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Wouldn't Kashkari's world be amazing?

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 15:57:44 PM PDT

IMG_9936 copyGOP candidate for governor pictures very different GOP than actually exists

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari made a big speech this weekend at the California Republican Party's convention. It was meant to do two things: shore up his base and project a vision of a moderate party that could face California's future challenges. In many ways, these goals are diametrically opposed to each other.

It may have accomplished the base aspect, with convention goers seeming to be happy. Or at least they told the media that they were happy. Of course, it still wasn't enough for Controller candidate Ashley Swearingen to be convinced:

Delegate Matt Kauble of Cerritos said he voted for Kashkari's tea party rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), in the June primary but was impressed by Kashkari's passion about relieving poverty and his desire to appeal to a multiracial audience.
*** **** ***
Ashley Swearengin, running for controller, told reporters Friday that she hadn't made up her mind between Kashkari and Brown because she hadn't yet had a chance to meet with the Republican. State party chairman Jim Brulte labeled her strategy "Felony stupid" in an email exchange with other party members. (LA Times)

I must say, "felony stupid" is really an underused term. I think I'll add it to my daily conversational repertoire. At any rate, base consolidation is a question best answered by FlashReport and the similar outlets. But the question of whether he, and the CRP, can speak to the broader California electorate is a different beast. So that's where he comes up with this:

"When they said we don't care about the poor, we don't care about minorities, they have no idea what they're talking about," Kashkari said.(LA Times)

He backed all that up with historical connections, including the GOP's support of the Civil Rights Act. And that is partially true. The civil rights legislation of the 60s and 70s wouldn't have occured without the support of Northern Republicans. Except that most of those Republicans (see Chaffee, Lincoln) have left the GOP for the Democratic Party. And then there is the small matter of the now widely acknowledged Southern strategy.

Wouldn't it be great if Kashkari's vision were actually true? I would love to live in a world where there was robust debate between two parties focused on how to best ensure that no American went to bed hungry or homeless. But that world is not this one. No matter how you try to dress up the Republican party, especially the California Republican party, it is still a right-wing organization with signed contracts of inflexibility.

Maybe in another generation or so we could see two (or, preferably, more!) parties that can speak to the California electorate giving voters real options. But the CRP that Kashkari hopes to lead is not that one.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Demographic Doom for California Republicans

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 10:24:07 AM PST

Former California Assembly & Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte at Modern Direct DemocracyLA Times poll has dire warnings for the minority party

by Brian Leubitz

If you look at the composition of the legislature, or the voter registration numbers, you'll quickly see that we are in a pretty gloomy era for Republicans. But, wait, darker days are just around the corner: a LA Times poll shows just how poorly the CRP is situated in front of the demographic wave.

Already those younger and minority voters - 38% of the voter pool - are propping up Democrats in California. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has a positive job approval rating of 55% overall. Among white voters the rating is 51%. Among black voters, it is 61%, Among Latinos, it is 67%.

Other poll findings suggest no end to that imbalance. Asked their political ideology, 52% of those ages 49 and younger describe themselves as liberal, to 40% who say conservative. That is close to the opposite of those over 50, only 47% of whom say they are liberal to 58% conservative. (LA Times)

As the Times points out, there is hope for the GOP that younger voters will gradually shift to the right, a process that has occurred in previous generations. But if you look at who today's Republicans are, here is what you get: a middle aged, upper middle class, white man.

These are not the demographics for future electoral success. Minorities continue to grow as a percentage of voters, and broader participation in statewide elections could simply exacerbate these problems for the CRP.

But the CRP isn't alone, this is the same problem generally facing the entire Republican Party.  And Gov. Chris Christie is an excellent example of this. He is considered a moderate Republican, and gains a strong majority of support among Northeastern Republicans. But he only gets 27% of Southern GOP support in a recent poll. And head to head against Hillary Clinton, no Republican candidate can really claim to have an electability argument in their favor.

If the Republicans are to move forward as a viable party, they need to consider whether they will stick to the ideological guns on social and immigration issues. As it stands, even a solid political tactician like Jim Brulte won't be able to swing the party's fate without a major shift in their overall goals as a party.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Republicans Don't Like Their Dirty Laundry in The Open

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:39:38 AM PDT

California Republican Assembly leader defeated after rape comments

by Brian Leubitz

Once is a slip, an uniformed comment. Twice is a troubling pattern, but perhaps just two outliers. A third crazy rape statement  makes it pretty hard to explain away. The last thing Republicans needed as March rolled around was more fuel for the rape comment fire.

Now, Celeste Greig is hardly a powerhouse. She was president of the California Republican Assembly (CRA), once a powerful group that has been slowly slipping into obscurity in step with the fate of the California GOP in general. She commanded no votes. Her power was simply that of a "grasstops" conservative activist. Not typically the kind of people that journalists are targeting for the juicy quotes. But, Ms. Greig found time to give the Mercury News just that back at the winter California Republican convention:

Before arriving at the state GOP's spring convention here, Celeste Greig told this newspaper that pregnancies by rape are rare "because it's an act of violence, because the body is traumatized." (Steve Harmon / Bay Area News Group)

Along with that, she said that Akin's comments were insensitive, and tat they should never have been said. But by the time the reader gets to them, the factually incorrect "scientific" part of the quote has already grabbed the attention. You kind of have to feel bad for her, she isn't really a politician, but she went ahead and talked to journalists without really knowing what she was talking about. And that is always a bad situation.

