California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (San Diego) announced Thursday that he was leaving the Republican Party and becoming a Democrat, just a few months after he was re-elected running as a GOP candidate, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Maienschein won re-election against his Democrat opponent in November by just 600 votes. His move left the remaining members of the California GOP with a bad taste in their mouths.
"While Brian is enjoying the perks of his new status as a member of the Democrat majority in the Legislature, we Republicans will continue to stand for the people of California," Assembly GOP Leader Marie Waldron said in a statement.
Why did he switch parties?
Maienschein claims he has been moving away from the Republican Party for some time, and is now tired of fighting to try to change the party to what he thinks it should be.
"Leaving the Republican Party is not easy," Maienschein said. "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."
He also cited President Donald Trump as a reason for his change, but not the only reason.
"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," Maienschein continued in his statement. "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."
Suspicions about his motives
While the California Democratic Party was happy to welcome another member to increase their power in the state Assembly, some were suspicious about the timing and motive of the change.
"Those of us who were determined to elect a Democrat in the 77th Assembly District, will be watching closely to see whether Mr. Maienschein fully embraces our community's values & rejects the Republican agenda, or whether his party switch is simply an attempt to hold onto power," his November opponent Sunday Gover wrote on Twitter.
GOP leader Waldron didn't hold back in his analysis of the switch.
"It's unfortunate that Brian's takeaway from his extremely close re-election was that his political future depended on becoming a turncoat," Waldron said. "Unfortunately some people run for office simply because they want a job, regardless of political philosophy. It appears that Brian falls into this category."
There are now 61 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the California Assembly.