Tag Archive for How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition

Proposed Changes for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014: A Compilation of Advice from Party Leaders

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:

  1. Congressman Devin Nunes
  2. State Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell
  3. State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez
  4. Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro
  5. Former California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim
  6. Former California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring
  7. Former San Diego City Councilmember and San Diego Mayoral Candidate Carl DeMaio
  8. Yolo County Supervisor and professional political consultant Matt Rexroad
  9. The general counsel for the California Republican Party Chuck Bell.
  10. www.FlashReport.org publisher Jon Fleischman

Three of the commentaries were posted on the web site for Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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:

  1. Become the party of reform (focus on fiscal responsibility)
  2. Commit to making government work again (better performance of existing programs)
  3. Move beyond “no” and offer real solutions (offer credible alternatives for governance)
  4. Become a party of inclusion (specifically address diverse groups beyond the typical older white voter base)
  5. 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:

Matt RexroadMatt Rexroad ‏@MattRexroad

When you have a public meeting about “outreach” for your group it tells everyone what’s not currently in your group.

3. Devin Nunes – Congressman from the San Joaquin Valley, Portuguese-American dairy farmer

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.

4. Jeff Gorell – member of the California State Assembly, 44th District (includes cities of Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Oxnard)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. The original purpose of the Non-working Program
  2. Who was originally supposed to have benefited from the Non-working Program
  3. The GOP’s Reformed Program
  4. Why the Reformed Program is better for the Nation
  5. How much the Reformed Program will save taxpayers, and
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

10. Jon Fleischman – publisher of www.FlashReport.org

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:

  1. Democrats get an endless fountain of campaign funds, courtesy of public employee unions.
  2. The number of taxpayers is shrinking while the number supported by government grows.
  3. California’s growing “ethnic communities” are not inclined to vote Republican.
  4. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger compromised the Republican image with his support for tax increases, more regulation, and growth of state government.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

In his November 20, 2012 Fox & Hounds article Remedies for the CA Republican Party, David Salaverry makes five recommendations:

  1. Elect a smart, capable, dedicated woman as state party chair.
  2. 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.
  3. Discourage religious conservatives from using the Republican Party as a political agent to fight against the immoral secular culture.
  4. 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.
  5. Speak to all young people about education and debt issues – don’t limit the message to the traditional stereotypical Young Republicans.

12. Kevin Dayton – President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

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:

  1. Promote a Specific Alternative Program of Governance: How Republicans Would Govern California Differently Than Democrats (this includes a specific twelve-point agenda)
  2. Establish or Cultivate a California Intellectual Policy Center (Think Tank)
  3. Expand Republican Speech – Overhaul the Use of Web and Social Media
  4. 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 LeaderSan Francisco Chronicle (blog post by Joe Garofoli) – January 9, 2013

A Grim GOP Ponders Sparse Registration, Donors’ DoubtsCapitol Weekly – December 20, 2012

A Proposed Strategic Plan for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014

Like many Republican activists, I’ve read just about every opinion piece and news article published on the web since November 6, 2012 about how the California Republican Party or the political Center-Right can become “relevant” in California.

Many of those pieces were useless or insulting, but apparently they were effective in convincing some Republican politicians that people need to give more of their money to the government in the form of taxes. (These tax increases are referred to as “investing.”)

In contrast, the most valuable piece I read was How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition. It lists ten strategies that have allowed the Democratic Alliance opposition party to build a diverse coalition of supporters and win elections without compromising Center-Right principles. The first strategy: Do not compromise basic principles; instead, show how they are relevant to all.

The commentary within California that has probably generated the most debate among Republican activists was in the November 16 Orange County RegisterBuilding ‘New’ Republican Party in California by San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who narrowly lost the race for Mayor of San Diego on November 6. Regrettably, activists seem to be more concerned about whether or not this piece indicates DeMaio is going to run for statewide office than about whether or not his proposed five-point approach is correct:

  1. Become the party of reform (focus on fiscal responsibility)
  2. Commit to making government work again (better performance of existing programs)
  3. Move beyond “no” and offer real solutions (offer credible alternatives for governance)
  4. Become a party of inclusion (specifically address diverse groups beyond the typical older white voter base)
  5. Court the next generation (adopt to new methods of communication)

I have developed my own ideas, which generally match DeMaio’s proposals and the proposals in the South Africa article.

1. Promote a Specific Alternative Program of Governance

As of November 26, 2012, the California State Assembly Republican Caucus has issued two press releases since the day after November 6 election: (1) Connie Conway was unanimously re-elected as Assembly Minority Leader on November 8; and (2) Connie Conway issued a statement on November 20 about the Israel-Hamas conflict.

