Brulte: 2012 Assembly GOP lost because ‘We got lazy’

March 4, 2013

By John Hrabe Brulte was elected chairman of the California Republican Party in a landslide vote on Sunday. But despite winning support from 90 percent of convention delegates, the former state senator kept campaigning until the end.

“Leaders lead by example,” Brulte, who served as Republican leader in both houses of the California Legislature, told reporters shortly after the party closed its 2013 spring convention. “That’s why I campaigned right up until the votes started to be cast.”

Brulte’s chief adviser, Michael Schroeder, himself a former state party chair, told that Brulte spent the weekend “campaigning around the clock.” At a Sacramento Hyatt that was blanketed with hundreds of “Brulte for Chairman” signs and stickers, he spoke to 10 Republican groups on Friday, followed by 11 more speeches on Saturday, before hosting a 15th-floor hospitality suite late Saturday night.

Leadership, candidates, fundraising all faulted

If he’s to orchestrate a Republican renaissance, Brulte needs his take-nothing-for-granted leadership style to rub off on legislative leaders.

“There were three Assembly seats that were lost because we got lazy,” the state’s new Republican chairman said. “Leaders lead by example, and we have to be in the precincts working, standing shoulder to shoulder with our volunteers.”

Brulte did not specify which districts he believed Republicans should have won in November. However, state Republicans have been heavily criticized for being caught off-guard with lackluster campaigning and poor fundraising in several Assembly seats during the 2012 cycle.

ron.smith.36Perhaps the most egregious case: the 36th Assembly District in the High Desert. Republican candidate Ron Smith reportedly stopped campaigning after the primary and ultimately lost by 145 votes.

“Smith’s loss is typical of the self-inflicted wounds that have destroyed the Republican Party in California, leaving it with fewer legislators than any time in the state’s history,” wrote Tony Quinn, a political commentator and former Republican legislative staffer, in a scathing election post-mortem on Fox and Hounds. “Once he was the only Republican in the runoff, he coasted, assured of election in this ‘safe’ Republican district.”

Smith was too busy hiring staff and hanging pictures, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“I had most of my staff getting ready to be hired, my picture was up on the wall, I had my office that was assigned to me, and I already had two pieces of legislation that were going to be introduced Monday,” a perplexed Smith said in December.

In Orange County, a lack of mother’s milk of politics

If Smith’s loss epitomized lazy legislative campaigning, GOP incumbent Chris Norby’s surprising defeat in the 65th Assembly District in Orange County symbolized the party’s fundraising problems in the lower house. In a span of 18 days, late in the campaign, six Democratic county central committees contributed $292,200 to the Assembly campaign of Sharon Quirk-Silva.

Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book, told that legislative Republicans struggled in 2012 due to a lack of funding.

“The caucus’ problem with the last cycle was the lack of money,” Hoffenblum said. “The one who influences the targeting is the one who raises the money.”

Hoffenblum believes that Brulte’s coronation as chairman will change the party’s fundraising and targeting.

Brulte was less critical of Republicans’ poor showing in state Senate and congressional races.

“We lost some congressional and Senate seats and frankly I’m not sure in a plus-23 election we could have won those,” he said, referring to President Obama’s 60 percent to 37 percent pasting of GOP nominee Mitt Romney in California.

More than 1,300 people attended the state party’s convention. In October, delegates will reconvene in Anaheim.


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  1. Richard Winger
    Richard Winger 5 March, 2013, 09:15

    It is not true that Republicans now have fewer state legislators in California than ever before in history. After the 1860 election, there were only 6 Republican State Senators and only 19 Assemblymembers. There were also fewer Republicans during the 1850’s. Also the November election for state legislature, according to the California Constitution, is not a “runoff”. It is the election itself. No one gets elected in partisan offices in June in California, so the June event is not an “election” (for partisan office). The election is in November and there is no runoff.

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    • Paul Fredrix
      Paul Fredrix 13 October, 2015, 00:23

      Mr. Winger’s comment is either disingenuous or just a bit ignorant. Of course there were fewer GOP Senators and Assemblymen in 1860. There would have had to have been, because in 1860 the Assembly only had 36 members and the Senate only 16, So 6 Senators was a respectable minority, and 19 Assemblymen was an actual Republican majority.

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