SACRAMENTO — Under pressure from Assembly Republican Leader Ross Johnson, Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) has resigned from the GOP Caucus leadership.
"It was apparent Tom was not comfortable with my leadership," Johnson said in a statement released late last week. "There are a lot of members who are enthusiastic about the job I am doing as leader and I want someone like that on my team."
McClintock said he was not surprised by his ouster as caucus whip, the No. 4 spot in the party leadership. McClintock, whip since 1984, acknowledged that he has "expressed serious disagreements with the direction Ross has provided the caucus for a long period of time."
Johnson sought McClintock's resignation during a meeting last week. Anne Richards, Johnson's press secretary, said there was not any single issue that prompted the request. But she said that the Johnson-McClintock split has been developing for about a year.
Johnson of La Habra named Assemblyman Phillip Wyman (R-Tehachapi), whose district includes Palmdale and Lancaster, to replace McClintock as one of two GOP whips. The whips make GOP lawmakers aware of caucus positions and ensure that Assembly rules are being followed during floor debates.
McClintock's resignation is the latest in a string of problems to surface among Assembly Republicans since the November, 1988, election, in which three incumbent GOP lawmakers lost their seats. Democrats outnumber Republicans 46-33, with one vacancy.
During last month's special legislative session on earthquake relief, McClintock and other Republicans unsuccessfully pushed for an alternative to a temporary quarter-cent sales tax increase negotiated by the leadership of both parties and Gov. George Deukmejian.
Three weeks ago, McClintock called for "some very serious housecleaning" at the Assembly GOP Caucus after Karin Watson, a top GOP Assembly aide, admitted that she extorted $12,500 for her bosses and is cooperating with a federal investigation of Capitol corruption. McClintock was among only a handful of GOP lawmakers who publicly urged Johnson to dismiss Watson, who was subsequently fired.
McClintock, unlike many of his colleagues, also has refused to back Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) in her primary race against Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia).
The four-term lawmaker suggested that his resignation could strengthen him politically. Said McClintock: "It gives me greater freedom within the caucus to express my concerns that we have not been devoting the kind of attention we ought to defining the differences between the parties."