Republican foot soldiers urge back to basics

Travis Allen addresses delegates at the GOP state convention in Sacramento on Feb. 23. (Photo: Steve Yeater/Associated Press)

If the Republican Party wants to make a comeback in California, it’s going to have to stand up against voter fraud and stick to its principles, according to an unscientific sampling of party stalwarts, many of them angry, at the weekend’s GOP state convention in Sacramento.

“We are really screwed because of voter fraud,” said Brian from Rohnert Park. “It’s hard to say the Democrats got in there legally.”

Besides that, he said, the news media don’t report facts, just biased opinion. He and two friends were not official delegates to the convention, but were visiting the event while in the capital.

GOP registration has slipped to 24%, below “no party preference,” which is at 27.5 percent.

Angela, from Sonoma County, said she was a former Democrat who “walked away from the Democratic Party.” She said she is “disheartened by California,” and plans to move to Alaska.

Another friend, Terry, from Stanislaus County, said intimidation and voter fraud were the reasons for Democrats’ success. Republicans were more attuned to American ideals, he argued.

“The Republican message is the American message,” he said.

The challenge facing California Republicans is real.

Their registration in the state has slipped to 24%, below “no party preference,” which is at 27.5%. They hold no statewide elected office. Democrats hold super-majorities in both houses of the state Legislature while Republicans hold just seven of California’s 53 members of Congress. Both U. S. senators from California are Democrats.

“The only way you can survive as a Republican in San Francisco is to be an idealist.” — John Dennis

Tehama delegate Mike Holtsclaw, a helicopter pilot, had his own prescription for a GOP comeback.

“What we need to do is quit being addicted to outrage,” he said. “You cannot attract the people you need to attract  by being offended all the time. We need to be more inclusive. Everyone always bemoans how terrible things are for the Republican Party. If we want to be resurgent, we have to be the party of reason. We have to be the party that pays attention to peoples’ concerns.”

He said Donald Trump’s tweets “sometimes just infuriate me, but I can’t complain about his results.”

Holtsclaw doesn’t think much of single-payer health care, being touted in some Democratic circles.

“I can’t wait until the morning after Gavin Newsom signs single-payer He won’t be able to make payroll,” he said.

What about the Trump factor in blue-state California?

“He’s not useful if you want to grow the Party,” said Bill Shireman, a delegate from San Francisco. But despite misgivings over Trump right now, Shireman added, “his stature as an asset will grow over time.

Trump’s “tweets drive liberals into crazy land. I’m tired of politics as usual.” — Janice Collins

“Here’s the challenge,” Shireman continued. “The base loves Trump.  But there’s an invisible base out there that the party needs to capture.”

“I think we have to focus on principles and issues —  free markets, better schools that are now dominated by unions – things that 70 percent of Californians can agree on,” he said.

The idea that Donald Trump is unpopular in California is wrong, says Janice Collins, chairwoman of the Nevada County Tea Party.

“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him,” she told Capitol Weekly.  “He says what he thinks. His tweets drive liberals into crazy land. I’m tired of politics as usual.”

John Dennis of San Francisco, who ran against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unsuccessfully three times, noted, “The only way you can survive as a Republican in San Francisco is to be an idealist.”

Dennis believes Trump will have no problem winning reelection in 2020 because he will retain his hold on Rust Belt states he won in 2016.  Dennis also believes Gov. Gavin Newsom is positioning himself for a presidential run in 2024.

Barbara Clingwald of Carpenteria and her husband Bill supported former Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen for the party chairmanship because, in her words, “He’s not part of the swamp.”

Delegates, however, thought differently: They elected Jessica Millan Patterson of Ventura as the new state party chair, with 54.6 percent of the vote. Allen received  30.7 percent and longtime party activist Steve Frank came in third with 14.7 percent.

Patterson replaces Jim Brulte, the former GOP leader of both houses of the Legislature and veteran state party chief.

Edward Veek of San Luis Obispo, a member of the Tea Party, thinks California Republicans need new leadership.

“We’ve lost four million voters in the past four to six years,” he said. “There’s too many  Republicans in the old core.”


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