GOP leadership requires principles and winning elections
I am proud to pen this commentary from my new office space, referred to around the state Capitol as “the Dog House.” The Dog House is where you get sent as punishment when you draw the ire of the leaders for standing up to them on principle. I have heard of Republicans being punished for voting for a tax increase, but I have never heard of a Republican being punished for voting against one.
How I found myself in this glorified closet space is sadly a story about how petty and unprincipled politics is in the statehouse these days.
Most Californians have heard about the cap-and-trade deal that went down in the Legislature. An increasing number are aware that the Assembly Republican Leader, Chad Mayes, broke from the policies he campaigned on and that were overwhelmingly supported by his caucus, when he joined Democrat leaders in voting for cap and trade. Even worse, he pressured other Republicans to fall on the sword so some Democrats in battleground districts wouldn’t have to make a tough vote. What many Californians do not know is that cap and trade significantly raised taxes and that much of those taxes will go toward another failed program, the now infamous high-speed rail project.
Just months ago, it appeared that finally the governor and his extreme leftist legislative leaders would be forced to moderate their policies. Fiscal conservatives watched with glee as one-by-one Democrats joined Republicans in publicly rebuking the latest cap and trade and funding of Jerry Brown’s boondoggle bullet train-to-nowhere. I sat there with great hope that both cap and trade and the ridiculous high-speed rail project would finally face market restrictions and Gov. Brown would be forced to do right by Californians.
However, our embattled Assembly GOP Leader Mayes could not resist the temptation, and negotiated quite possibly the worst deal in legislative history. Believe it or not, Mayes is proud to report that in return for Republican votes to pass cap and trade, he received a non-binding assurance that Jerry Brown and Democrats would support a ballot measure requiring a two-thirds majority to spend cap-and-trade funds on high-speed rail. Then, if, and only if, the ballot measure passes, a super-majority would be required to spend those funds — sound familiar? Here’s the rub: if all of these things go exactly as planned, the new law requiring a two-thirds majority would not take effect until 2024, leaving Democrats with seven years to freely spend cap-and-trade funds on high-speed rail before facing a financial “speed bump” for its ballooning costs.
In light of this deal, I chose to resign from my role as assistant GOP leader under Mayes because I knew that one of two things had happened: either Mayes just saved the Democrats’ failed policies that were starting to face bipartisan opposition or he had sold out his caucus and the citizens of Californian for political expediency. Neither is acceptable to me.
Subsequently, Mayes’ retaliated. He proposed canceling a critical agreement with our party that unites Republicans for winning elections, stripped me of my committee assignments, and banished me to “the Dog House.”
Assembly Republicans in the Capitol must turn the corner and set a long-term course for making gains in the Legislature that will bring balance to the public policy-making process. One-party rule is demoralizing Californians and it all rests on the GOP’s ability to win elections.
If given the distinct honor to serve as Assembly GOP leader, I will work to unite our caucus behind one common goal: breaking the Democrat’s supermajority in the November 2018 election. To do this, it is not enough to just rail on the gas tax or cap and trade, we must make impassioned cases for our principles and policies by abandoning the worn-out messaging of the past, connecting with voters in their local communities, and understanding what is most important to them.
Together, Republicans must unite and prove to the voters of California that we are not ones to kowtow to the 11th-hour dealing of the legislative process by the Democrat majority — let the Democrats own their policies and pay the price for them.
Let them own their failed policies that have led California to the highest poverty rate in the nation; half of our kids are on government subsidized health care and one-third of the entire nation’s welfare recipients reside in California.
The voters of California must know for certain that when we say we are going to hold the line and fight for better economic policies, that we will do it, no matter what pet projects or pork spending is thrown our way. Simply put, we must get our house in order.
Republican ideals can put California back on the right course by ending the spikes in violent crime, spurring a vibrant economy, and creating more good paying jobs. Doing so requires a new era of Republican leadership that will offer Californians the opportunity to rid their state house of a culture of corruption that has persisted for too long. As Assembly GOP leader, I will welcome and foster healthy debate on differing opinions, but last-minute capitulations to special interest handouts will be met — must be met — with consequence.
Melissa Melendez represents California’s 67th Assembly District.
Powered by WPeMatico