UPDATE (January 15, 2013): My post Jim Brulte’s Three Objectives as California Republican Party Chairman: Start a Party Fundraising Program, Encourage Local Grassroots Activism, Recruit Candidates Who Reflect the People of California
UPDATE (January 12, 2013): While prospective California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte has not published any commentaries on the web about his plans, an article in the January 12, 2013 San Diego Union-Tribune (GOP Leader to Lay Out Agenda) reports a few priorities:
Brulte told the U-T the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, starting with wiping out a roughly $500,000 debt. He also bemoaned the fact the state party has only three full-time employees, all of whom work from their homes.
“We also have great ground operations in some areas, but there’s other places that we don’t, so we have also have to rebuild that,” he said. “And we’ll also have to redouble our efforts at recruiting candidates at the local level and training them so they have the best possible chance.”
I realized in the last week of December that California Republicans lacked a centralized web site that compiled and summarized the advice coming from party leaders about how to reverse the increasing irrelevance and ineffectiveness of the California Republican Party.
My Collection of Commentaries
As of January 14, 2013, I have found these useful commentaries on the web:
- Congressman Devin Nunes
- State Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell
- State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez
- Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro
- Former California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim
- Former California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring
- Former San Diego City Councilmember and San Diego Mayoral Candidate Carl DeMaio
- Yolo County Supervisor and professional political consultant Matt Rexroad
- The general counsel for the California Republican Party Chuck Bell.
- www.FlashReport.org publisher Jon Fleischman
I was unable to locate comprehensive recommendations from Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, or Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff. I’ll add these commentaries if and when they are published.
A grassroots activist in the San Francisco Bay Area named David Salaverry has written about the California Republican Party for the Fox & Hounds web site and for www.FlashReport.org. He formed a group in 2011 called the California Conservative Action Group. I don’t know Mr. Salaverry or his organization (no web sites, no Twitter accounts), but his commentaries get responses from readers, so I’ve included his recommendations below.
I would like to add commentaries from other informed and influential people – please alert me to them by using the contact form on the Labor Issues Solutions, LLC web site.
As this is my web site, I include a summary of my own recommendations at the end of this list.
Overthrowing or Supplanting the California Republican Party
Obviously some people on the Right identify party “insiders” as the source of the problem. They point out correctly that politicians and party officials sometimes yield to the temptation to pursue and maintain wealth, fame, position, power, and pleasure at the expense of principles. These party leaders sometimes compromise to make a deal, sometimes show inconsistency in their positions, and have only been mildly effective as an impediment to increased government power.
I’ll be pleased to post specific, useful perspectives from any person or party that is able to transcend the nature of humanity and be pure, yet effective, within the American system of governance. Especially useful would be perspectives from people who have actually served in elected office and experienced the consequences of holding fast to those principles.
In the meantime, I’m assuming that everyone cited below generally wants to see the Republican Party protect individual liberty and free markets and serve as a check and balance against the 150-year incremental advance of “progressivism” (democratic socialism).
ADVICE TO THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY
1. Carl DeMaio: former think tank director and San Diego City Councilmember who narrowly lost the November 2012 race for Mayor of San Diego despite a horrible election night for California Republicans.
The November 16, 2012 Orange County Register published DeMaio’s opinion piece Building ‘New’ Republican Party in California. He proposed a five-point strategy:
- Become the party of reform (focus on fiscal responsibility)
- Commit to making government work again (better performance of existing programs)
- Move beyond “no” and offer real solutions (offer credible alternatives for governance)
- Become a party of inclusion (specifically address diverse groups beyond the typical older white voter base)
- Court the next generation (adopt to new methods of communication)
2. Matt Rexroad: Yolo County Supervisor and professional political consultant.
The December 27, 2012 Sacramento Bee published Rexroad’s opinion piece Reform GOP by Showing It Cares about People. He focuses on three ideas: acknowledging the attraction but rejecting the viability of pure libertarian philosophy, finding qualified candidates to speak on issues, and focusing on the causes and solutions to poverty from a distinctive Republican approach.
