California Republican Party chooses new communications director

Patrick Dorinson, a former fundraiser in Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and former member of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, has been selected as the new communications director of the California Republican Party.

There was no official confirmation from the party, which will hold its statewide convention this weekend in San Jose. Capitol sources said the decision to tap Dorinson, a Republican who served as the chief spokesman of the state’s electricity grid during California’s energy crisis, was reached several days ago. The party’s official announcement was expected as early as Tuesday, but Dorinson confirmed his hiring today.

Dorinson, 54, currently a vice president with the Hill and Knowlton marketing and communications company, replaces Karen Hanretty, who recently left to open her own political strategy and public relations firm in Sacramento.

Dorinson’s hiring comes at a turbulent time for state Republicans, who are divided over recent policies and appointments of the Republican governor. Schwarzenegger’s decision to hire Susan Kennedy, a Democrat who served as a top figure in former Gov. Gray Davis’ administration, and his proposal to borrow tens of billions of dollars to pay for an array of state capital improvements, are among a number of actions that have roiled Republicans.

Apparently, Dorinson’s hiring was not vetted by the White House or Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“Yes, 2006 is a pivotal election for California, but I want to look beyond that to build a solid Republican foundation, to build toward a Republican majority in the Legislature,” Dorinson told Capitol Weekly.

Dorinson at Capitol Weekly’s request also provided a commentary for this week’s print edition of Capitol Weekly, in which he described his political odyssey from Democrat to Republican. A version of the commentary was posted online today on Capitol Weekly’s web site,

A Democrat until 1997, Dorinson bolted the party after a series of personal and philosophical disagreements. “What I observed in Washington was a Congressional Democratic Party that had ossified into an oligarchy of powerful committee chairmen who, after 40 years in power, ran the Congress as their own private domain,” he wrote.

“For someone who as a 12 year old in 1964 had a Barry Goldwater bumper sticker on his school binder, it feels like I have come home,” Dorinson added.

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