Tag Archives: CRP

Wouldn’t Kashkari’s world be amazing?

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.

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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.

The Drought and the Republican Party

Looking out over Prosser Creek reservoir with the Sierra snowpack in the backgroundDoes Jerry Brown Control the Skies? GOP asks if why he is hiding the water

by Brian Leubitz

Governor Brown briefly discussed the drought in his state of the state speech, but clearly there is plenty more to be said. The picture to the right is what is passing for the Sierra snowpack these days. But first let’s review what he did say in the speech:

Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can’t control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration.

Right now, it is imperative that we do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the drought. I have convened an Interagency Drought Task Force and declared a State of Emergency. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water. We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires. As the State Water Action Plan lays out, water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management must all be part of the mix. So too must be investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We also need wetlands and watershed restoration and further progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

It is a tall order.

He goes on to mention that climate change is real, and that we will be facing more variable weather, more droughts, more fires and other extreme weather. But while 2013 was the driest year on record, it is far from being the driest California has experienced. That being said, a UC-Berkeley professor, B. Lynn Ingram, believes that it might be the driest year in 500 years. But that isn’t to say that we know 2014 will be better, or that it was some sort of anomaly.

When Drake landed in California in the 16th Century, it was reportedly as dry, if not drier. But the bigger issue is that the massive 20th century development was based on an abnormally wet century. A century when our droughts were shorter and less severe than the previous millenia:

If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.(B. Lynn Ingram)

Today, that wetter climate supports over 10 million people in LA county alone, in addition to one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Yet what happens if 2013 isn’t a blip on the radar, and it is a part of the reversion to the mean? Then we would need to really critically examine our land use patterns and how we collect, store and use our water. But, instead of that critical analysis, the California GOP would rather make this a political issue. Us versus them; agriculture vs environmentalists.

But even if you wanted an us versus them, it isn’t clear that you can stop at just agriculture and protection of endangered species. But, that’s what the GOP is going with. It sounds good enough to draw the most senior Republican in the nation, Speaker John Boehner:

“When you come to a place like California, and you come from my part of the world, you just shake your head and wonder what kinds of nonsense does the bureaucracy do out here?” (Speaker Boehner) said, referring to the long-running diversion of millions of gallons from farms to the habitats of endangered fish.

“How you can favor fish over people is something that people from my part of the world never understand,” he said.(LA Times / Evan Halper)

Nevermind that Ohio deals with issues of endangered species all the time, but the bigger myth is that this is simply an issue of the smelt vs farmers. It is far bigger than that. You have the issues between Delta farmers, who are quite productive themselves, and farmers in the Central Valley, especially the drier southern part of the Valley around Bakersfield. The fish being considered are not just the endangered tiny smelt, but also the salmon runs in Northern California that could be totally eliminated if enough water isn’t granted to the rivers. Once the runs dwindle, it is remarkably difficult to bring them back, even with substantial hatchery programs. And those fish, yeah, they represent jobs to thousands of fishermen.

At any rate, it is hard to argue that Jerry Brown has been some sort of impediment to getting water to the Central Valley farmers. In fact, during the last huge drought, then Gov. Jerry Brown tried to get a peripheral canal built. That was ultimately defeated by referendum in 1982. Had it passed it would have brought massive change to the Delta and a lot of questions of sustainability.  The BDCP includes two tunnels around the Delta that would divert fresh water around the Delta. Now, the technology has clearly improved over the past 30 years, but questions about the long-term viability of the tunnels still abound.  The junior water users, especially the Westlands Water District in the southern Valley, desperately want change, any change, to move them up the ladder. But will there be enough snowpack in the Sierras to divert all that water to Southern California?

The other major question is storage. In an age when snowpack can no longer be trusted to store our water from February-June, do we need to build a bunch of more reservoirs? Well, again, where does that water come from if we have neither rain nor snow? But even with that question, does storage really change the fundamental questions, or just delay the inevitable? With agriculture accounting for about 80% of water usage, how do we decrease usage without decimating our crop yields? No matter how much we spend on water projects, we will need to get more out of the water we do have no matter what.