Rexroad does not see the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative for Californians interested in issues of individual liberty and freedom, because modern society wants a government that provides some security and protection from disasters, epidemics, and monopolies in commerce. He suggests the Republican Party recruit people who are “capable of actual governance” to present a fact-based, experience-based, broadly-appealing dissenting view to the Democratic Party’s idea of government. These “qualified representatives” would be ready to lead the state when voters are finally ready for an alternative kind of governance.
Rexroad cites Jack Kemp’s focus on the causes of poverty as a model for California Republicans to consider. Republicans can propose strategies to reduce poverty based on self-sufficiency, personal responsibility and government efficiency, as opposed to the Democrat strategies that tend to be based on government dependency. Such an approach would “give Republicans the opportunity to break the stereotype that they are only for the rich.” It would also transcend “any specific language group, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation or gender…It is just about people, and all people deserve more than they are currently getting from their government.”
UPDATE: On January 18, Rexroad sent this tweet, apparently in response to the national story GOP Pledges Outreach to Minorities, Women:
When you have a public meeting about “outreach” for your group it tells everyone what’s not currently in your group.
Nunes had his recommendations in A Reform Agenda, a Path Forward for California Republicans, posted on the web on December 6, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Nunes contends that the California Republican Party (and to some extent the national Republican Party) has failed to effectively communicate a principled, yet specific “path to prosperity” focused on individual liberty. This creates a vacuum that allows influential opponents of the Republican Party to portray Republicans in negative terms while ignoring the shortcomings of the Democratic Party (such as its failure to advance immigration reform). Nunes also notes two practical problems for Republicans: the ability of public employee unions to spend huge amounts of money on politics, and the willingness of the American people to support government programs and payments without considering the cost.
Here is Nunes’ suggested message for Republicans:
Republicans believe in the supremacy of individuals, their families, and their local communities – not the government. The government should not be revered, nor should it be expected to guarantee our happiness – it is a necessary evil that should exert authority over limited realms, especially national defense and international trade, as specified in the Constitution. Republicans oppose the centralization of power. Instead, Republicans support a republic in which power is devolved to the most local level possible. To the greatest extent, federal officials should allow states to conduct their own affairs, while both state and federal leaders should allow counties, cities, school boards, and town councils to run their own communities as they see fit.
Local control and fiscal responsibility are necessary to avoid ruinous debt on future generations. This debt is immoral and will devastate “family values.”
Nunes also sees that technological change requires the Republican Party to turn away from TV and radio advertising as the focus of its campaigns and develop localized grassroots structures. (This will not be well-received by professional consultants who make commissions off media advertising.)
Finally, Nunes lists some specific issues for California Republicans to pursue on the federal and state levels.
The January 6, 2012 Sacramento Bee published Gorell’s opinion piece GOP Still Relevant to California’s Fiscal Future. Gorell writes that Republicans in the California State Legislature can play an important role in making sure that taxpayer money (including the new Proposition 30 tax increases) are spent (1) as voters intended; (2) efficiently; and (3) effectively. He points out that Democrats are proposing many additional tax increases, and therefore Republicans “must ensure that families, students and small businesses understand and appreciate the real-world impacts of Sacramento’s tax ideas.” He wants Republicans to promote a “rainy-day fund” if budget surpluses develop, so that Democrats won’t simply increase the size of government. And he encourages Republicans to look for opportunities to work with Governor Jerry Brown and moderate Democrats in the legislature.
5. Rocky Chavez – newly elected Assemblyman, former Oceanside City Council member
In his January 11, 2013 op-ed Reaching Out to Latino Voters through Education in La Prensa San Diego, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez expresses his concern about polling that indicates Latino voters feel that “Republicans do not respect or value the needs and interests of the Hispanic community.”
Chavez asserts that “education reform is the best way for the Republican Party to reach out to California’s Latino community.” From his experience in education, Chavez sees that “Latino parents want their children to have access to good schools and quality teachers. They believe they should be able to choose where their children attend school, and they believe no one should be stuck in a low performing school just because of where they live…Latino families felt that transfers between school districts should be easier to obtain, and there should be greater access to public charter schools.” Chavez claims that “instead of actively campaigning on these issues, the Republican Party tends to avoid them,” even though the Republican Party has an ideological and historical foundation of educational choice and individual opportunities.