The reaction was rampant across the web as the story came out. The CRA got more attention in those few days than they had for years. But ridicule is hardly the way to bring about a renaissance, and the members of the CRA were growing restless as their election came up this week.

By an 84-78 vote, CRA members at a convention over the weekend selected John W. Briscoe, of Fountain Valley, to be president, said Aaron Park, the conservative blogger and CRA official who ran Briscoe's campaign.

Park faulted Greig for "embarrassing headlines" and shrinking membership in the decades-old CRA, and he said the group "took decisive action to change course."(SacBee CapAlert)

At this point, the CRA is unlikely to ever recover what they once were in the 60s and 70s, but I think many activists in the organization would settle for a quiet anonymity for the time being. Many right-wing conservatives seem to actually believe these outlandish and scientifically unsupported statements. But they just don't want people telling reporters about them. You know, keep your dirty laundry inside and all that.

The new leader apparently shares the name John Briscoe with a Ocean View School Trustee who was creating a bit of controversy trying to display the words "In God We Trust" on schools. However, John W. Briscoe is a long time conservative activist from the OC, and apparently a well-liked member of the conservative community in Southern California.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

More PPIC: Republicans Looking Even More Dismal Than Originally Thought

by: Brian Leubitz

Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:04:24 AM PDT

GOP faces credibility and demographic issues

by Brian Leubitz

I left one set of numbers off the previous PPIC poll post, mostly because they deserved to be called out independently. Namely, this party data is deeply troubling for the future of the Republican Party:

If you are a Republican, the only thing I suppose you can hang your hat upon is that you still just as well with white voters as the Democrats do.  Except that with the growth of the minority voters, that simply isn't enough anymore. The "which party is more concerned with voters like you" question also went to the Democrats. Solid majorities of blacks (86%), Latinos (73%), and Asians (64%) choose the Democratic Party. Whites are divided (37% Republican Party, 41% Democratic Party).

And the overall 56% unfavorable rating is no way to win an election, except in the most right-wing districts. All this amounts to what we saw in the 2012 election, with Republicans falling below the 1/3 threshold for relevance.

Now, that is not to say that California voters are thrilled with the Democratic Party. In fact, some folks are looking for another option:

A majority of likely voters (59%) say the two major parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third major party is needed, while just 32 percent say the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job.

Now, I've always felt that California is ripe for a centrist party to make big gains, mostly by taking traditional Republican voters and some of the moderate Democrats. The work of getting there is an extremely high hurdle, creating a real third party in today's climate almost requires a billionaire to swoop in to fund it. And even Michael Bloomberg hasn't built up any kind of infrastructure to really grow a third party. The two-party structure is just so ingrained at this point that most of the third party talk has usually stopped at the talking.

All that being said, whether the new CRP chair Jim Brulte can do anything about these numbers is the biggest question about the CRP, but his base might really be a bigger obstacle to future growth than any individual policy or messaging point.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

CRP Convention Wrapup: Karl Rove to GOP: To Win, Pretend To Be Something Else

by: Brian Leubitz

Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 10:44:49 AM PST

2013 Spring ConventionbannerStrategist tells GOP crowd their "messaging" is wrong, not their principles

by Brian Leubitz

The California Republican Party is having its semi-annual big event this weekend. It isn't exactly notable for the impact it will have on the state, more for the attempts at introspection. The party formally inaugurates their new leader, likely long-time Ranch Cucamonga politician Jim Brulte, today. Brulte called the job "more like a bankruptcy workout"  and seeing the big numbers on their debt ledger, it is hard to argue.

But the national civil war between the grassroots of the party and some of its establishment, like Karl Rove, is in full swing here. The party is looking at a more diverse and moderate electorate than they can really appeal to. The Todd Akin controversy came roaring back onto the scene when Celeste Greig, the head of the Reagan-dubbed "conscience of the Republican Party", the California Republican Assembly, stepped in a pile of dung.  Her comments, entirely refutable if you actually read the science are really quite hard to discern from Akin's comments that she was intending to put down as poor form.

"That was an insensitive remark," Greig said. "I'm sure he regretted it. He should have come back and apologized."

She then went on, however, to agree with Akin's premise that such pregnancies are uncommon.

"Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it's an act of violence, because the body is traumatized," she added. "I don't know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don't know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act."(HuffPo)

Who knows what Greig was going for here, but facts don't seem to be the intended destination. She clearly doesn't understand how the body works, and is probably best to stay away from the topic. You would have thought somebody, having observed the Akin mess, would know not to go there. But apparently not, and Greig tread on, not exactly following Rove's instructions that came later to change the messaging.

