SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After serving his district for the last seven years as a Republican and as a registered Republican his entire adult life, California Assemblymember Brian Maienschein says he is now switching parties.

Maienschein represents the 77th district, which encompasses parts of northeast San Diego.

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He surprise announcement came Thursday at a press conference, while Maienschein was flanked by other Democratic lawmakers.

He said, in part:

“I believe that government exists to support families, protect the community and give people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. At that time, I thought the Republican party stood for those values. I still believe in those values. Today’s Republican party does not. Donald Trump has led the Republican party to extremes that divide our country.

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“But his leadership is not the only reason for my change in party affiliation. I too have changed. As the Republican party has drifted further right, I and my votes have shifted to the left.

“Leaving the Republican party is not easy. I can either keep fighting to change the Republican party, or I can fight for my constituents. I choose to use my energy and my skills to fight for the people that I represent.”

As for why he switched parties, Maienschein cites his opposition to peoples’ right to own automatic weapons, his support for labor unions, his support of women’s right to choose to have an abortion, his opposition to families that violate immigration laws being separated, and his support of universal access to healthcare.

The switch furthers the Democratic supermajority in the California State Legislature. The Assembly now consists of 61 Democrats and 19 Republicans. The Senate is composed of 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said, “I welcome the addition of Assemblymember Brian Maienschein to the Democratic Party. His legislation, his actions and his presence in the Assembly have always shown him to be a man committed to ideas for making California better, not to ideology that divides us. As Donald Trump continues to debilitate the Republican Party, Assembly Democrats will continue our work to make things better for Californians.”

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