6. Ron Nehring – chairman of the California Republican Party from 2007 to 2010, chairman of the San Diego County Republican Party from 2001 to 2007, and a former board member of the Grossmont Union High School District.
In his November 8, 2012 blog post Four Areas For GOP Growth: Latinos, Organization, Training, Preparation, Nehring makes the following observations:
- Republicans need to better understand and discuss conditions in the home countries of immigrants. They need to support policies that can help improve conditions there, such as trade and fighting drugs. Immigrant groups aren’t fooled by trite and boring “outreach” programs with no substance.
- Republicans need to provide better training for their candidates in order to avoid destructive gaffes. (I’m guessing Nehring would recommend The Leadership Institute for training. So would I.)
- Republicans need to constantly maintain basic, data-oriented local campaign infrastructure and continually raise and spend money, instead of raising and spending big bursts of money just before elections and then throwing valuable campaign data into the trash.
- Republicans need to engage in direct voter contact instead of relying on phone banks.
7. Tom Del Beccaro – outgoing chairman of the California Republican Party (2010-2013)
Not running for re-election as party chairman, Tom Del Beccaro has proposed a couple of specific tactics since the November 6, 2012 election. In his December 10, 2012 Forbes magazine blog post California Republicans Need To Cooperate With Latinos On Border Issues, Del Beccaro writes that Latinos see the Republican Party as defined by immigration positions. He suggests “actually sitting down with Latino leaders in America, listening to their concerns and working out a solution to the issue” of “border violence,” that is, a solution that meets Latino’s (sic) concerns for safety and the Nation’s concerns for border security.” He also suggests the following tactic in a November 28, 2012 Forbes magazine blog post Forget the Whining, Here’s a Plan for Republicans to Seize the Agenda:
Congressional Republicans should pick out significant government programs that are not working…Then they should lay out specific cost savings from those failed programs. For the next two years, the Republicans should hold a monthly press conference on the Capitol steps wherein they explain:
- The original purpose of the Non-working Program
- Who was originally supposed to have benefited from the Non-working Program
- The GOP’s Reformed Program
- Why the Reformed Program is better for the Nation
- How much the Reformed Program will save taxpayers, and
- How many teachers per year could be saved if Democrats would join Republicans in saving taxpayers this money
Republicans should then dare the President and Senate Democrats to reject these savings. Republicans should keep the pressure on the Democrats through the alternative Media including websites and social networking where younger voters live.
8. George “Duf” Sundheim – former chairman of the California Republican Party (2003-2007)
Sundheim had his recommendations in Looking For New Ways To Lead, Under A Bolder GOP Banner, posted on the web on December 4, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Sundheim sees opportunities for the California Republican Party because of voters’ widespread dissatisfaction with education and debt. He recommends broadening the Republican message beyond the traditional nuclear family. He asserts that Republicans have a compelling message for Latinos concerning education (charter school alternatives) and family-owned small business, but it instead focuses on an aggressive, harsh message against Latino illegal immigrants. He also asserts that younger voters are not that interested in criticizing homosexuals and illegal immigrants – they care more about the skyrocketing cost of education and the debt burden that governments are accumulating to be paid off by future generations.
9. Chuck Bell – longtime counsel to the California Republican Party.
Bell had his recommendations in Prescriptions for California Republicans, posted on the web on December 3, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Here are his recommendations:
- Politically Savvy Leadership: Republicans need to pick a respected and politically savvy leader who brings credibility to the state party, so that significant Republican donors and business interests will provide funding for party operations.
- New Technologies to Revitalize the Base: To develop a more-effective turnout operation, the state GOP needs to engage its younger, tech-savvy generation to help build effective political networking through social media and the internet and “help train its elders how to use these tools effectively.”
- Bring the Message to Republican Voters in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area: These voters never hear the state and local message of Republicans anymore (as there are virtually no Republican elected officials in Congress or in the state legislature from these areas). The State GOP needs to team up with local GOP groups (such as the Los Angeles Lincoln Club and the Lincoln Club of Northern California) to focus on electing promising Republicans to local non-partisan offices and supporting ballot measures such as San Jose’s successful June 2012 pension reform measure.
