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California Republican Lawmaker Defects to Democrats

Brian Maienschein
Center: Brian Maienschein

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein joins the exodus of Republicans put off by the policies of Donald Trump.

A recently reelected member of the California Assembly has switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic, citing objections to Donald Trump's policies and the Republicans' general ideology.

Brian Maienschein, who represents the 77th District, including parts of San Diego and neighboring communities, made the announcement Thursday, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

"Leaving the Republican Party is not easy. I can either keep fighting to change the Republican Party or I can fight for my constituents. I choose to use my energy and skills for the people I represent," Maienschein said in a prepared statement.

"Donald Trump has led the Republican Party to the extreme on issues that divide our country, but his leadership is not the lone reason for my change in party affiliation. I too have changed. As the Republican Party has drifted further right, I - and my votes - have changed. As a single father to two girls I am guided by my hopes and dreams for their future."

Maienschein, first elected to the Assembly in 2012, was reelected in November by only about 600 votes, or 1 percent of the total, over Democratic challenger Sunday Gover.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, praised Maienschein as an independent thinker.

Gover expressed mixed feelings.

San Diego Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric, however, said Maienschein was "switching parties for self-preservation and political games," the Union-Tribune reports.

"Blaming President Trump doesn't cut it as we had the same president in 2018 as today. I call on Brian Maienschein to do the honorable thing and resign immediately, allowing voters to elect someone under honest pretenses," Krvaric said.

Democrats hold a majority in both the Assembly and Senate. Maienschein's move gives the Dems 61 of the Assembly's 80 seats.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye announced in December that she was leaving the Republican Party. Several officials in other states have also recently switched from Republican to Democrat or unaffiliated. Barbara Bollier, a state senator in Kansas, cited the Republicans' anti-transgender ideology as one of the main reasons she left the GOP and became a Democrat.

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