Campaign to rebrand CA GOP defines Nov. 4

Campaign to rebrand CA GOP defines Nov. 4

CA GOP reclaimWith less than two weeks to go before the November election, the hottest race in California doesn’t have to do with a single candidate, measure or issue. Instead, all eyes are on race to define the state’s Republican Party.

The development has been a long time coming, but only an unexpected sequence of events made it possible. Thanks to an unusual combination of court rulings, scandals and personalities, the Golden State’s electoral landscape has shaped up almost perfectly to offer Republicans a rare opportunity for a public reset on image and substance.

That has added new urgency to some long unanswered questions about how best to balance changes in presentation with changes in policy platforms. Even more significantly, however, the current political moment has given the initiative to a somewhat new breed of moderate-to-liberal Republicans.

The mix of issues that has resonated most with California voters this fall may not be enough for a dazzling Republican victory. But it has proven more than enough to recast the state GOP’s traditionally centrist elite as freshly relevant and inventive.

The Kashkari effect

Neel Kashkari, Republican candidate for governor, has positioned himself at the vanguard of these changes. He has done so in spite of his uphill battle against Democratic incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown.

As Andrew Romano argued at Yahoo News, Kashkari grabbed attention and credibility by doing the one thing the party’s previous two moderate-to-liberal candidates, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman, refused to do — define themselves as proud members of the Republican Party. While Schwarzenegger reveled in his maverick independence, and Whitman ran as a business-savvy outsider, Kashkari set out deliberately to eclipse the red-meat conservative wing of the California GOP and unite the party in a way calculated to grow the base.

“There’s no Republican nominee for anything in the country who has my features — or warts,” Kashkari told Romano. “I’ve demonstrated a model now in California.” Win or lose, Kashkari said, he plans to “stay active,” helping “rebuild the party and fix California.”

For Kashkari, that boils down to an almost exclusive focus on economic issues. But in a departure from the GOP talking points of yore, Kashkari’s definition of economic issues doesn’t center on taxes, but on jobs and education, which are widely perceived in California as the structural pillars of economic vitality.

Moving political goalposts

Traditionally, centrist California Republicans looked on jobs and education through the same pro-corporate, pro-business lens as they did taxes. Now, however, the public view of reform in those issue areas has shifted, giving Kashkari and other state Republicans a different, more powerful angle. Rather than depicting jobs and education as a means to grow productivity within the state’s biggest corporations, the California GOP has begun to describe the two dominant features of Democratic rule: the public pensions crisis and the Vergara ruling.

Vergara found that the state’s seniority-based union contracts violated the right to equal opportunity of the state’s disadvantaged students.

In the first case, job creation has ceased to be a conversation restricted to cutting taxes and incentivizing growth. Instead, it has folded into a broader argument about good governance.

SwearenginLike Kashkari, Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin has faced an uphill climb in her bid for state controller against Democrat Betty Yee, a member of the Board of Equalization.

But Swearengin’s resume — guiding Fresno away from the fiscal abyss by standing up to public union abuses — has already helped to recast the state GOP. With so few other stars, Swearengin has had an outsized impact at a fortunate time. The Swearengin GOP has started to take shape as the party that would restore economic vitality by pruning back the tangled rot of public-sector patronage.

That message has been reinforced by Kashkari’s relentless campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown’s much-loved high-speed rail project. Rather than an engine for future prosperity, as Brown has claimed, Kashkari has presented the bullet train as a quintessential big-government boondoggle: expensive, yes, but even more importantly, a drain on resources, manpower and time.

Rather than simply campaigning against big budgets, Kashkari and Swearengin have worked to campaign against failing policies.

Local opportunities

California Republicans have also enjoyed a late-breaking uptick in political spending, driven by the same sense of pursuing key opportunities no matter how discouraging the big picture may be. In most cases, the gains have symbolic value that can be used to build momentum in the future.