- Thinking Strategically, More Nimbly: Two bad strategic decisions may have been most responsible for the crushing defeat of California Republicans at the polls in November: not taking advantage of the voters’ May 2009 rejection of tax increases to make a deal, and allowing Proposition 32 on the November 2012 ballot.
- Engaging with California’s Latino and Asian Communities: Use the Republican group Grow Elect as a model to help elect Latino Republicans to non-partisan local offices. Focus on education reforms important to Latinos. Adopt the immigration reforms supported by some Texas Republicans: temporary, renewable visas to expand the H-1B program for foreigners to fill high tech job openings and for agricultural workers and immigrants in other fields where there is a certified need for workers. Encourage a path to citizenship with the DREAM Act and for foreign nationals who serve in the military.
On January 8, 2013, Jon Fleischman posted his commentary Jim Brulte for Chairman of the California Republican Party on his www.FlashReport.org web site. Fleischman writes that Brulte, a former Republican leader of the California State Assembly and Senate, is a “solid conservative,” a “stalwart Republican” and has “conservative credentials” – including a voting record – on positions concerning “taxation and regulation, freedom and liberty, the sanctity of human life, or the importance of the traditional family.” Fleischman notes that Brulte has a “track record as a smart politico with a knack for winning elections,” and that Brulte does not believe “Republicans are losing market-share in California because of these policy positions, but rather how we communicate our positions, and of course how we engage in the science of politics.” Fleischman also vouches (from personal experience) for Brulte’s character.
Fleischman also lists some of the challenges for the California Republican Party:
- Democrats get an endless fountain of campaign funds, courtesy of public employee unions.
- The number of taxpayers is shrinking while the number supported by government grows.
- California’s growing “ethnic communities” are not inclined to vote Republican.
- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger compromised the Republican image with his support for tax increases, more regulation, and growth of state government.
- The California Republican Party has been dysfunctional for many years, with internal problems related to divergent interests of chairmen and distrust between major donors and grassroots activist leaders.
- While “Vast sums of money” have flowed through the California Republican Party for the purposes of trying to win elections, that money has not been used to build a permanent campaign structure (as developed by the Democrats, unions, and the Obama presidential campaign).
Editor’s note: One of the comments posted in response was from a committed Republican activist who asks “Is he a Conservative or Left-leaning R? I will only support Conservative R’s because the LL R’s have thrown Conservatives under the bus for the last time.” It’s great to be passionate, but the Facebook work identification for the poster is “Stop Compromising and Start Impeaching!” Will public proclamations from Republican activists to impeach President Obama restore the credibility of the California Republican Party among ordinary voters?
11. David Salaverry – grassroots activist from Berkeley and a small business owner (cabinetry); redistricting activist; founder of California Conservative Action Group.
- Elect a smart, capable, dedicated woman as state party chair.
- Make the party more appealing for Latinos by distancing itself from strong critics of illegal immigration, develop a conservative Hispanic talk radio, and get Latino Republicans elected to local office. Salaverry expands on these ideas in his January 9, 2013 www.FlashReport.org op-ed The CRP and Latinos, A General Staff Proposal.
- Discourage religious conservatives from using the Republican Party as a political agent to fight against the immoral secular culture.
- Turn away from policies focused on imprisonment of non-violent offenders, and try to reform unfairness in the judicial system that work against the poor and minorities.
- Speak to all young people about education and debt issues – don’t limit the message to the traditional stereotypical Young Republicans.
On November 26, 2012, I posted A Proposed Strategic Plan for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014. In addition to recommending How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition, I classified my ideas into four categories:
- Promote a Specific Alternative Program of Governance: How Republicans Would Govern California Differently Than Democrats (this includes a specific twelve-point agenda)
- Establish or Cultivate a California Intellectual Policy Center (Think Tank)
- Expand Republican Speech – Overhaul the Use of Web and Social Media
- Focus on Federalism: Local Government Should Serve as the Base of Opposition
[Additional commentaries to be added here!]
Other Recent News Articles on California Republican Party Travails, Hopes, and Plans
Jim Brulte’s Path Now Clear to be California Republican Party Leader – San Francisco Chronicle (blog post by Joe Garofoli) – January 9, 2013
A Grim GOP Ponders Sparse Registration, Donors’ Doubts – Capitol Weekly – December 20, 2012