Top GOP legislator in California leaves party

The former Republican minority leader of the California state Assembly has left the GOP out of frustration with the direction his party has taken in recent years.
State Assemblyman Chad Mayes on Thursday filed to run for reelection as an independent with no party preference. Mayes said his decision came as he grew increasingly uncomfortable with the spiraling political discourse across the country.
"It's something I've been giving quite a lot of thought to," Mayes told The Sacramento Bee. "Really simply: It's because of my frustration with the way our political system is working today. The political discord in the country is tearing us apart. Unfortunately, all politics is no longer local. It's national."
Mayes did not mention President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE as a catalyst for his exit, but he has been critical of Trump in the past. In July, when Trump urged several Democratic congresswomen of color to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," Mayes called Trump's words "wrong and abhorrent."
"Dear Fellow Republicans, we must speak out and return ourselves to decency. This cannot be who we are," Mayes tweeted at the time.
The California Republican Party rescinded its endorsement of Mayes on Thursday night, which they said he asked for just six weeks ago.
The party said its board of directors "sent a strong message by unanimously rescinding our endorsement of Chad Mayes. Chad has let the Republican Party down just as he let down the voters of California."
Mayes previously served a term as leader of the Assembly's Republican conference. He was ousted after voting with Democrats to extend California's cap and trade plan in August 2017.
The next year, Mayes formed New Way California, a group aimed at moderating the California Republican Party that's backed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
"If we keep doing things the way they've been done as California Republicans, then we're going to keep seeing voter registration drop, we're going to see seats being lost," Mayes told The Hill when he launched the group. "California Republicans have to differentiate themselves from national Republican, because what might work in Washington, D.C., or what might work in the South or other parts of the country aren't going to work here in California."
Mayes's district, which includes parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties in the Inland Empire, leans Republican. Trump captured just under 50 percent of the vote there in 2016, while Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGraham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Hillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady MORE took almost 46 percent.
But state Republicans are unlikely to field a strong challenger against Mayes this year: He announced his decision on Thursday afternoon, about 24 hours before the filing deadline at close of business Friday.
Mayes is the second Republican assemblyman to quit the GOP this year, after Brian Maienschein left to caucus with Democrats in January. There are now just 18 Republicans in the 80-member Assembly, the smallest Republican caucus since 1877.