by Chris Reed | February 27, 2017 8:01 am
The California Republican Party wrapped up its annual spring convention by re-electing former state Sen. Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga, to his third term as state chairman – but while also moving away from policies Brulte has touted to stands more attuned with President Donald Trump.
The leader of California Republicans since 2013, Brulte had gone along with conventional GOP wisdom – pre-Trump – about the need for his party to moderate its views on social issues and immigration. This led to the formal acceptance in Republican ranks in 2015 of a gay GOP group – Log Cabin California – and to the adoption in 2016 of an immigration platform far removed from past conservative rhetoric.
But Sunday, resolutions touting key parts of Trump’s populist platform were embraced without debate by GOP delegates gathered at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Delegates supported a repeal of the Affordable Care Act by April 30, which marks 100 days in the White House for Trump; crackdowns on “sanctuary cities” that resist cooperation with federal immigration enforcement; and for citizens from seven mostly Muslim nations to be thoroughly investigated before being allowed to stay in the United States.
The resolutions were prepared with the help of Steve Frank, a past president of the California Republican Assembly and the state GOP’s parliamentarian for four terms, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Brulte didn’t take the change of Republican focus as a rebuke and downplayed the idea that the state party was at low ebb, based on continuing Democratic dominance of state government and on Trump getting just 32 percent of California’s vote – the weakest showing by a major-party candidate in the Golden State since 1920.
The former GOP Assembly and Senate leader was upbeat in interviews.
“I’m actually excited about our prospects. We’ve spent a lot of money trying to figure out if there is a path forward. We believe there is. We believe we can elect a Republican governor in 2018,” Brulte told KQED. “I’ve always said one, two, three election cycles isn’t going to repair [the state party’s woes]. It is a long-term slog.”
Only two Republicans have won statewide office in California this century: Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 gubernatorial recall of Gray Davis and in his 2006 re-election, and tech entrepreneur Steve Poizner as insurance commissioner in 2006, when he beat then-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who was widely disliked in Democratic circles for joining Schwarzenegger in challenging fellow Democrat Davis in the 2003 recall free-for-all.
The last Republican to come close to winning statewide office was in the 2010 race for attorney general. Then-Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley led then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris in early counts before Harris came on to win 46.1 percent to 45.3 percent – a 74,000-vote margin out of 9.6 million votes. Cooley didn’t concede until three weeks after election day, after Harris’ margin topped 50,000 votes.
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