For his part, Rove went delicately into the fray, careful to indicate that the party "shouldn't lose its principles." However, they should try to repackage them into a tidy package that makes Californians, and Americans more generally, forget about the Bush years (his doing) and the terrible rancor emerging from the House these days. Given that this is California, and Latinos are soon to become (if not already) the largest demographic group in the state, that is a lot of repackaging. But Rove says maybe it is time for a little flexibility, rather than demanding ideological purity.

"We're going to have to have a little forbearance in listening to the ideas and suggestions of other people in our party about how we modernize ourselves and get ready for the next contests in the future," Rove said, "because we don't own all the answers right now. I don't want to snuff out the next Jack Kemp by saying well, don't worry, he's not a principled person." ...

"Losing has one great benefit to it," Rove said. "It gives you the chance to start fresh to look everything anew and start rebuilding from the ground up in innovative and thoughtful ways that will expand our reach and expand our members."(Steven Harmon/BANG)

That may be true, but color me unconvinced that the CRP is really looking at ditching their litmus tests. While Tom Del Beccarro calls Prop 8 a "difficult issue" for the CRP, his party is also missing the pulse wildly on gun control and immigration and a host of other issues. The state rejected the anti-tax and anti-labor rhetoric last fall, and the CRP continues to try to go back to the same well.

While the supermajority rules should be completely eliminated, they could make a revitalized Republican Party matter in California again. But they need to change more than their messaging if they want to be really viable in this state.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

CA GOP Looking Back to the Future: Rove Edition

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:07:22 AM PST

PhotobucketRove to headline CRP convention

by Brian Leubitz

The California Republican Party (CRP) may love the old Michael J. Fox movies, but, if they are interested in returning to electoral viability, this doesn't seem quite the ticket. It seems they loved the Bush years, and his "Ohio outburst" so much, that Karl Rove will be they keynote for the CRP convention in March.

The California Republican Party is turning to GOP strategist Karl Rove, the "architect" of former President George W. Bush's political campaigns, as it works to rebuild its own brand in the Golden State.

The party has tapped Rove as the keynote speaker for its spring convention in Sacramento, which will take place the first weekend in March. He'll address members at a Saturday night banquet at the Hyatt Regency.(SacBee)

Perhaps Rove and his "unskewed" numbers are a way that the CRP thinks it can move forward. However, his politics of divisiveness have never worked here in California.  While he has been something of a moderate on immigration issues, the underlying tactics of divide and conquer do not suit California's voter patterns or demographics.

Jim Brulte, who recently announced that he is running for CRP Chair, has a lot of work in front of him if he is successful. Forgetting about the rather large debt that the CRP is already laboring under, fundraising for a party with no hands on governmental levers is a monumental task. However, a party that is completely beholden to a fringe that has been thoroughly rejected on a statewide level cannot succeed.  I have respect for Brulte as a politician, but this may even be a big ask for a magician.

And looking to Rove, and an era that never really took hold in California, doesn't seem a good path forward.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Republicans can't cover up policy failure with diversity outreach

by: Dante Atkins

Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:44:11 AM PST

Reposted from my Sunday feature at Daily Kos. Since it's mainly California content, I think it deserves a place here too.

Los Angeles conservative radio hosts
California right-wing radio shock jocks John and Ken. Diversity!

Immediately after the November election, I wrote about the overwhelming victory Democrats enjoyed in California, where Governor Brown's tax measure was passed, the union-busting Proposition 32 was soundly defeated, and Democrats claimed a supermajority in both chambers that will allow them, if they so choose, to pass budgets and submit initiatives for voter approval without a single Republican vote.

Since the time of that writing, things have gotten even worse for Republicans in the legislature, as Democrats picked up two additional seats in vote canvassing in races which their candidates were trailing on election day: Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani came back to beat her colleague Tom Berryhill for a hotly contested State Senate race to pad Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's margin. And lastly, in perhaps the shocker of elections in California, Democratic candidate Steve Fox completed a comeback on the very last day of canvassing when the Los Angeles County Registrar counted the last 1,601 votes in Assembly District 36. Fox gained 463 votes from that final update, giving him a 145-vote win in a traditionally Republican area and padding Speaker John Perez' majority to a 55-25 count in the 80-seat chamber.

Republicans have held minority status in Sacramento ever since the turn of the millennium, but it's only now that panic is really starting to set in. Because of Proposition 13 in 1978, which began California's so-called "tax revolt," it takes a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass tax increases or put referendums on the ballot; while still a minority, Republicans had always held at least one-third of one of the two chambers, which allowed them to effectively control the terms of the debate for budgetary issues and continue to extract major cuts and concessions every single election cycle. But as the extremist Republican agenda of decimating the public sector and social services continued to cripple the state, cracks started to show. During the red wave of 2010, California Democrats not only held all their seats; they actually expanded their legislative majorities. Meanwhile, team blue also swept every single statewide office that year, despite the millions of dollars that failed CEO's Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina spent trying to buy a governorship and Senate seat, respectively.

