by John | October 2, 2015 6:39 am
When California Republican activists converged on the Anaheim Marriott in mid-September, they experienced something they hadn’t felt in years.
“It’s an exciting time for the delegates as we embark on a journey in 2016 by selling principles of limited government and holding the line on taxes,” said Allen Wilson, a delegate to the state party and member of the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee. “That resonates with millions of Californians.”
Since former State Senator Jim Brulte took over the helm in 2013, the state party has made steady progress in picking up legislative seats and rebuilt its party operations. Last November, California Republicans defeated two Democratic incumbents — the first time in two decades that a Democratic incumbent has lost re-election to the Legislature.
Brulte also put Democrats on the defensive in the Central Valley, forcing the state party to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rescue Assemblyman Adam Gray in his re-election campaign.
Although Brulte deserves credit for a shrewd campaign strategy and effective fundraising, Republicans’ legislative gains in 2014 were aided, in part, by a record low turnout. The 2014 electorate also skewed heavily toward older, more conservative voters.
According to an analysis by Political Data, Inc., less than 10 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted last November.
“In California, an 18- or 19-year-old was more likely to be arrested this year than actually vote in one of the statewide elections,” Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc., told KQED earlier this year.
Next year, Republicans won’t be so lucky, when the presidential election is expected to draw more young people to the polls.
But, this time around, state GOP activists say that the party is doing a better job of reaching the younger generation as demonstrated by the turnout at the state party convention.
“The most exciting thing is to see the numbers of young people in attendance,” said Dr. Alexandria Coronado, a longtime Republican activist and former president of the Orange County Board of Education. “They are energized and ready to work for the conservative cause.”
Republicans have reason to be optimistic, but state political observers say the party still has a long way to go.
“The California Republican Party used to exist in the hospice care of American politics, but now they’re undergoing plastic surgery,” said John Phillips, an Orange County Register columnist and co-host of “The Drive Home with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips” on KABC AM 790. “Unfortunately, it’s the doctor that did Kanye West’s mom.”
Phillips believes that Republicans’ best chance is to embrace “tough on crime,” fiscal conservatives.
“If they want to expand the base, they need to run fiscal conservatives who are hard on criminals and are social libertarians,” Phillips said. “Otherwise, have fun handing over control of the state to the SEIU.”
That approach has worked in San Diego, where Mayor Kevin Faulconer has achieved sky-high popularity. There’s even talk that Faulconer won’t draw a major Democratic opponent in 2016.
Nearly one hundred delegates and guests made the short journey up from San Diego County and shared their optimism with their fellow GOP activists from around the Golden State.
“I’d say the convention was a success as we re-adopted a solid, conservative platform and adopted a common sense rule to skip two conventions in the ‘on’ year,” said San Diego County Republican Chairman Tony Krvaric. “A lot will depend on how the presidential race develops, but I’m very optimistic about our chances to have a ‘Republican wave’ in 2016 which will have reverberations all the way down the ticket.”
That positive attitude was echoed throughout the convention halls.
“This working weekend made me realize how far we have come,” former Downey city councilman Mario A. Guerra, who ran a strong but unsuccessful State Senate campaign in 2014, wrote on Facebook, “and how much more we need to do here in California.”
Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2015/10/02/gop-activists-excited-partys-improving-prospects-california/
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