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Assembly GOP leader Chad Mayes survives challenge over cap-and-trade vote, but party activists will push for his removal

Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley is facing criticism for voting to extend California's cap-and-trade program. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley is facing criticism for voting to extend California's cap-and-trade program. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Under pressure from some party activists to step down, Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley met with his caucus for more than an hour Thursday and emerged saying he remains its leader.

“It’s all good. ... I'm the leader,” Mayes told reporters after the closed session meeting.

The unscheduled gathering of the 25-member Assembly Republican Caucus is not expected to relieve pressure on the leader who has been criticized for standing with Gov. Jerry Brown as he and six other Assembly Republicans voted to extend California’s cap-and-trade program.

Harmeet Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee, had called Wednesday night for Mayes to be replaced. She said she had support from enough members of the California Republican Party board to conduct an emergency meeting by phone, but that Mayes called the caucus before it could happen. Dhillon said she would bring the matter before the board during the next month, rather than hold an emergency recommendation that Mayes be replaced.

Dhillon said there were “a number of legislators” who had told her they wanted to vote Mayes out of the leadership role, but that by calling a quick meeting, Mayes acted before any challengers could muster the votes.

“I think it’s a weak move,” she said of Mayes forcing an early choice. “What eventually happens is leaders who vote against the interests of their caucus and who take a minority vote like that and present that that’s the party’s position, they lose their leadership position. I’m going to keep campaigning for him to lose it.”

The Assembly heads out on a monthlong vacation Friday and Dhillon said the matter will be revived when lawmakers return.

Most Republicans opposed extending the program, which requires oil companies and others to purchase permits to emit greenhouse gases. Republican lawmakers cited independent studies that the program could eventually increase the cost of gas by 73 cents per gallon.

“The people I’ve talked to in California are furious at the cap-and-trade vote,” said Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) on Wednesday. “They feel betrayed by their elected officials that were sent to represent them.”

After the caucus meeting Thursday, Allen would only say “at the moment, [the caucus] is having conversations."

Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) said there was no vote on the leadership in the caucus meeting.

“We just talked about a change of leadership and none of that took place,” he said. "I got the feeling there were a lot of people who wanted a better line of communication between all of us. And we're probably going to do that more often, I think."

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