In 2012, the dam burst. A variety of factors combined to create a Democratic wave in California: nonpartisan redistricting created a series of competitive districts; the creation of online voter registration led to a surge of turnout by young and minority voters; and voters who had had enough of budget cuts began to believe in a different vision for the state. It all adds up to one reality: when the rounds of special elections are over and all the vacancies are filled, Democrats will be able to do what they want in Sacramento without a single Republican vote, provided that they can keep their caucus unified.

The shocking results are leading California Republicans to engage in the same refrain being used by their Washington counterparts. It's not the policies, they claim, but rather the message:

California Republicans in the Assembly looking to revive their party have a new team on their side.

Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway on Thursday announced a new "Diversity Outreach Team" made up of government staff members. A news release says the group will focus on "helping strengthen Republican ties with women, ethnic communities and young people."

"We know that most Californians share our common-sense ideas, but we need to do a better job communicating that message," Conway said in a statement. "To become the majority party again, we must not only talk to diverse communities but also listen and that's what our Diversity Outreach Team is all about."

It takes a special brand of chutzpah to claim that most of a state's voters agree with you when you hold no statewide offices and less than a third of the seats in both houses of that state's legislature. But it also takes a special brand of either arrogance or blindness to believe that having your party be rendered entirely irrelevant in the most populous state in the nation is simply a messaging problem that can be fixed by token figures to head up a "diversity outreach" program aimed at all the various groups of voters who simply cannot stand what you represent.

It was the unified opposition of the Republican Party, after all, that thwarted Speaker Perez' best efforts to eliminate a corporate tax break for multi-state businesses and use the money to cut the cost of higher education. Republican legislators and governors have consistently opposed efforts to make life easier for immigrants and their children. Republicans are the ones who have consistently worked to hold California's budget hostage to painful budget cuts to social services and health care programs for the poor. And no amount of "outreach" to women will help undo the damage done at the national level by Rush Limbaugh and the constant efforts to strip away reproductive rights.

It's not that California Republicans haven't done a good enough job explaining their values. Quite the opposite: They've done too good a job. As a matter of fact, they even have their own equivalent of Rush Limbaugh in the form of John and Ken, archconservative radio shock jocks who enforce discipline against any Republican even contemplating lenience on tax issues or undocumented immigrants and who make a habit of crude insults against the very groups Republicans are now appointing a diversity team to reach.

If Republicans want to know what future they have to look forward to, all they have to do is see what has happened to them in California. The only thing saving Republicans nationwide is simply that the country as a whole doesn't quite resemble the demographics of California. Yet.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Tim Donnelly Brings Crisis Front and Center to the GOP

by: Brian Leubitz

Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:14:40 AM PST

Minuteman Assemblyman looks to challenge for 2014 Governor's race

by Brian Leubitz

Tim Donnelly isn't one to shy from a fight, and clearly that's what he has in mind by announcing a bid for the 2014 Governor's gig. Now, Gov. Brown hasn't yet announced his intentions, but the speculation is that he will likely be giving it another go. Challenging Gov. Brown, even with the state's challenges, is a tall order that many prominent Republicans (read: wealthy outsiders) may not want to take on.

So, this is what is facing the California GOP. Unless the exceedingly unlikely happenstance of a Democrat challenging Brown occurs, Republicans will likely be free to have a free for all primary and still get on the general election ballot. That being said if there were any "adults" in the room of the California Republican establishment, you would expect that they would shutter at the thought of a Donnelly candidacy.

Let's just look at what the Republicans have here. Donnelly is a far right conservative, out of step with the California electorate, to be sure. But that is probably not a disqualifier with today's California Republican Party. But he really came to the public spotlight through his work with the Minutemen, the anti-immigration group. While leadership in a vigilante organization is always a bit tough to spot, clearly he was in the forefront. And the organization never was all that shy about talking about race and immigration.

So, this is where the CRP is headed. In a state that is a minority-majority state with a burgeoning Latino electorate, the first major Republican to announce an exploratory bid for the Governor's spot is...a Minuteman leader.  If Donnelly does get on the general election, it is difficult to see a path for the Republicans out of the wilderness. As Prop 187 brought Wilson to power, it also set the CRP on its course for long-term irrelevance.  That culminated this year with a legislative supermajority.

Perhaps there is a place for the Republican Party in California, but if so, they'll need to drastically review where they are headed.  The strategy and course they are on is great for a regional party, or perhaps a Southern State. But, unless they can find some way to attract a broader base, they'll keep walking the road to minor party status.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

WSJ Whines for California Republicans

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 14:30:19 PM PST

Editorial shows complete lack of understanding of past few years in Sacramento

by Brian Leubitz

The editors at the once illustrious Wall Street Journal, now having moved into new diggs next to Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly, has decided that whining worked well for Karl Rove.  Apparently so well that they thought they would give it a try:

For Republicans unhappy with Tuesday's election, we have good news-at least most of you don't live in California. Not only did Democrats there win voter approval to raise the top tax rate to 13.3%, but they also received a huge surprise-a legislative supermajority. Look out below.

