Republicans Preparing California Comeback

FEB. 29, 2012

By BRIAN CALLE

BURLINGAME — CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN CONVENTION — Will California be Reagan Country again?

California’s Republican Party in recent years has been relegated to a regional party with little ability to gain traction in statewide elections. The devastating results for the Golden State’s GOP in 2010’s gubernatorial election—when Democrats swept every statewide elected office while the rest of the country trended Republican—was perhaps the sound of the California Republican Party hitting rock bottom.

Addressing the state party’s irrelevance head on at the California Republican Party Convention just outside of San Francisco last weekend, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority whip who represents parts of central California, argued that Republicans in California are on the verge of a comeback.

“Is the California Republican Party going to stay relevant?” he asked, referencing recent stories suggesting the party’s continued decline. “The fastest-growing party in California is ‘Decline-to-State’: Are we going to let them continue to write those stories, or are we going to admit that we’ve hit rock bottom and can only go up from here?”

McCarthy argued that Republicans in California are in the same position the national Republican Party found itself in after Republicans lost the U.S. Congress in 2006 and subsequently the White House in the 2008 presidential election. He said, “After we lost the majority in Congress, Time magazine said that the GOP will never be relevant again.” But Republicans took back the U.S. House in 2010, and “87 new freshmen defeated some 60 incumbents.”

Republicans in Sacramento have seen their influence and relevance wane for some time. Even though former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a registered Republican while in office, he hardly acted as if he was a member of the party both in his legislative priorities and his commitment to building a stronger state GOP.

Schwarzenegger Haze

Even before the Schwarzenegger haze, which began shortly after he was elected in 2003, Republicans had been struggling. In fact the last time Republicans held any significant power in either house of the Legislature was with a brief majority in the Assembly in 1996.

Now Democrats control the state’s governorship and have majorities in both the state Senate and the Assembly. And some believe they are on the verge of extending those majorities to more than two-thirds in each house, which would give Democrats the ability to raise taxes without one Republican vote.

McCarthy discussed plans to recruit and develop young conservatives to run for the Legislature with a new program called Trailblazers. The Trailblazers program would be a state-based version of the Young Guns program that McCarthy and others developed to elect young conservatives to Congress. The “same concept that was used across the country can be implemented in California,” he told convention goers.

So far, the Trailblazers Web site is rudimentary, with its Facebook link going to nowhere.

McCarthy’s optimism was something his party mates in California likely needed to hear over the weekend. He may be correct that the timing is good for a Republican resurgence in the state.

Even so, the state GOP must also regain the trust of voters and demonstrate a commitment to principles and good governance, not to mention a palatable message for state voters — feats more easily said than done.

14 comments

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  1. Andy Favor
    Andy Favor 29 February, 2012, 14:31

    Well, I am not a Republican and I don’t see the GOP doing a single thing to bring me into the GOP tent. And while McCain-Feingold may have destroyed my political home, my plans are to just be a non-voter in the races. I will probably still vote for the propositions though. As the great R.C. Hoiles said:

    “It has been asserted that only if you vote do you have any right
    to complain about what transpires on the political scene….

    We would point out, on the other hand, that only by refusing to
    participate in the game do you retain the clear right to protest
    what the game produces.

    For when you vote, you have not only participated in the system
    but, in addition, have tacitly agreed beforehand to accept and abide
    by whatever the system brings forth.

    The voter complaining about the outcome of an election is standing
    on untenable ground. Philosophically, morally and factually, only the
    non-voter is in a logical position to protest….

    When you participate in the political con game, you sanction it.”

    Editorial April 17, 1971
    R.C. Hoiles
    “The Orange County REGISTER”

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 29 February, 2012, 14:50

    The GOP-Dem game is a scam. It’s one-party system. In public they fight with one another to get your buy-in. It’s all political Kubuki Theater for your entertainment. Behind closed doors they’re best of friends. I have no idea why ordinary people cannot understand this.

    On a national level what happened when the GOP controlled both the executive office and congress? The nation imploded financially. Wake the hell up!

    There are only 2 ways to save this country:

    1. Take the corporate and union BIG money out of politics.

    2. Restore the rules so that 3rd party candidates have a fighting chance in our elections.

    Until those 2 things happen nothing will change.

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 29 February, 2012, 15:10

    And Andy Favor is correct. Your vote just legitimizes the fraud that is inherent in most of the elections that are driven by big money and special interests.

    Did any of you decide who the GOP presidential candidates would be? Did any of you have a choice? Nope. Another handful of losers were thrown at you and now you are being instructed to pick one. Is that a democracy? Is being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils the way to build a better government and does it represent a representative democracy?

    Reply this comment
  4. Rogue Elephant
    Rogue Elephant 29 February, 2012, 15:42

    Ummm, so the unprincipled Washington GOP establishment (who helped foist Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina off on us – losers both) is giving lessons to the (equally) unprincipled California GOP establishment? Riiiiiiiight.

    Reply this comment
  5. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 29 February, 2012, 18:25

    Read the informative study below from the Public Policy Institute of California and then explain why the California Republican Party keeps trying to steer its candidates further and further to the right–away from the moderates and independents that clearly decide the elections in our state. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to be different.

    “For years, we’ve talked about how the national color coded shorthand for California politics is overly simplistic. Yes, the state may be “blue” in total votes cast in some races — presidential, most notably — but the real color palette of California is far more complicated.

    Which is where a new academic study comes in, one that shows just how politically complicated we Californians really are.

    The report from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California concludes, both in data and in vivid color, that the state is much more in the political middle… and even leans more conservative… than many people assume.

