SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former Republican leader in California’s state Assembly is dropping his party affiliation, saying Thursday that he’s tired of the political bickering.
Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley said he switched to no party preference on Monday and pulled papers Thursday to run for re-election as an independent next year.
He’s termed out of office in 2026 from the 42nd Assembly District, which is evenly split between Republican and Democratic voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
He has represented the once-safe Republican district since 2014. But he gave up his leadership post after he angered Republicans by working with Democratic lawmakers to extend California’s limits on greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.
Mayes then founded a group called New Way California last year to back conservatives who no longer feel at home in the GOP. The group last year sponsored a forum that included Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California governor, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another moderate Republican and 2016 rival of President Donald Trump.
Mayes said he decided to make a statement by dropping his partisan affiliation after watching what he fears is “the disintegration of our political system.”
“We’ve been focusing so much of our effort and time about winning — and winning at all costs — instead of focusing on making peoples’ lives better,” he said. “We have completely lost sight of that in this country. We’ve lost sight of that in this state.”
Fallout was swift, with the California Republican Party board of directors unanimously rescinding its endorsement.
“Chad has let the Republican Party down just as he let down the voters of California,” the party said in a statement. “We are confident that a Republican will win that seat in November.”
Mayes was re-elected last year despite being challenged by two fellow Republicans.
It’s the second defection this year, after moderate Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego became a Democrat in January while criticizing Trump.
Democrats hold three-quarters of state Assembly seats, leaving Republicans with little power or influence. But Mayes said he wasn’t ready to switch to a party he said also has its failures.
“I’ve just gotten to the point of enough is enough, I don’t want to be a part of that any longer,” he said.