The main check on Sacramento excess has been a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority of both houses to raise taxes. Although Republicans have been in the minority for four decades, they could impose a modicum of spending restraint by blocking tax increases. If Democratic leads stick in two races where ballots are still being counted, liberals will pick up enough seats to secure a supermajority. Governor Jerry Brown then will be the only chaperone for the Liberals Gone Wild video that is Sacramento. (WSJ)

First, I would like to thank the SF Chronicle's Marisa Lagos for an excellent tweet on this piece:

Now, I could spend hours debunking this on tax grounds. I could point out that the legislature, having just seen Prop 30 pass, will go nowhere near income tax rates. Or I could just merely direct them to the litany of issues where progressives are marginalized. Are you a progressive legislator? Well, hope you didn't plan on getting anywhere near the banking committee.

California was Citizens United before Citizens United was cool. It is a state controlled by independent expenditures and campaign cash. The power of these IEs now is such that neither Democrats nor Republicans really dare to break the status quo for risk of offending them.

For example, you would think in such "liberals gone wild" situation, you would have seen some sort of fracking legislation. Something, even a bit of disclosure, but no. Despite only requiring a bare majority for much of it, progressive legislation has a way of finding its way into the suspense file.

But the WSJ isn't concerned with such details. In a world where their heroes have been vanquished, they search about for talking points. And in California they think they have one.  However, they miss the facts. They miss the incredibly important point that most of the debt was run up under Republican governors. The GOP here clung to their tax cut portion of the "Two Santas" and an unrational fealty to Grover Norquist. They miss the fact that the Republicans weren't a victim of some sinister plot, they were simply a political suicide.

From the author of the California Target Book, Tony Quinn:

The good news for Republicans is that they are no longer a dying party.  The bad news is that they are dead, and the final dagger into the corpse was the huge turnout of young voters on Tuesday - the exit polls show that 18 to 29 years olds made up 28 percent of the 2012 electorate.  ...
it is time to let Howard Jarvis rest in peace and stop pretending we are still in the world of Proposition 13.  On Tuesday 85 of 106 school bond measures passed, according to the League of California Cities.  Californians clearly want more public resources; the question now is whether that money is spent wisely.  That is where the Republican and business focus should be.(Fox & Hounds, Tony Quinn)

The California GOP, like the greater national party, has lost young voters. If it hopes to return to a semblance of a statewide party, it will need to moderate itself back into a party that accurately represents some portion of California's electorate. Otherwise, I guess they can enjoy their lunches at Chops, but that is about as close to actual governance as they'll get.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Everybody Hates Tom

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 11:36:05 AM PDT

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in SacramentoCRP takes away chair's flexibility and power in a move that comes as fundraising numbers lag

by Brian Leubitz

It isn't easy being a Republican in California. That's especially true if you came in promising big change and prosperity, but ended up writing a ballot measure opposing your biggest expenditure.  And so, there's this:

With less than three months to go until the November election, the California Republican Party Board of Directors has approved a structural shake-up some insiders say is meant to limit Chairman Tom Del Beccaro's involvement in the party's strategic planning and fundraising efforts.(SacBee)

The structural changes take away his power over the 2012 election, registration, and gotv drives. They also form committees to take on what was most of the rest of Del Beccaro's bailiwick. In other words, the chair's role at the CRP has essentially been neutered by their executive committee.

Given that his biggest spending priority, gathering signatures for the senate district referendum turned into something of a disaster, and that his other fundraising numbers have been abysmal, this is not particularly surprising.  However, he does always have the dream of a prop 32 victory leading the GOP back to relevancy. (Another reason to make sure we work hard this November!)

Del Beccarro is at something of a loss at this point, without much real authority and much respect among his own party. Should be more fun times at the CRP as they try to rebuild an unpopular brand in the state.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

CA GOP Continues its Death Spiral, Seeks Help From Prop 32 Supporters

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 17:00:00 PM PDT

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in SacramentoCalifornia Republican Party faces fiscal, organizing questions. Banks on Special Exemptions.

by Brian Leubitz

The California Republican Party is in something of a desperate situation. They hold no statewide offices, and then they had a story in the New York Times titled "Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline."

That's never a good thing, especially when it is combined with a follow-up from the San Francisco Chronicle with some worrying financial numbers. Without getting deeply into the nitty, gritty, it is pretty bad. They are expected to reveal a deficit of nearly half a million dollars, and are considering closing their Sacramento office.

All of this is to say that the state party won't be much help to candidates and campaigns come November. This is not to say those campaigns won't get help, but the party structure is showing heavy strain. So, Republicans are now looking elsewhere for support and a brighter future.  In fact, they're looking to one specific spot on the ballot for their long-term future: Prop 32. (Note: I work for the No on 32 campaign)

California Republican Party Chair Tom Del Beccarro, who was elected partially on a platform of getting the CRP's fiscal house in order stated this explicitly:

"This November, Prop 32 could well pass, bring {sic} reforms to our system, including barring direct contributions from corporations and unions and paycheck protection. When that passes, California will have a more level playing field, Republicans will have a new day and be rather competitive statewide." (Newsmax)

Shorter Tom: by cutting labor off through the so-called "political reform" measure, Republicans are the big winners.

