California Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes has survived, for now, a challenge to his leadership over his support for extending the state's signature program aimed at fighting climate change.
A vote of no confidence in Mayes fell three votes short Monday during a roughly two-hour private meeting of Assembly Republicans. But Mayes says the caucus will hold another leadership vote next week.
The California Republican Party's board has called on Mayes to resign his leadership post after he led a group of seven Republicans in supporting an extension of cap and trade last month.
Mayes has defended his vote, arguing it was good policy for Republicans because it is a market-based alternative to other emission-reduction policies. But many Republicans say the program will raise gas prices and hurt consumers and businesses.
California Republicans must acknowledge climate change if they want to win over voters in a state where many are concerned about environmental issues, he said.
The controversy surrounding his leadership post goes beyond cap and trade to a debate over the future of the California Republican party, Mayes said.
"Californians don't like Republicans. They don't like Republicans because they don't think that we care about them," he told reporters Monday morning. "Change for us, for California Republicans, is an absolute necessity. ... If we don't, we are going to die."
A spokesman for Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore said she will run to replace Mayes as Assembly Republican leader in next week's vote.
As he was leaving the Monday meeting, Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach said he plans to vote for Assemblyman Jay Obernolte of Hesperia as the next leader. A spokeswoman for Obernolte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.