In the redrawn 32nd state Senate district in Los Angeles County, for instance, termed-out and scandal-stricken state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, inadvertently cleared a path for Republican challenger Mario Guerra. Guerra is running against Democrat Tony Mendoza, a former assemblyman. A GOP victory is crucial to keep Democrats from gaining back a 2/3 supermajority in the upper house.

As a result, the California GOP and donor Charles Munger Jr. have doubled their spending for Guerra, gaining $230,000 worth of television and mail advertising, according to the Sacramento Bee.

From a strategic standpoint, the investment would pay off by helping establish the Republican Party as an opportunity for a fresh start, free from corruption and business as usual.

In the East Bay’s 16th Assembly district, meanwhile, Republican Catharine Baker has pulled even with Dublin’s Democratic mayor, Tim Sbranti. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Baker’s candidacy has been fueled by public outrage over public pensions — and by the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle, which applauded her support of the Vergara decision.


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  1. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 October, 2014, 09:18

    Oh, I bet that the Swearengine voters are giving a close look at her, “resume”. Kashkari is a desperate man–no politician could stoop lower than he has, with his drowning-child TV ad, aimed at Jerry Brown. His parents must be proud. If these are the new faces of the Republican party, god help it, and god help Californians!

    Reply this comment
  2. T Ted E-- Mind of your Godhead Ted
    T Ted E-- Mind of your Godhead Ted 23 October, 2014, 10:15

    LOL– YES that drowning child thing was an epic fail. Pathetic bad taste.

    Reply this comment
  3. T Ted E-- Mind of your Godhead Ted
    T Ted E-- Mind of your Godhead Ted 23 October, 2014, 10:16

    Sadly the Repubs need Reagan and Nixon types— statesmen. But they would never get past a primary now because the tea party morons cower the people that have any common sense.

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 23 October, 2014, 10:57


    Knock Knock

    Who is there?


    Edsel who?

    You mean Republican Who?

    Ha ha ha. Love those rebranding jokes

    Reply this comment
  5. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 11:47

    And this is SPECIFICALLY why I left the Republican party and rarely vote Republican anymore. They have compromised their core conservative beliefs and sold out to the lefties. Just like the Catholic Church is selling out to the lefties on abortion, divorce and homosexuality. This will eventually result in a schism and a weakened church. So they might buy a few more lefty votes – but they’ve LOST my vote and the vote of THOUSANDS of other voters who think like me. So what do they really gain by compromising their basic core values? Nada. They HURT their brand name. Not help it. Now they are perceived as traitors and turncoats. And there is nothing worse than that! When ingrained political institutions or religious denominations cave to specious public whims it is the beginning of their end. LetitCollapse!

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 23 October, 2014, 16:01

      LIC, coming from a born and raised Catholic, I have to say that the Catholic church ruined its own reputation by imprisoning the girls in the Irish laundries, stealing their children, and letting many them die in those laundries, never to be seen or heard of again. Then they provided cover for all of the pedophiles who took refuge in its Rectories. I am one of many who has been betrayed by the Church. Stop this crap about how the Catholic church has sold out–it is in dire need of some humanity–recognizing that Gays are born Gay, just as you were born hetero, supporting birth control, and education for young people so that abortion would never need to be considered, would be a start.

      Reply this comment
      • LetitCollapse
        LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 16:52

