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Assemblyman Chad Mayes seeking Assembly GOP leadership post

Assemblyman Chad Mayes seeking Assembly GOP leadership post
Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), center, appears at a Assembly Republican caucus news conference on transportation funding on Monday. (Chris Megerian/Los Angeles Times)

Assembly Republicans could elect a new leader as early as Tuesday, said Assemblyman Chad Mayes, a GOP freshman from Yucca Valley who confirmed Monday that he's seeking the leadership post.

"I'm definitely in the running for it," Mayes told reporters after a news conference Monday. "We need to make sure as a caucus that we're together and united. Some of my colleagues had come to me and said, 'We'd like you to consider it.'"

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If chosen, he'll take over from Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), who was elected to the post just over a year ago.

Mayes demurred on detailing how he'd lead the caucus differently than Olsen.

"Kristin has done a phenomenal job.... Once I become leader and sort of take the whole viewpoint of the organization, we'll go from there," he said.

Olsen said Monday there was no leadership news to report, but said she thought Mayes would make a "great leader."

Before his election to the Assembly in 2014, Mayes was a member of the Yucca Valley town council. He worked as a financial advisor before moving into government.

His district spans parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the cities of Beaumont, Palm Springs and Twentynine Palms.

Mayes would be the first legislative leader who was elected under the term limits approved by voters in 2012; he can serve up to to 12 years in either house.

Olsen, whose term will expire in 2016, is eyeing a seat in the state Senate, but said last week she'd hold off on deciding until the end of this legislative session.

News of Mayes' ascent comes close on the heels of another Republican leadership shift: state Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) became leader of the Senate GOP caucus last week, succeeding Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) months earlier than expected.

Fuller set forth a hard-line stance on taxes and fees, throwing into question Democratic plans to tackle healthcare and transportation funding in special legislative sessions.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), is looking to hold off a leadership shake-up in her caucus any time soon.

Last week, Atkins circulated a letter to Assembly Democrats for members to sign that pledges there will not be a vote for a new speaker before Jan. 5, 2016. The Sacramento Bee first reported the letter.

Atkins' final term in the Assembly will end next year.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

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