Chad Mayes tried to change the Republican Party. Now, he’s targeting the two-party system

Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP

For Chad Mayes’ entire life, people have been telling him variations of “I vote for the candidate. I don’t vote for the party.”

Now, he’s putting that to the test.

The former Republican Assembly leader announced he was abandoning the GOP in December, after several years of struggling to reconcile his long-held beliefs about what the Republican Party stands for with the direction he believes President Donald Trump has taken it. In Tuesday’s primary, he’s running for his fourth term in the California Assembly against two party-backed candidates he defeated in 2018: Republican Andrew Kotyuk and Democrat DeniAntionette Mazingo. But this time, the ballots list his party preference as “None.”

The race will test the power of incumbency versus party affiliation in the Trump era — whether voters will choose the candidate they’ve elected three times by double-digit margins or vote based on the D or R next to someone’s name. “I still believe the same things I’ve always believed,” Mayes explained to The Desert Sun during an interview at a local barbecue joint. “So the question is: Will the district continue to vote for me even though I no longer have the Republican label?” — The Desert Sun

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