And why is that? Well, it could be that Prop 32 isn't what it seems at all. As Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and other good government groups said this week this is not real political reform at all. It leaves loopholes that Big Business can use to get their money into the system, but severely hobbles the voices of working Californians.

Perhaps that is why Prop 32 is so popular on the Republican side of the ledger, and why the Yes on 32 campaign is so close to the Republican party. In fact, Charles Munger, Jr., Chair of the Santa Clara County Republican Party, and one of the top funders of the Yes on 32 campaign (over $235K!) is now stepping in for what was once the purview of the state party:

The result, Stutzman and other Republicans say, is that other organizations and individuals are filling the void - with robust national and county-based operations like those in Tulare, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara County, where millionaire GOP activist Charles Munger is heading up fundraising, phone banking and voter contacts usually managed by the party.

Whatever the motives of the Prop 32 proponents really were, the end result is a biased and dangerous measure for everyday Californians. And if the Republican Party recognizes that Prop 32 is their best shot of pushing their agenda forward, what kind of balanced reform could it possibly be?

P.s. Feel free to sign up for the No on 32 email list, or find the campaign on twitter or facebook.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

CA GOP Waives the White Flag (On Senate Districting, Anyway)

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 15:40:43 PM PDT

Prop 40 proponents acknowledge failure, orphan measure

by Brian Leubitz

Earlier in the cycle, Senate Republicans, and the state GOP (along with a few wealthy donors) decided that putting a referendum on the ballot to reject the senate district lines would be a good use of money. Of course, Republicans (in particular Schwarzeneger)were the main supporters of the original initiative to change the redistricting process, but never mind that.

They had intended to get the courts to toss out the old maps for the 2012 election, but during the court case didn't actually provide a reason to do so. You can read more about the CASupCt's decision in my summary of the opinion, but long story short the Commission map was just the easiest and most representative map to use. It complied with the equal representation requirement, took a lot of comment about the lines from the public and generally tried to meet the goals of the initiative.

That left the GOP with a very visible problem: what to do about Prop 40? If they actively tried to win on the referendum, we would have another set of maps for 2014. With voters already confused from the once-a-decade redistricting, that hardly seemed wise politically.  Instead we got a ballot statement from the proponents of the referendum that basically said, we're sorry, this is a waste of time, nothing to see here. In short, they left Prop 40 for dead, orphaning it on the ballot.

Joe Matthews looks at the eternal question of why orphaned/zombie initiatives stay on the ballot, but I'll put in a point for keeping these measures on the ballot. Let's say some other group thought that the senate referendum was a good idea, but they saw that the CAGOP was putting it on the ballot. They would have likely abandoned their own efforts. If we allowed the proponents to take measures off the ballot, we would just allow proponents to abandon other potential supporters. There is no hard and fast reason why some other group of supporters couldn't come in and spend millions of dollars to help get the initiative passed.

IMHO, once the initiative is on the ballot, it belongs to the people. Colorado's system of requiring both the Legislature and the proponents to agree makes a bit more sense, risks remain.

So, when you get to Prop 40, remember that pretty much nobody wants to see the referendum overturn the maps. But perhaps we get some interesting information on baseline yes/no percentages for referendums?

UPDATE from the comments: DavidT reminds us to vote YES on Prop 40 to keep the maps.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

31st Congressional District: Why Progressives shouldn't support Mayor Pete Aguilar

by: William V.

Sun May 06, 2012 at 20:45:20 PM PDT

Reposted from ieprogressive.com

This is a first in series of conversations to explain why Democrats and Progressives shouldn't support Redlands Pete Aguilar to represent the 31st Congressional District. As I have researched this candidate, I have grown increasingly concerned about his position on issues, the shadiness of his dealings, and the associations he has made.

Reason: He is a Blue Dog.

As anyone who has read my posts, I despise the Blue Dog Coalition (AKA the Blue Curs) for unprincipled stands on important issues. Mr. Aguilar has shown by words and deeds that he will follow this mold by unilaterally caving before the debate has begun. In addition, he has the support of other prominent Blue Curs such as Rep. Joe Baca and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the leader of the pack. This coalition takes advantage of their safe position to enrich themselves, while playing smoke and mirrors with those they represent.

Reason: No Principles  

As a Redlands city councilman, Mr. Aguilar has had chance after chance to prove his Progressive credentials, but instead chose not to:


Aguilar said he supported the proclamation because it was supporting the concept of the living wage and not enforcing it in any way.

"If it were binding, I wouldn't have been supportive of it," Aguilar said Wednesday. -SBSun Nov. 20, 2008

This kind of attitude is inherent in the Blue Dog faction. They say good things Democrats and Progressives want to here, but when it comes time to vote, they lack the intestinal fortitude to vote with conviction.


