Republicans in the California State Assembly elected a new leader for their 25-member caucus on Thursday, elevating Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, to the top post.
The move comes after a month of backlash against leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, for his decision to partner with Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats in the Legislature to support an extension of the state's cap-and-trade program.
The program, which lets businesses buy and sell credits in order to pollute, allowing the state to cap overall greenhouse gas emissions, was supported by a broad coalition of business groups. But Republican party leaders around the state balked at Mayes' vote, which gave Democrats a big political win.
Mayes survived a caucus vote earlier this week, but by Thursday Assembly Republicans rallied around a new leader.
"We all have different ideas, but we came together as a caucus, and it was unanimous," Dahle said of the vote on Thursday morning. "There was not any abstention, nobody spoke out, it was beautiful."
Dahle will officially take over the caucus' top spot when an interim recess begins on Sept. 15.
Mayes defended his support of cap and trade as a way to extract legislative gains, such as greater control over the spending of cap-and-trade funds, and the elimination of a fire prevention fee mostly paid by rural Republican residents. Mayes argued those provisions wouldn't have been achieved with a no vote.
"For too long, we’ve just had a party that wanted to be in opposition, instead of wanting to be the proposition party," Mayes said in announcing the transition.
His argument fell on deaf ears in many local GOP circles, where Mayes was railed for giving Democrats a legislative victory.
"Californians deserve a viable alternative to the supermajority party currently in charge," said Senate Republican Leader Pat Bates, who recommended Mayes' ouster in her role on the board of directors of the California GOP.
Mayes' decision to support a transition of leadership avoided a potentially messy leadership election that was initially set for Tuesday. As many as four Republicans, in addition to Mayes, were reportedly considering a run for leadership.
"It became very clear late last evening that Assemblymember Dahle had more than enough votes to become leader," Mayes said. "Once you get to a point where you have more than enough votes, there’s no reason to go on to Tuesday."