Chad Mayes forms “New Way California” to change the California GOP’s message
"find a way to reinvigorate the party so it can help all Californians."
By: Jeff Horseman, The Press-Enterprise
Hoping to broaden the appeal of a marginalized California Republican Party, Inland Assemblyman Chad Mayes on Tuesday, Jan. 9, announced a new group aimed at softening the GOP’s image here.
“New Way California is a movement that seeks to put people above political parties and unite Californians along the common interests of individual freedom, shared responsibility, educational excellence, environmental stewardship, efficient government and an open economy,” read a mission statement for the organization.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is among the group’s supporters.
“Arnold’s had longstanding concerns about the Republican Party in California,” Daniel Ketchell, Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, told The Sacramento Bee. “He’s committed to helping Chad find a way to reinvigorate the party so it can help all Californians.”
Speaking to reporters in Sacramento, Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, repeated many of the arguments he made before and after losing his leadership post in August. Mayes stepped aside as Assembly GOP leader following a conservative backlash stemming from a deal he struck with Democrats to extend the state’s pollution-fighting cap-and-trade program.
Republicans hold just 25 of 80 Assembly seats and 13 of 40 state Senate seats in California, and a Republican hasn’t won statewide elected office since 2006.
Noting the declining number of GOP voters in California and Democratic dominance in Sacramento, Mayes said California Republicans have “failed to reach out to the average folks in California.”
“They don’t think we care about them,” said Mayes, who is up for re-election this year in a district spanning Riverside and San Bernardino counties. “They don’t think we’re working for their benefit.”
Later, he added: “I’ve often said that Democrats are not our enemy. They are our friends and neighbors. Our responsibility is to sit down and reason with them. The ultimate goal is to make people’s lives better.”
California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte said if New Way “wants to elect Republicans in general elections, great. If it’s another group that’s going to spend 70 or 80 percent of its money on overhead, that would be disappointing.”
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, joined Mayes at the announcement.
“California is being controlled by one voice,” said Chavez, “I don’t blame Democrats. I blame Republicans.”
Without naming names, Mayes said New Way has the support of GOP lawmakers, local government officials, activists and others frustrated by the party’s current course or who feel alienated by the California Democratic Party.
“Many people feel there is no place to go,” Mayes said. “The one message I want to deliver is, there’s hope.”
Mayes describes himself as a “governing conservative” who wants to get things done. He argues that while many Californians agree with GOP ideas, the party’s message is one of exclusion and demands for complete agreement on every issue.
He’s also objected to the rise of Trumpism in the GOP and used Twitter to chastise the state party for allowing former White House strategist and conservative media figure Steve Bannon to deliver the keynote speech at the California GOP convention in Anaheim in October.
New Way comes as California Republicans struggle for power in a state that birthed the political career of conservative icon Ronald Reagan. GOP House incumbents, especially those in Orange County, are considered at-risk in 2018 mid-term elections in which Democrats are expected to make major gains, if not take control of Congress.
Mayes’ calls for inclusiveness and a softer message fail to impress many California Republicans, who, like their counterparts nationwide, embrace President Donald Trump’s message of border security and putting America first and demand fierce opposition to liberalism.
Mayes was called a “cap-and-traitor” by a someone asking a question at a Jan. 4 debate in San Bernardino County between GOP gubernatorial candidates Travis Allen and John Cox. The state party board called on Mayes to resign as Assembly GOP leader following the cap-and-trade deal, and two Republicans are among the field hoping to unseat Mayes in 2018.
Mayes has said he has no regrets over losing his leadership post over cap-and-trade, saying the deal cut regulations, lowered taxes and saved jobs.
New Way is not yet getting involved in races for individual offices, Mayes said, adding: “At some point, we want to engage with people outside of (the capitol).”
Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, said the state GOP “needs a program that is an alternative to Democratic liberalism and toxic Trumpism.”
“Defeat is very educational for political parties, and California Republicans are likely to get another lesson this year,” Pitney said. “The Mayes effort potentially offers a life raft to a party that is taking on water.”