Mr. Aguilar backed Big-Box stores and supported Measure O. Measure O would have dismantled an already existing Wal-Mart on Redlands  Blvd. leaving it to be a blighted area where vandals and vagrants can have free reign. In addition, this would have created another abandoned Wal-Mart on Highland Ave. as customers from that area overlap with the proposed Super Wal-Mart. All this for Sales-Tax Chickenfeed:

Councilman Pete Aguilar said the City Council opposes Measure O because it would inhibit the amount of sales,property and other tax coming into the city and prevent the expansion of services like police and fire, he said. -SBSun May 8, 2010

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Jerry Brown, Republicans, and Truth in Reporting

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue May 01, 2012 at 15:59:20 PM PDT

Brown appears on Face the Nation, calls GOP "reactionary"

by Brian Leubitz

Jerry Brown is not quite on par with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the national pronouncement front. However, he does like to share a view or two with the nation. As Governor of the nation's most populous state, it seems appropriate that he say a few words about what is going on in DC.  And, as anyone can see, it's a mess, and Jerry Brown is only saying what is obvious for all to see: (video here)

"I think the Republicans have to move out of that reactionary cul-de-sac that some of the more extreme members are pushing them," Brown told host Bob Schieffer.

"There's an enforcement of discipline that's ideological and, as was mentioned today in The Washington Post, takes on the quality of a cult," the California governor said.

Brown provided one example of Republican ideology, on immigration. The party largely opposes a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.

"They're so hostile to millions and millions of people in this country, and while they can't vote, they have millions and millions of people who they're related to or who identify with them. And you just can't ignore 12 million people, particularly when they're picking our food, they're working in the hotels and restaurants, and now they're increasingly in very important jobs," Brown said.

But Brown, who is 74 years old and has been in the political realm for more than 40 years, criticized the entire political system, which he calls "more polarized" than he's ever seen it.(Face The Nation)

On that note, Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann have a new book, for which they were interviewed on Morning Edition today that essentially calls out the media for trying to play "balanced" over facts. Yes both parties have issues, but one is a more clear and present danger to the long-term stability of the nation.

"One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier - ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition," they write in their new book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks.

The media rarely acknowledges this fact, but the radicals in almost every issue today, are the Republicans. On sexual freedom, it is the Republicans who want to limit access to birth control. On regulation of the banks, it is the Republicans who want to return to a reckless capitalism that has now been thoroughly discredited. And on our social safety net, the Republicans want to so decimate it that our homeless populations will continue to spike.

Good on Gov. Brown for calling them out, and as he did so, acknowledging that he isn't perfect, and that he can't simply overturn what the GOP has created with their superminority. In our system of democracy, repairing government takes time. In many ways, it is unfortunate, but you work with the government you've got, I suppose.

Over at CapAlert, find a 1979 interview with a much younger Gov. Jerry Brown. Also, Mayor Villaraigosa also appeared in the full episode video here discussing the national political environment.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Is Mitt Romney "Severely Freudian?"

by: TJ Walker

Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 13:29:31 PM PST

If you are like me, you are probably still poking your finger in your ear trying to figure out if you heard Mitt Romney correctly when he called himself  a "Severely conservative Republican." That one goes in the gaffe hall of fame for numerous reasons. Here is a new radio ad that my organization AmericanLP has going up on ABC Radio in Michigan later this week.

Who is Mitt Romney?

Voiceover from Romney 'I was a severely conservative Republican.'

Severely conservative???

The word 'severely' is most commonly used to describe the following: Disabled, depressed, ill, limited, injured.

So, Michigan conservatives, Mitt Romney basically thinks conservatism is like a 'disease.'

If you're a moderate/independent Michigan Republican, how do you feel about a politician who doesn't believe in anything, but implies, 'I'll pretend to be a diseased extremist, even if I think it's crazy?'

Mitt Romney's father, George Romney was a great Michigan governor who always spoke his mind. He stood up to his church and GOP extremists regarding civil rights.

But Mitt Romney? Has he ever stood up for something unpopular?

Mitt Romney, he's not his father's son. Mitt Romney thinks he can 'brain wash' the rest of us.

Paid for By AmericanLP, not associated with a candidate or candidate's committee.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Money Game

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 11:01:16 AM PST

Republicans once again nearly broke

by Brian Leubitz

With the news that Republican registration is falling again, perhaps it is of very little surprise that they also have very little money, especially when compared to the Democrats.  But, that is the case.

One of the standouts in terms of limited dollars: the California Republican Party. The state GOP bet big on getting the referendum against the new Senate redistricting maps qualified for the November ballot (and the signatures are still being counted); overall, the party's report shows it raised $4.2 million in 2011. But the state GOP only had $439,000 in cash left on Dec. 31, and the fate of the redistricting effort still seems somewhat in doubt.

