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California Assembly Republicans elect Chad Mayes as new leader

Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) talks with reporters after being elected as the new minority leader.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) talks with reporters after being elected as the new minority leader.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Assembly Republicans have tapped freshman Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley to be their next leader, the caucus announced Tuesday afternoon, marking the second major legislative leadership shift in the last week.

Mayes will take over from current leader, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto, next January.

Describing his caucus as “future-oriented,” Mayes vowed that Assembly Republicans would have to continue to innovate to keep up with California’s changing economy and demographics.

At the same time, he sounded a traditional Republican note touting “limited government and low taxes,” arguing such a message would appeal to Californians seeking a better quality of life.

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Olsen said she worked closely with Mayes in her overhaul of caucus operations this year.

“This is a continuity of leadership,” Olsen said. “I look forward to seeing him carry that mantle forward…refining it and even improving it with time as we seek to grow our numbers and lead on issues.”

Last week, Senate Republicans installed Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) as their leader, replacing Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas). The change happened months earlier than expected.

The leadership moves have the potential to complicate Democratic efforts to tackle transportation and healthcare funding. A variety of taxes and fees are on the table, which would require Republican support to pass.

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Mayes said Olsen would continue to represent Assembly Republicans in those negotiations until January.

Mayes said he believes in “limited government, low taxes and empowering individuals”

Before his election to the Assembly in 2014, Mayes, 38, was a member of the Yucca Valley town council. He has also worked as a financial advisor.

He will 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.

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

Olsen is considering running for state Senate but said Tuesday that she has not yet made a decision whether to launch a bid.

Mayes, explaining the timing of the vote, said his Republican colleagues had sought a leadership change.

“A position like this isn’t one that you pick, it picks you,” Mayes said. “It’s fair to think ‘why in the world should a freshman be in this position?’ It was my colleagues that came to me and said, ‘Chad, we want you to consider running for leader.’”

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Follow @melmason on Twitter for more on California government and politics.


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