Rock-Ribbed Republican Stalwart Mayes Turns Coat And Departs From The GOP

Chad Mayes, who as a young man made a rapid rise to the top echelon of the conservative political landscape in his Yucca Valley stomping grounds and launched himself from there into a berth in the state legislature, abandoned the political party with which he has been intimately identified at every stage of his public career so far.
California’s 42nd District Assemblyman since 2014, Mayes this week reregistered without any party affiliation, ending his lifelong identification as a Republican this week.
The son of Roger Mayes, who is the pastor of Grace Community Church and one of the most influential members of the Yucca Valley Community, Chad Mayes established himself as a rock-ribbed conservative in the town of nearly 21,000 by following his father’s formula, which equated Godliness with goodliness and virtue with conservatism and conservatism with Republicanism. In the universe the Reverend Mayes occupies along with the Grace Community Church’s parishioners, big government is the work of the devil and Satan counts among his legion of followers the members of the Democratic Party, which is forever imposing its “liberal” will on the individual, while militating against smaller government.
In no little measure because the Reverend Roger Mayes commended his church members to lend his son their support, Chad Mayes was elected to the Yucca Valley Town Council in 2002 when former Marine Colonel Paul Cook was that body’s mayor. Cook went on to the California Assembly and then Congress. Young Mayes succeeded Cook as mayor and subsequently made his way to the Assembly.
Throughout his time as a local politician, Mayes conducted himself as a true believer, adhering to Republican principles at every turn.
His arrival in Sacramento, however, presented for him, as it does every Republican politician, a challenge of faith and mettle. The Democratic Party dominates the city, as it controls the governorship, has a supermajority in the upper legislative house – the California Senate, has a supermajority in the lower legislative house – the Assembly, and controls virtually every major state office, including that of secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, insurance commissioner and secretary of education. Sacramento is for California’s Republicans virtually indistinguishable from Sodom or Gomorrah.
The only way for a Republican to escape being consigned to political irrelevancy while there is to embrace anathema and cooperate with the Democrats.
Just a little more than a year after he settled in at the state’s capitol, on January 4, 2016, Mayes assumed leadership of the California Republican Caucus. But despite his power within the party, he yet had to go hat in hand to the Democrats if he wanted to accomplish anything as a lawmaker.
One accommodation he made with the Democrats consisted of his decision in 2017 to join a minority of Republicans in support of cap-and-trade legislation, a government regulatory program designed to limit, or cap, the total level of specific chemical by-products resulting from private business activity, primarily industrial and energy production. Many Republicans are opposed to this type of regulation. He also supported an increase to the state’s gasoline tax of roughly 63 cents per gallon, a move considered poison to many members of the GOP.
Mayes’ votes in those regards marked him in the minds of a large number of Republicans as a traitor and heretic. His effort to defend himself by pointing out that, given the Democrats’ control of the legislature, if the cap and trade bill didn’t pass California would automatically have reverted to a stricter policy fell on deaf ears. Hardcore Republicans in his native Morongo Basin called for him to step down from his leadership position.
Mayes, who says he has come to recognize that strident Republicanism in the Golden State is a self-defeating proposition, took a step no one would have earlier anticipated: his resignation from the Party of Lincoln. In re-registering without party preference, Mayes both tweeted and spoke about the rationale behind his decision. He tweeted that the basis for his move was “really simpl[e]. It’s because of my frustration with the way our political system is working today. The political discord in the country is tearing us apart. Unfortunately, all politics is no longer local. It’s national.”
In an article that appeared in Cal Matters yesterday under the headline “Another California Republican defection: Former party leader bails on the GOP,” Mayes indicated his disappointment in the constant bickering between the two main political parties. Though he was equally pointed in his criticism of the Democrats, he was no less forgiving of his former party. He was quoted as saying, “It’s frustrating to watch Republicans defend whatever it is the president does. It’s also frustrating to watch Democrats attack virtually everything the president does, instead of thinking, ‘Is this a good policy or not a good policy?’ At some point you go, ‘It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to keep banging my head against the wall.’”
Mayes’ defection is bad news for the Republicans, which were already in dire straits. At present, right around 44 percent of the state’s registered voters are Democrats and 24 percent are registered with the GOP. The Democratic advantage in the number of state political offices is even starker. Democrats hold 73 percent of those. As a result of Mayes’ reregistration, the Republicans now hold 23 percent of the state’s legislative positions.
The California Republican Party, which was caught flatfooted by Mayes’ departure from its ranks after having endorsed him for reelection in 2020, gave discourse to its consternation. “Chad has let the Republican Party down just as he let down the voters of California,” the party’s board of directors said in a prepared statement.
-Mark Gutglueck

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