Calif. state lawmaker leaves GOP, blasts Trump

Calif. state lawmaker leaves GOP, blasts Trump
© California State Assembly

A recently reelected state lawmaker in California announced Thursday that he is leaving the Republican Party to become a Democrat, citing President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE and GOP leadership for his decision.

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein said he has been moving away from the party since he was first elected in 2012 to represent the 77th District in the California Assembly, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

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Surrounded by Democrats in Sacramento, Maienschein said he differs with the GOP on key issues such as immigration, health care, gun control, abortion and gay rights.

“Donald Trump has led our party to the extreme on issues that divide our country,” he said.

The lawmaker defeated his Democratic opponent in November by roughly 600 votes, the newspaper reported.

Assembly Democrats on Thursday embraced Maienschein with open arms.

“His legislation, his actions and his presence in the Assembly has always shown him to be a man committed to idea making California better, not to ideology that divides us,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a statement.

Assembly Republican leader Marie Waldron called Maienschein a “turncoat.”

“It’s unfortunate that Brian’s takeaway from his extremely close reelection was that his political future depended on becoming a turncoat. Unfortunately some people run for office simply because they want a job, regardless of political philosophy,” Waldron said in a statement. “It appears that Brian falls into this category.”

Maienschein’s defection gives Democrats 61 seats in the 80-member Assembly.

He joins a number of many prominent Republicans who have disavowed or left the GOP in recent months.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of California’s Supreme Court left the party in December, just months after the GOP-led Senate confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughKavanaugh to teach summer course in England GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left MORE.

Former Rep. David Jolly (Fla.) said in October that he and his wife would re-register without a party affiliation.

"It's also just a personal rejection of partisanship. It's a very comfortable place for us to be," Jolly said of his decision.

Lori Stegmann, an elected official in Oregon, left the Republican Party in July, saying she could not condone “the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior of the current administration.”

Maine state Rep. Don Marean announced earlier this month he was leaving the GOP to become an independent.