        Seesaw, there will always be bad people in every institution created by man. I know that. And the Catholic clergy is no different. It got so bad that even some bishops and cardinals did some very evil things and were moral cripples. But all humans are weak. There is a difference between individual human weakness and institutions that change their basic core beliefs and values to appease changing values in society. The Catholics teach that Jesus Christ founded their church and created the laws of the Church. One pope should not have the right to rewrite the laws of Jesus as documented in the bible. Sorry. That’s not acceptable. Nobody overrules Jesus. Abortion, homosexuality and divorce are not allowed in the Catholic Church. I don’t necessarily agree with some of that, but that’s not my call. Jesus made those rules. And if it bothers you that much – don’t attend the Catholic Church.
        I was born and raised Catholic too, Seesaw. I went to Catholic schools. I took a few years hiatus from the Church but now I go to mass a couple times a month. I’m no hardcore Catholic. I tried some of the modern-day pop religion with the guitar playing and the sermons – but it never really felt like a church to me. It was like free entertainment. I don’t believe in everything the Catholic Church teaches or represents. But I do believe in a Creator. And I go to Church to spend time with my Creator. To each his own. But you are asking the Catholics to rewrite the teachings of Jesus Christ as outlined in the bible to satisfy the whims of society. That’s going way too far.

        Reply this comment
        • SeeSaw
          SeeSaw 23 October, 2014, 19:48

          We were taught that the Pope is infallible when it comes to Church doctrine. I am now agnostic.

          Reply this comment
          • LetitCollapse
            LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 21:42

            The Pope is just another bureaucrat who goes around telling everybody how to live. He works hand in hand with the world governments to maintain order in society. The cross and the sword. It’s a pretty remarkable system they’ve designed to keep people . I look at the Pope like I would an appointed cabinet member. Personally, I wouldn’t walk across the street to shake his hand. Sure, I was taught that he was infallible too back when I was dumb enough to believe it.
            That’s pretty slick of you to hedge your bets and be an agnostic, seesaw. I’ve known lots of people who are agnostics. And I understand your position. How are we lowly humans supposed to know for sure whether a ‘God’ exists? Most of us can’t even figure out what to cook for dinner. I just don’t think the universe and humanity could have spontaneously happened by pure random chance. It’s way too complex for that. Volumes of books have been written on the life of a single human cell. I think the universe and all that goes with it had to be designed. Atheists would give me a 1000 reasons why I’m wrong. But I guess we won’t find out until after we take our final breath.

  6. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 11:52

    Jerry Clown is an anarchist and has no business holding high elected office. I am no fan of Cashncarry, but given a choice between those 2 I hope Cashncarry wins. But I will vote for neither. I no longer vote for the lesser of 2 evils. I stopped playing that game years ago. This train don’t stop there anymore! 😀

    Reply this comment
  7. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 October, 2014, 16:05

    In other words, you don’t care to be part of the country in which you live. So be it, if that is your choice.

    Jerry Brown is a good politician, a good Governor, and pragmatic to a fault. He is the only candidate that should be elected Governor this time around. The other guy is an idiot!

    Reply this comment
  8. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 17:01

    “In other words, you don’t care to be part of the country in which you live.”

    No. You’re wrong. I just won’t get played by a phony electoral system. I’m done voting for either Dracula or Frankenstein. The whole thing is fixed anyway. The ruling class already knows who will be elected POTUS in 2016. It’s already been decided. People like you think their votes actually count! HAH! All the top candidates are vetted far in advance and wouldn’t even be in the race unless they had the blessing of the ruling class. No matter who gets elected – everything stays the same. I do vote for some of the propositions though. But I have lost all faith in human politics.

    Reply this comment
  9. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 October, 2014, 20:00

    The votes are still counted–if you choose not to vote, you choose not to pontificate on the results. After you are gone, do you think they are going to raise one for you because you kept loyal to your deep convictions? Fortunately we can choose whether or not to vote in America. In Australia they get fined if they fail to vote.

    Reply this comment
  10. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 23 October, 2014, 21:50

    “In Australia they get fined if they fail to vote.”

    I didn’t know that. That’s worse than forcing people to buy healthcare insurance. I had no idea that the aussie gov was fascist. No one should be forced to vote. If people don’t want to be part of a corrupted system they should have that right.

    Reply this comment
  11. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 24 October, 2014, 07:20

    So the CAGOP is repainting the lifeboats on the Titanic. {yawn}

    Reply this comment

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RepublicansNeel KashkariJames Poulos2014 election

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