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Ray Haynes

Melissa Melendez – Woman of Courage

I don’t take enough time to say something positive when it needs to be said. Too often, I am quick to criticize, slow to praise, or too distracted with my every day life to notice and applaud true courage in Sacramento. Today, a great thing happened and it cannot go without comment.

The decision of the Minority Leader in the Assembly (and I emphasize the word minority leader, in my time I was the Republican Whip and the Assistant Republican leader, because I refused to accept my minority position, this leader has capitulated and decided to more like a Vichy than a principled opposition) to negotiate with the Dems over cap and trade was a tragic mistake, one that will have devastating consequences over time. The pro-business leaders in the private sector that counseled surrender on cap and trade have done a huge disservice to the people of California, and the legislators that went along with this surrender deserve the approbation that will be directed at them. They have proven themselves worthy of the superminority status they have in the Legislature, and they will keep that status until they start worrying about doing the right thing, and quit worrying about being the toadie of big business.

That is, except Melissa Melendez.

I will be blunt. I did not endorse her for election when she ran a few years ago, for personal reasons. A friend and supporter was running, and because there was little philosophical difference between them, the deciding factor was loyalty, another value I hold high in politics. Today, however, I am proud Melissa Melendez in my Assemblywoman and sitting in the office in Sacramento. She deserves the highest praise from all of us. This is what I wrote to her today:

Being a legislator is not easy, and giving up a leadership post makes it even harder, but I have grown increasingly disenchanted with the direction of Republican elected leadership in Sacramento. I spent 14 years of my life working to change the state there, with the hope of having a strong and relevant Republican Party in Sacramento. Too often, of late, I have watched while the electeds have sold out principle for personal benefit or short term political gain. In my opinion, Republicans in Sacramento deserve the super minority status they have achieved. You showed me today there is hope. There is a core of electeds there that care about principle, about doing the right thing. Thank you for what you did, and if there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know. Western Riverside County chose wisely when they chose you, and today I am a proud constituent.

Giving up a leadership position has costs that exceed the symbolism. The fact that Melendez gave it up publicly and over principle can have consequences that you and I will never see, when it comes to staff and budgets, leaders have lots of power. We should stand up for her. If you have a Republican Assemblymember, you should write them and tell them you stand with Assemblymember Melendez. I think you should tell them to vote for her for leader. If she gets that position, we will have a Republican, and not a minority leader once again.

We will continue to lose elections at the state level if we cannot discern political expediency from principle. Assemblymember Melendez did that this week, and stood for principle. She truly is a woman of courage. She deserves our encouragement and support.