SAN DIEGO — Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who represents the northeastern San Diego County area, announced Thursday that he has left the Republican Party and has re-registered as a Democrat.
In a statement regarding his re-registration, Maienschein issued a rebuke to a political party he feels has become too partisan, namechecking President Donald Trump. However, the former San Diego city councilman also stated that his policy positions have changed, noting his support for labor unions, universal healthcare and a belief that the safety of local communities should be held above the right to own automatic weapons.
“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 said. “I, too, have changed. As the Republican Party has drifted further right, I — and my votes — have changed.”
Local Democrats have aimed for Maienschein’s seat in recent elections, but the four-term assemblyman has voted in favor of Democratic and even progressive causes in the recent past, such as voting in favor of a 2017 bill that recognized nonbinary as a legal gender. The law went into effect on Jan 1.
Maienschien narrowly won re-election in November, defeating Democratic challenger Sunday Gover by a margin of 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent. Maienschein was one of the last Republicans representing San Diego County in the Assembly and now leaves Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, and Randy Voepel, R- Santee, in that position. Should Gover run for his seat again next year, it will be harder to paint him with the Trump brand the way local Democrats attempted to do so in 2018.
“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.”
The San Diego Republican Party issued a scathing statement on the assemblyman’s switch a short time after the announcement, reading in part:
“Voters learned today that Assemblyman Brian Maienschein has changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat – just over two months after asking the voters of his district to vote for him with an “R” next to his name.
Furthermore, after the election, when things were too close to call, Maienschein demanded – and received – assistance with staffing and attorney representation at the Registrar’s Office while having a million dollars cash on hand.
Chairman Tony Krvaric said: ‘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.'”