Brian Dahle, the newly installed California State Assembly Republican Leader, did not take long to get on the wrong side of GOP grassroots activists in California after appointing several of the most notorious “Swamp 8” Republicans to leadership roles — including former leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) and Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside).
Outraged conservative grassroots activists and leaders pushed for the ouster of former GOP leader Mayes over a controversial vote to extend the cap-and-trade system — only to learn that the “new boss is the same as the old boss'” as Dahle installed Mayes himself as an “assistant Republican leader.”
So much for a change of direction within the GOP Assembly caucus. Longtime Sacramento watcher, journalist Steven Greenhut, doesn’t hide his disdain for Mayes in an article published in Political Vanguard:
Mayes not only went along with a deal … he seemed so proud of what he had done.
Mayes bragged about his “bromance” with Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Los Angeles. He posed for photo ops with the governor. He lectured conservatives about how the party has to change. The Republicans finally yielded to political pressure and replaced Mayes with Dahle, from the Redding area. Then instead of ameliorating the rift with conservatives, Dahle made these leadership appointments that are likely to infuriate Mayes’ opponents.
For instance, Mayes is still a prominent part of the leadership team. He was appointed assistant Republican leader. The new deputy Republican leader is Rocky Chavez, the Oceanside Republican who voted for the governor’s deal and is probably the most liberal legislator in the GOP caucus. (Chavez, for instance, received a 75 percent rating out of 100 from Planned Parenthood and a 29-percent vote from the California Labor Federation.)
Dahle also rewarded a third “Swamp 8” member, Heath Flora, representing the San Joaquin Valley, by naming him an assistant Republican leader.
Most of the other leadership picks aren’t likely to set off any alarms with conservatives, such as Escondido’s Marie Waldron, Republican floor leader; Frank Bigelow, who hails from a rural district, deputy Republican leader; and Bakersfield’s Phillip Chen as yet another assistant Republican leader.
However, the appointment of Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) to caucus chair.
Obernolte is rumored to have been a key negotiator for the cap-and-trade deal with the governor, but pulled his vote at the last moment without informing any of his “Swamp 8” colleagues, according to an unnamed source within the caucus.
The Victor Valley Daily Press reports that Obernolte, who’d formerly served as vice chair of the caucus under Mayes, touted his new job in a press release:
“I am honored that our newly elected Republican Leader has appointed me to serve on his leadership team,” Obernolte said in a statement. “As a member of leadership, I will continue to work with our caucus to fight for lower taxes, affordable housing, and expanding jobs in California.”
It’s noteworthy that Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Temecula), a favorite among conservative activists for the top spot, was not tapped for a leadership role, and remains banished to the Capitol’s smallest office, known as the “doghouse.”