Or maybe we will get a lot of rain this week when the high pressure ridge breaks down, and we can go back to pretending that there is tons of water laying around. But in the end, it is hard to imagine that blaming Democrats for a lack of rain will bring Republicans out of their political drought of their own making.  

Demographic Doom for California Republicans

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.

Registration Numbers: GOP Continues to Dwindle

Feb. 10,2011 Feb. 10,2013
Political Party # Registered % of Total # Registered % of Total
American Independent 417,567 2.43 % 476,157 2.64 %
Americans Elect N/A  N/A 3,417 0.02 %
Democratic 7,569,581  44.04 % 7,932,373   43.93 %
Green 113,118 0.66 % 112,973 0.63 %
Libertarian 92,246 0.54 % 109,636 0.61 %
Peace and Freedom 58,470 0.34 % 61,612 0.34 %
Republican 5,307,411  30.88 % 5,225,675   28.94 %
No Party Preference 3,507,119   20.41 % 3,766,457   20.86 %
Miscellaneous 121,019 0.70 % 367,483 2.04 %
TOTAL  17,186,531 100 % 18,055,783 100 %
GOP drops nearly 2 percentage points in two years.

by Brian Leubitz

The Secretary of State’s office has released their off-year registration report, and the numbers are not good for the Republicans. Well, to be honest, most political parties don’t do well in these numbers you can check out to the right. While the bigger jump, percentage-wise, in voters declining to state their party came in the middle part of the last decade, those trends continue into this decade as well. DTS continues upward, as does the famous “Miscellaneous.”

More than a fifth of all registered voters, or 20.9 percent, declined to state a preference with any political party, reflecting a steady increase in the number of decline-to-state voters in recent years, or about 259,000 more during the past two years. In 2005, decline-to-state registration totaled 17.9 percent. (CapWeekly)

But for the GOP, the news that they have fallen below 30% can’t be anything but discordant music to the ears of new CRP Chair Jim Brulte. It only serves to put an emphasis on how far the GOP has fallen, and the big changes they’ll need to make in the state to return to relevance. Now, that is not to say that is an impossible task. Perhaps the top-2 primary system can result in a revitalized moderate wing of the California Republican Party, a wing that has been quite moribund in recent history.

In other news from the report, over a million people used the new registration website to register before the last election. That helped boost the total registration to 75.68% of all eligible voters, the highest such percentage in the past ten years or so. And with a little more time, perhaps we can hope for even higher numbers. As we make registering to vote easier, and the actual process of voting less time-consuming, let’s hope we can bring that number much higher. The more Californians vote, and express the will of the people, the better our democracy becomes.

As Brulte Eyes Local Races, Burton Pledges to Continue Support for Down Ballot Races

Will continue to foster development of so-called “farm team”

by Brian Leubitz

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Democratic Party is doing pretty well in the Legislature and our Congressional delegation.  However, the new CRP chair, Jim Brulte, is looking to start small, as you can hear in the video to the right if you care to wade through some shaky camera work and uninspiring Republican anecdotes.

John Burton, who is running for re-election to CDP chair and who worked relatively effectively with Brulte during their Leadership days in the State Senate, says that he doesn’t plan on ceding any ground:

“They’ve got to start at the bottom because they can’t elect anybody at the top,” Burton told Calbuzz. “They have to carry the burden of those fucking idiots in Washington . . . On the big picture, they’re pissing against the wind. … {but} We’re not going to abandon local races to the Republicans.” (CalBuzz)

Burton pointed to the election of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but there are many more examples of Democrats moving into nonpartisan offices, even in Republican areas. Brulte, if he is to have a modicum of success, must make big gains in that area. But it requires a lot of infrastructure that is really not present for the Republicans in California, infrastructure that Burton has helped to make possible for Democrats.

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

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.

Jim Brulte has a lot of work to do

Former California Assembly & Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte at Modern Direct DemocracyIncoming CRP leader needs to raise a lot of cash

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?

CA GOP Looking Back to the Future: Rove Edition

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.

Tim Donnelly Brings Crisis Front and Center to the GOP

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.

Everybody Hates Tom

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.