San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein made a big move Thursday: the longtime Republican announced he was leaving the GOP to join the Democratic Party.
“Leaving the Republican Party is not easy,” Maienschein said in a press release. “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.”
The four-term assembly member said he has often been at odds with the Republican Party, voting across party lines. He said his beliefs no longer align with the GOP.
“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,” Maienschein said in a press release. “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's flip means that with 61 out of 80 seats, the Democrats now have a super majority in the State Assembly.
His full statement went on to read:
“I believe that our children, our families and our communities deserve to be protected above an unencumbered right to own automatic weapons. I believe in supporting businesses; but that the workforce needs protection - and organized labor provides that protection. I believe that health care should be accessible to everyone - no one should have to choose between medicine and buying groceries.
I believe in the value of life, but I will never allow interference with a woman’s right to choose. I believe that love happens in many forms and no person’s rights should be denied because of who they love. I believe that families come in all shapes and sizes and that’s a good thing. I believe that a person born outside of the US has the right to pursue his or her American dream. And I believe there is no circumstance when a child should be torn from the arms of his or her mother.
My reason for serving has never changed. I still believe that government should help people. I will do everything I can to ensure that it will - as a member of the Democratic Party.”
Maienschein’s flip leaves 19 Republicans in Sacramento to 61 Democrats.
Prior to serving in the California State Assembly, Maienschein served as a member of the San Diego City Council for two terms, until 2008. He was elected to the state assembly in 2012.
Maienschein currently represents the 77th District, which includes parts of San Diego’s North County.
Sunday Gover ran Maienschein in the November 2018 election and narrowly lost the campaign. She released this statement following Maienschein’s big news:
"I ran for State Assembly to fight for middle-class priorities like healthcare, education and gun safety, which Republican politicians representing our community, including Brian Maienschein, had ignored for far too long.
Clearly, our campaign had a massive impact and it’s good news that Mr. Maienschein has finally left the Republican Party, but simply switching parties doesn’t address the issues our community needs championed in Sacramento.
I, and all my supporters 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 and rejects the Republican agenda, or whether his party switch is simply an attempt to hold onto power."
Tony Krvaric, chairman of The Republican Party of San Diego County, also released a statement Thursday about Maienschein, criticizing the politician’s move, especially only a couple of months after winning re-election as a Republican.
He also called on Maienschein to resign.
"Brian Maienschein has shown himself to be the absolute worst kind of politician; someone making decisions based on politics instead of principles. By running for re-election as a Republican he was making a statement about who he was and now he is switching parties for self-preservation and political games," said Krvaric. "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.”
Former assemblymember, and former colleague of Maienschein's, Rocky Chavez, said the move didn't surprise him.
"It shocked me but I wasn't disappointed," Chavez said.
Chavez called Maienschein a thoughtful politician, and said he's someone who is less concerned with voting in step with his party than he is about working across party lines.
"Republicans need some strong leaders and I've always seen Brian as one of those voices in the Republican party that needed to be listened to," Chavez said.