    The report is based on a new analysis of data compiled from PPIC’s many statewide polls on the issues of the day. And that seems to be an important point, as the polling helps any kind of real political analysis not get trapped in things like voter registration. Yes, Democrats far outnumber Republicans in California… but not all Democratic voters vote for Democratic candidates and causes, and nonpartisan/independent voters also don’t always perform as expected. Sure, Dems won all of the constitutional offices in 2012 but you only have to look at the final vote count in the race for attorney general (where AG Kamala Harris squeaked by GOP candidate Steve Cooley) to know that voter registration doesn’t tell us much about the political realities.

    The PPIC report breaks California down into five distinct groups: loyal liberal, moderate liberal, conservative liberal, moderate conservative, and committed conservative. Clearly that list points out the more nuanced versions of “liberal,” which no doubt explains the Democratic party’s dominance.

    Of those groups, PPIC argues the largest bloc of Californians (49%) are either moderate or conservative liberals. But looking at the other groups helps explain some of the other political fights in recent years. For example, the loyal and moderate liberal factions — which is where the state’s national reputation resides — is only 42% of the electorate, whereas the majority skews has tendencies towards conservative opinions on fiscal or social issues, or both.

    But it gets even more interesting than that. The 49% of the population that’s moderately liberal (24%) or conservatively liberal (25%) is really where so many of the state’s biggest fights are resolved. PPIC defines a moderate liberal as “moderately liberal on both social and fiscal issues” and a conservative liberal as “conservative on social issues and moderately liberal on fiscal issues.” That may help explain the fights on everything from same sex marriage to the budget and taxes.

    PPIC also finds that Republicans are very homogenous when it comes to their political ideology, whereas Democrats are much more complex:

    Democrats (and independents who lean Democratic) are more ideologically diverse. In every part of the state, conservative Democrats make up at least 9 percent of people who identify with Democrats—and in all but three places, they make up at least 12 percent. Furthermore, the numbers of either “conservative” or “strongly conservative” Democrats are quite high in some areas: 40 percent in the eastern portion of San Bernardino County, 35 percent in Imperial County, and almost 30 percent in eastern Riverside County and much of the San Joaquin Valley.

    The authors of the study point out that this kind of Democratic heterogeneity means there are opportunities for Republicans in California and self-styled moderates… opportunities, perhaps, that will be amplified under the two big electoral changes coming online in 2012: new political districts and the top-two primary system.

    “Only the Bay Area,” say the authors, “is home to extraordinarily large numbers of people who hold opinions associated with the Democratic Party.”

    Take a look, too, at PPIC’s maps of the purple electorate on a whole host of issues — from abortion rights to action on climate change — and you’ll see just how complex Californians really are when it comes to their politics.”

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 29 February, 2012, 19:32

    Steve will you PLEASE post your OWN comments here. Comments YOU yoruself write;

    http://blogs.kqed.org/capitalnotes/2012/02/29/californias-political-purple-reign/

    (Steve, I see you commented here too, so I know this is where you cut and pasted from)

    Reply this comment
  7. Can't Be Too Cynical
    Can't Be Too Cynical 29 February, 2012, 20:10

    Score one for Rex The Wonder Dog! StevefromSacto should try some original thinking and writing instead of regurgitating establishment talking points churned out by the elitist “progressive” snobs at PPI. I for one have completely rejected the false paradigm of the Red Team vs. Blue Team nonsense. Tweedledumb or Tweedledee makes no difference to me!

    All we ever get is the same Welfare/Warfare state kleptocracy regardless of who runs the show. Commiefornia is a lost cause. No amount of Pollyanna thinking will change that. This is the land of the lotus eaters where reality intrudes infrequently and Hollyweird fantasy thinking predominates. If that disturbs you then the only solution is to plot your gettaway and hope the whole sorry ass country doesn’t emulate this self destructive idiots republic. California is the way it is because most voters in this state are dumb as a bag of rocks and twice as useless. But hey the weather is nice!

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 1 March, 2012, 00:42

    StevefromSacto wrote quoted the study, “For years, we’ve talked about how the national color coded shorthand for California politics is overly simplistic.”

    Actually, California politics is simple: It’s crazy. Get out while you can.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  9. queeg
    queeg 1 March, 2012, 10:59

    What a joke!!!

    Donations for political operatives the only game in town…..and they are alarmily down!!!

    How can conservatives be so stupid…they run from taxes and the common man but gladly give their gold to prennial losers….

    Reply this comment
  10. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 1 March, 2012, 11:14

    Doesn’t matter…..dem or pub……all of them are like rattlesnakes. Watch them from a distance but don’t get too close. Don’t ever trust them. Once you give them your trust that’s the time that they strike. And political rattlesnakes are the worst kind. They don’t give you the courtesy of shaking their rattlers as a warning first.

    Reply this comment
  11. Shame on Me
    Shame on Me 1 March, 2012, 12:35

    California is not well served by its permanent political consultants — too many are mediocre, poorly educated and condescending. Think “Revenge of the Nerds” without the smarts. No wonder productive, engaged individuals are leaving CA in droves.

    Reply this comment
  12. Fred Mangels
    Fred Mangels 1 March, 2012, 13:39

    I think the Republicans might make some gains if they became more socially liberal (or tolerant?). By that I mean along the line of the libertarians who are regarded as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

    I doubt that will happen, though, since the socially conservative are such a large part of the Republican Party.

    Reply this comment
  13. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 3 March, 2012, 23:30

    Hahahahaha!!! This was a great satire piece!

    Reply this comment
  14. David
    David 8 March, 2012, 07:53

    California is a liberal mecca. Accept that. A lot of productive conservatives have left the state. This is one reason the republican party is in such bad shape. Let the liberals just mess it up. At some point, even they, will get it.

    Reply this comment

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