Republicans Preparing California Comeback

by CalWatchdog Staff | February 29, 2012 1:43 pm

[1]FEB. 29, 2012


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[2]—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[3]. The Trailblazers program would be a state-based version of the Young Guns[4] 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[5] 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.

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  2. 2010’s gubernatorial election:
  3. Trailblazers:
  4. Young Guns:
  5. Web site:

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