiple votes of “no confidence” by the two Inland Empire counties Mayes represents, his ouster is more likely. The only question will be whether or not he resigns or is forced out of his post.
Unlike Melendez, who plans to call for a “special caucus” meeting in order to seek the leadership position, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) has expressed interest only if Mayes resigns the post.