This is not a promising start toward ending the era of legislative irrelevance. Many California Republicans are wondering if the party remnant in the state legislature is ever going to explain its vision for governing the state differently than the Democrats. Why is this so difficult? Is it a lack of principles, a lack of leadership, or a lack of cooperation?

Here’s a sample alternative program I developed without help from professional consultants:

How Republicans Would Govern California Differently Than Democrats

Reform the workings of the state legislature so it serves the People of California and not special interest groups

1. Put the Legislature under the same employment laws, contracting laws, and public records access laws as apply to the rest of the people of California.

2. End the disorder and lack of accountability at the Legislature by allowing the people of California to adequately review proposed laws, end the notorious “gut-and-amend” process, end vote switching after votes are closed, require legislators to be present in committee for votes to count, and alternate annual legislative sessions between budget sessions and general sessions.

3. Strictly limit the ability of special interest groups, including lobbyist employers, to give gifts to members of the Legislature.

Slow the growing debt burden on future generations

4. Require the ballot language of bond measures to indicate the current bond debt of the government entity, estimate the total debt from the proposed bond measure (including financial transaction fees and interest), and explain that selling a bond means borrowing money and paying it back with interest through tax increases.

5. Pass a Taxpayer Information Act – similar to the Social Security annual reports, annual reports would be provided by the state in early October to households, corporations, vehicle owners, and property owners indicating the total amount paid for the past five years in taxes and fees to the State of California and California local governments.

6.  Require the executive branch to report annually to the Legislature and the People of California about the state’s financial liabilities, require the executive branch to provide proposed budgets for the upcoming two fiscal years that honestly establish the amount to be collected from taxes and fees and amount to be saved by spending reductions, and ensure that revenues equal expenditures in proposed and enacted budgets.

Encourage economic growth and job creation by stopping schemes that impose excessive and unnecessary costs when doing business in California

7. Reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the pure intent of Governor Ronald Reagan by ensuring public involvement is strictly confined to legitimate environmental impacts.

8. Freeze all new regulations for six months and enact a package of reforms that allow a reasonable amount of time for regulatory compliance, properly evaluate regulatory costs to businesses and taxpayers, and end regulations that are ineffective or show an absurd disparity between costs and benefits.

9. Discourage foolish, frivolous, and harassing lawsuits by enacting a measured and reasonable “loser pays” rule for the courts.

Bring more accountability to powerful government entities with appointed boards

10. Restrict the number and power of joint powers agencies and other regional government entities to which board members are appointed.

11. Reduce the number of state boards and commissions and establish a system for greater legislative oversight of regulations enacted by these boards and commissions.

12. Set reasonable minimum standards for joint powers agencies and other regional government entities concerning meeting notices and public information on the web.

2. Establish or Cultivate a California Intellectual Policy Center (Think Tank)

At this time, the most visible and influential free market-oriented policy institute for California governance is based in Manhattan. As long as California lacks a homegrown, aggressive, relevant policy institute to develop and promote Center-Right principles and applications for the state, professional political campaign consultants will fill the vacuum and set the policy agenda for the California Republican Party.

3. Expand Republican Speech – Overhaul the Use of Web and Social Media

Why did the California Republican Party web site focus on the shortcomings of President Obama, when California was never expected to be a competitive state in the presidential election? Why is there virtually no presence of state and county Republican Party officials on Twitter? Why are many county Republican Party web sites so amateurish?

Many activists in the California Republican Party are traditionalists who are wary of the triviality and foolishness posted on the web and circulated through trendy social media. But earlier generations recoiled against radio and then television, and then they adopted to the new ways of communication.

The Republican Party of San Diego County is going in the right direction in effectively using the web and social media as a communications tool. Someone needs to establish web sites for all of the state and local Republican Party organizations, keep them updated regularly with relevant and factual state and local content, and inform the public through social media when there is fresh content. And impose a moratorium on bashing President Obama – even Republicans are tired of it.

4. Focus on Federalism: Local Government Should Serve as the Base of Opposition

The California Republican Party should encourage Republicans in local government to develop, propose, and implement standards and models of governance that provide the best quality public services to citizens at the best price for taxpayers. This will create a dramatic contrast with local governments run by Democrats that will file for bankruptcy in 2013 and 2014.

In addition, Republicans should encourage cities to seek or exercise their constitutional right to govern their own municipal affairs through a charter, thus freeing themselves from the costly mandates of the state legislature. There should be 30 proposed city charters on the June 2014 ballot for California voters to consider. Republicans in California’s current 121 charter cities should use their local governing authority in innovative and creative ways.