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20110630_ha_budget_sign25887.JPGSix Republican Assembly members gained new titles today as Republican leader Connie Conway expanded and altered her leadership team.

Conway's changes come in the wake of the GOP's Jeff Gorell returning from deployment to the Afghanistan War and Nathan Fletcher's decision to leave the party to register as an independent.

Two moderate Republicans formerly in leadership positions were not included in the new lineup: Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita, formerly an assistant leader; and Bill Berryhill of Ceres, formerly a chief whip.

Sabrina Lockhart, Conway's spokeswoman, said that the exclusions of Smyth and Berryhill were not punitive. Both are leaving the Assembly in December. Smyth is termed out and Berryhill is running for a Senate seat.

Conway, in announcing her leadership changes, vowed to "fight to protect Californians from higher taxes" and to push for "common-sense bipartisan solutions" to problems ranging from pension debt to education budget cuts.

Donald Wagner of Irvine received the title of deputy Republican floor manager on the 13-member leadership team.

Assemblyman Brian Jones of Santee and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto were named assistant republican leader and a chief whip, respectively.

Mike Morrell of Rancho Cucamonga and Paul Cook of Yucca Valley were appointed GOP whips, while Gorell, of Camarillo, was appointed to the newly created post of Republican outreach chair.

Other members of Conway's leadership team will remain in their current posts: Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, caucus chair; Curt Hagman, Chino Hills, assistant floor leader; Steve Knight, Palmdale, assistant leader; Dan Logue, Marysville, chief whip; Jim Nielsen, Gerber, Budget Committee vice chairman; Diane Harkey, Dana Point, Appropriations Committee vice chair; Jim Silva, Huntington Beach, Rules Committee vice chair.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, speaks at a press conference on June 30, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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