Meantime, the redistricting referendum campaign reported (PDF) having only $620.31 in the bank on the final day of 2011 and has reported no 2012 contributions. The campaign owes $214,000 in unpaid bills.

Compare that to California Democrats, who reported raising $11 million in 2011 and still sitting on a rather impressive $9.3 million in cash as of Dec. 31. That suggests Dems are well positioned for legislative and even ballot measure efforts in 2012, while Republicans will need a major infusion of cash... and in a hurry. (CapNotes)

As John Myers points out, the Senate district map referendum, while largely funded by Mercury Insurance CEO George Joseph, has still left them with emptier campaign coffers than they had before.  While the Dems haven't spent nearly as much money, expect the Party to spend big time on the November ballot, with revenue and paycheck deception on the ballot.

At the same time, news from the June initiative front is also quite anemic.  While the anti-tobacco groups will be kicking off their campaign to raise cigarette taxes by a $1/pack to pay for cancer research today at the State Capitol, they'll be doing it without a lot of cash.  Same for the LA Labor Fed's term limits reform measure that made it on the ballot last year.  

June's election will be fierce in a few competitive legislative and Congressional seats, but don't expect any big statewide push.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Republican Registration Continues to Crater

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Jan 31, 2012 at 17:56:54 PM PST

GOP is in danger of falling below 30%

by Brian Leubitz

Party Feb 1999 January 2008 January 2012
Democratic 46.72% 42.71% 43.63%
Republican 35.27% 33.45% 30.36%
NPP 12.89% 19.38% 21.24%
For the last decade, the big winner in party registration has been no party at all. Decline to state, now known as no party preference, has boomed from just under 13% in 1999 to 21.24% in the latest numbers released by the Sec. of State's office today.  While Democratic numbers have fluctuated in the lower 40s, Republican numbers continue to creep downwards.  If the trend continues, the GOP may fall below 30% in the very near future.

It is no surprise that the GOP is rapidly losing adherents, what with the far right extreme becoming dominant within the Party of Reagan (née Lincoln). But with district maps that require Republicans to compete for the middle, the question is whether they really can do that.  These numbers certainly don't bode well for that.

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

On Holding Down The Conversational Fort, Or, Jobs, Republicans, And Hooey

by: fake consultant

Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 06:07:41 AM PST

As the next Congressional fight over payroll tax extensions and unemployment benefits and pipelines gets set up in the next few weeks for either its final chapter or to be kicked down the road a bit farther, one or the other, you're going to hear a lot from our Republican friends about how much they value work and workers; most especially, they'll tell you, they value American jobs for American workers.

After all, they'll say, creating American jobs is the most important thing of all.

But if we were to look back over just the last few months, some would tell us, we could quickly find examples of how Republicans promote ideas that don't seem to value work or workers at all, much less American jobs.

Well as it turns out, "some" seem to be right; to illustrate one of those examples we'll look back a month or two or three to a time some Republicans might wish was long, long, ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1222 words in story)

California Republican Party Content With Backwards Ideology

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 09:07:08 AM PDT

Republicans refuse attempt to moderate their platform

by Brian Leubitz

In a move that will shock few watchers of the California Republican party, conservatives blocked an effort by the Corporatists of the Republican party (including Charles T. Munger) to modernize their platform.  You know, try to hide the crazy stuff that the CRP's grassroots fervently believes, but the state has rejected over, and over (and over) again.  But, they aren't going quietly.

The proposed language, which downplayed traditional GOP positions on gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage, had come under fire from conservatives. Supporters had argued that the changes emphasized jobs and the economy and presented the party's issue stances in a way that would appeal to more voters. ... The committee instead approved an updated version of the current state GOP platform, which includes more detailed language sought by conservatives.

"The platform committee reversed the horrendous decisions of the drafting committee and restored core principles of the party platform," said Mike Spence, a leading critic of the more moderate plan. "It's proof that people that care about issues can beat money."(SacBee)

Instead of a platform that pushed on the issues where Democrats are struggling nationally, mostly the economy, the Republicans in California stick with their right-wing social conservative agenda.  Which, oh by the way, now wedges the state in favor of Democrats.

So, for now anyway, it seems the Republicans are content to try to play nice but then act stupid.  If they do lose their superminority, perhaps they can look back at their convention.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

On Running Your Own Government, Or, Why Pay The Military?

by: fake consultant

Fri Jul 29, 2011 at 06:57:29 AM PDT

I have not been talking about the insanity around the debt ceiling and debt and deficit and the efforts of Republicans to drive us all off the cliff, but I am today - and I'm going to do it by allowing you to grab ahold of this problem and see for yourself just how unbelievably bad this manufactured crisis is going to be.

You will hear a lot of conversation about the consequences from others; today, however, you are going to get the chance to be both the President and the Secretary of the Treasury, and you will get to decide for yourself exactly what bills the Federal Government should and should not pay as the cash runs out if a deal is not made by the time borrowing authority runs out.

At that point you'll be able to see what's coming for yourself - and once you do, you won't need me to tell you what ugly is going to look like.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 791 words in story)
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