by Brian Leubitz
The California Republican Party (CRP) is in a cash deficit, that much is clear. How much exactly would take a lot more digging, and perhaps a psychic connection to some of their vendors. And apparently ESP is not one of former Sen. Jim Brulte’s skills.
Brulte, who is uncontested in his bid for the CRP chairmanship, estimated that the debt might be the better part of a million dollars:
The former GOP Senate leader, who is expected to take helm of the embattled party next month, said Wednesday that the CRP is between $500,000 and $800,000 in the red, a figure he says could vary based on the potential for legal battles with former vendors.
“This is more like a bankruptcy workout,” Brulte said of setting up party infrastructure as chairman. “First of all you have to pay off your debt, hopefully while you’re doing programs simultaneously. We have to increase our income and reduce our expenses, that’s just prudent.”
The irony of the party that touts itself as “fiscally conservative” in a fiscal mess is, well, funny. But the problem for Brulte is really far deeper than some cash.
But, starting with the cash, how exactly is he supposed to raise it? The party is basically irrelevant, Democrats have or will have supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, and all of the state constitutional offices. Brulte will have to get contributions despite all of that. On the other hand, if you look at the efforts to restore the financial situation of the CDP in 2009, they had a strong wind at their backs. Brulte has none of that.
Brulte is also facing the big schism in the GOP, that is, the party is tearing itself up over “electability.” The grassroots right-wing base has been creating havoc, nominating characters like Todd Akin. Top-2 somewhat distorts that here, but there is still much of that grassroots vs establishment angst in the CRP here. That Karl Rove, who is currently launching a war against the most unelectable of the extremists, is the featured speaker of the upcoming convention does not help that point.
Brulte faces an enormous task: make the CRP relevant again. One wonders if even the biggest legends of the CRP could take that on. Maybe a multi-headed monster of Hiram Johnson (yes, he was a Republican), Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger?