Calif. GOP Deflects At Convention

Katy Grimes: While many described the California Republican Party convention this weekend as being drama filled because of the differences within the party, I found it lacking in any sincere drama – that is, lacking in substance.

Too much took place behind the scenes. And many of the journalists resorted to Tweets and sound bites, covering squabbles instead of what was not taking place.

What was not taking place was much substance – at least for those who attended to participate.

One deflection occurred when California Republican Party delegates voted to denounced former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to commute the manslaughter sentence of Esteban Nunez, (son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez) from 16 years to seven.

Now that’s a really important party decision. What did that do for the party of for delegates who traveled more than 500 miles to attend the convention? As the AFLAC goat says, “Nah, nah, nah.” Let Schwarzenegger stay in the past where he belongs.

Of the 1,400 California Republican party delegates, 250 attended the convention this weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, according to CRP Communications Director Mark Standriff.

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but with economic times being so difficult, if the party had a strong message and a clear direction, delegates may have come out stronger in this time of need.

Instead, Congressman Kevin McCarty’s party was all the talk Saturday. And unfortunately, McCarty’s party wasn’t even held at the Hyatt – it took place at the union-dominated Sheraton Hotel around the corner.

“Tempers flared Friday over a proposal by (Ron) Nehring to allow local delegates to nominate legislative and congressional candidates before a primary. During a committee meeting, state Sens. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo and Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga stormed out,” the AP reported.

The party was trying to control who gets to run in California Republican politics – not a good move amongst voters. There was a Tom McClintock-backed push to involve all California registered Republicans in a primary.

In a letter handed out on McClintock stationary, McClintock criticized the Schwarzenegger-backed Proposition 14, which decimated the grass-roots nominating process in the state.

“Now, Republican officials want to relegate the nomination power to the themselves,” wrote McClintock. “I believe that any process that takes the Republican nomination out of the hands of Republican voters is undemocratic and out to be vigorously opposed by the party.”

The CPR rules committee approved the plan to determine the party’s officially endorsed candidates by allowing California registered Republicans to vote on it. Republican Party will mail ballots to the state’s 5.3 million GOP voters for their Republican candidate choices before the primary. The winner(s) will then receive the party’s endorsement before the primary. But this won’t take place until 2014.

But some were critical because of the people involved in the plan. Mike Spence, explained McClintock, wrote the proposal which “calls for a mailed ballot election for all registered Republican voters to name the Republican nominee in all future elections.”

The plan is to prevent “would-be-king-makers,” and signify the power struggle within the party behind those who believe in the voter, and those who want to control elections.

Remember that those who talk-up transparency rarely practice it.

Since former Gov. Pete Wilson was in office, there has been a growing divide in the party pitting conservatives against moderates. And while differences such as this can rear-up at party conventions, it does not bode well for immediate success within the party for the next round of elections.

Republicans should be fighting over policy and Democrats, the budget and the current administration, and not against each other by taking swipes and cheap shots within.

In order to rise above this current level of immaturity, self-importance and self-absorbtion, Republican Party leadership needs to stop winking at themselves in the mirror, and focus on the high unemployment in the state and the damaging policies being put forth by Democratic legislators, with the assistance of complicit Republicans.

Yes, the party appears to lack cohesion, message, policy, and even ideology right now. A few good leaders could eradicate the childish behavior and set the course. Faithful Republican voters that I talked with at the convention have had it with the antics and immaturity, and want to get back to sound policy talks, and boot the moderates who waffle, and those who operate with only an eye for resume-building.

The Republican Party needs sincere reformers. Voters are craving a reason to go to the ballot box. But first Republicans have to figure out how to attract Republican voters. This weekend did not inspire many, and probably sent more than a few home feeling dirty.

But, never say never.

Republicans need to identify the leaders within. Reaffirm the ideology. Solidify the message. And tell the truth.

That shouldn’t be so tough – unless a different agenda is in the way.

MAR. 21, 2011

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