Villines Expected to Abandon Leadership Post

May 7, 2009 1:31:04 AM PDT
Mike Villines is one of the so called "Big Five" in the state capitol. Along with the other legislative leaders and the governor he is in a top spot to influence legislation. But many of his Republican colleagues think he didn't do enough to push the party's no tax agenda and now his days as a leader appear to be over.Mike Villines became the leader of the Republicans in the state assembly in 2006. He is from Clovis and was loyal to the Republican agenda, until, he voted to support the compromise budget plan backed by the Governor, and Democrats. Mike Der Manouel Jr. is chairman of the Lincoln Club in Fresno County. A conservative Republican group that feels Villines has not done his job.

"There's a lot of us out here that tragically now feel that he can't be the face of the party because he's enabled the highest tax increase in California history." De Manouel said.

But legislative expert and Political Science Professor Emeritus at Fresno State, David Provost believes Republicans are self destructing.

"My own feeling is Republicans are engaging in an act of suicide in a way. Because Mike Villines is a conservative. He has towed the conservative line very well." Provost said.

Assembly Member Juan Arambula, a Democrat from Fresno said, "I like and respect Mike. I am sorry he is stepping down. I want to thank him for being a good leader. He leaves big shoes to fill."

The leading candidate to fill those shoes, as Republican Assembly Leader is Sam Blakeslee, who's from San Luis Obispo. Der Manouel says a change is needed, despite the Valley's loss of a leadership position.

"It's even more unfortunate that California taxpayers have to fork up 50 billion dollars over the next four years in the middle of recession I think that's far more tragic than losing representation from the Valley." De Manouel said.

But Provost doesn't expect anything to really change.

"These people aren't willing to compromise. Republicans are stuck in their anti tax position no matter what. Democrats are stuck in serving the special interests that got them elected." Provost said.

Villines is expected to announce he's stepping down from the leadership position at a news conference Wednesday morning. He will retain his position as the State Assembly Member from the 29th District, which includes the communities of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Orange Cove and Shaver Lake.

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