What Needs to Change for California Republicans to Survive

CA GOPThe shellacking California Republicans received on November 6 can certainly be attributed to a variety of factors unrelated to the party’s messaging or political infrastructure. Obviously, the enormous demographic changes that have occurred in the Golden State over the last several decades played an important part in seeing GOP representation in the Assembly, for example, slashed by one-half since the halcyon days of 1994 when the party briefly seized control of the lower house of the Legislature. As uncontrolled immigration takes its toll and older, conservative white voters flee the state, a party wedded to those voters will ultimately pay the price of inexorable electoral decline. The massive liberalization of voting rules to even include Election Day “ballot harvesting” also played a part as the Democrats’  formidable union-paid GOTV machine can now overcome Republican leads on Election Night through “late” votes that continue to be counted weeks beyond the day and hour when the polls actually close.

There probably is little that can be done to reverse the demographic transformation of California. Even if a Border Wall is eventually built, the horse has already left the stable and the ironclad Democrat hyper-majority in Sacramento will ensure that its ready supply of Democrat voters-in-waiting across the border will receive their voter registration forms the moment they set foot (legally or illegally) on U.S. soil. And, taxpayer-paid health care, housing and education awaits the party’s new charges as they arrive in the once-Golden State. While Republicans can probably count on as much as 30% of the Latino vote in elections, it is highly questionable how high that number can rise unless the GOP simply abandons its core political principles and moves left to outflank the Democrats in offering more free goodies to the immigrant caravans. Trying to reform the “loosey-goosey” election laws Speaker Paul Ryan referred to is out of the question as Republican numbers in the new Legislature are more appropriate to caucusing in a telephone booth than enacting policy.

So, where does the California Republican Party go now? I have heard various ideas, from blowing up the entire party and starting over to organizing a new political party entirely. These are radical, impractical solutions.

What should happen is to examine the avenues of opportunities that still exist in the state that are somewhat independent of the iron hand of the Democrat Party’s autocratic control as well as addressing the amazingly weak CRP strategy at the grassroots level. In short, a return to Hiram Johnson-style popular democracy and a new focus on city and county political organizing.

With the Legislature and statewide offices out of reach for the foreseeable future, the CRP needs to refocus on initiative, referenda and recall as the way to short-circuit the Democrats in Sacramento and enact positive public policy. This is what Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann did with Proposition 13 in 1978. This route was used repeatedly throughout the 1980s and 1990s to enact tax and spending limits and criminal justice reforms (“Three Strikes,” etc.). And, despite the shrinking pool of reliably red voters, Proposition 6 would have likely passed this year had it not been for Xavier Beccera’s deliberately deceptive ballot language.

The CRP needs to invest resources in a program of initiative qualification and enactment, including legal counsel, signature-gathering campaigns and successful fundraising. A range of popular issues that could be conceivably passed at the ballot box even in a deeply-blue state should be identified and vetted by the campaign attorneys. In addition to circumventing legislative Democrats, such a strategy could stimulate voter enthusiasm and turnout for our candidates, recruit volunteers, and, at a minimum, advance a serious policy agenda that is sorely lacking. Recall of elected officials should also be on the table, as it is a tool that the CRP has often used successfully in recent decades (most recently with state Sen. Josh Newman). Blanket the state with popular initiatives with cross-party appeal and go after legislators who have clearly gone off the deep end.

Even more critical is to return to the grassroots, the cities and counties. Have you ever looked at a political map of California? Is it all blue? Hardly. It is actually mostly red. Most California counties voted for Donald Trump and John Cox. The problem is these are the small, inland, sparsely-populated rural counties. The population-heavy San Francisco, Santa Clara and Los Angeles regions are, of course, overwhelmingly Democrat. The question arises: Why are we not doing a better job harnessing the strengths we do have at the local level to develop candidates and even promote ballot measures at the city and county level?

Actually, Republicans have done a reasonably good job in recent years at capturing local offices, such as school boards, city councils, mayors and county supervisors. In the past, we largely ignored these offices and allowed the opposition to build its “farm team.” The beauty of these local offices is that they are officially non-partisan, permitting Republican candidates to downplay their party affiliation and laser in on important city- and county-specific issues that often lack any firm partisan boundaries (development and growth issues, for example).

While Republicans have had some success at the down-ballot level, they have failed miserably at using those offices and officeholders to build any kind of effective or long-lasting local political infrastructure. The GOP central committees are largely irrelevant in many counties and the constant infighting usually discourages and drives away promising candidates rather than recruiting them. Most committees are too poorly-funded to offer any candidate more than a smile and a pat on the back; they have no permanent political structure of consultants, field organizers, volunteers, donors, phone banks, voter lists, slates, sign locations, or the other important resources candidates need. They have no field or GOTV operations. In many cases, they even lack a permanent campaign office.

The Democrats are fortunate in that their local political operations are drawn from the unions, public employee and others. The unions have established local political structures and networks that are automatically plugged in to Democrat candidates, giving them a huge advantage in many parts of the state. They have the precinct walkers, doorbell ringers, and phone bank volunteers; we don’t.

The solution? The California Republican Party needs to invest in a dramatic ramp-up of its presence at the city and county level:

— Develop county Republican Resource Centers to provide local candidates with the services and campaign infrastructure needed to wage viable campaigns, from volunteer lists to donor lists, campaign software, precinct maps and phone bank centers. These resources would be provided at no cost and can be shared among many candidates.

— Start devolving the political consultant community out of Sacramento where it has presided over the complete collapse of Republican congressional and legislative representation in the state over the last two decades. Contract with local Republican consultants who know their regions and have winning track records there

— Use the business community to counter the power of the labor community. Develop relationships with local businesses and employers to create a political infrastructure rivaling what the unions offer the other side. Reach out to the realtors, farm bureaus, grower-shipper associations and other bodies which have members, donors and facilities. Ever heard of running phone banks from a real estate office or produce sales office instead of a union hall?

— Start focusing on fundraising at the grassroots. Republican fundraising consultants in California are about as rare as Jeff Flake at a MAGA rally. No one is out there raising local money for local candidates. Again, the top-heavy approach of Sacramento PAC fundraisers setting up dinners at Frank Fat’s does nothing to help a candidate running for the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.

— Start building candidate development committees in every county, a body of respected party elders and donors who are plugged in to the business community and can raise money for candidates they identify as promising prospects. Unless we have funded candidates, we lose. It simply isn’t enough to simply have the right philosophy.

In the desolate 2018 political wasteland that is California, the Republican Party is doomed if it continues along the same course it has for years. The top-down strategy of a burned-out political consultant class in Sacramento running the show isn’t working any more. It is said that “all political roads in California lead to Sacramento.” Well, those roads are now blocked to Republicans. For a rebirth of our prospects here, we need to start taking the back roads that run through Paso Robles, Gilroy, Hanford, Manteca and Modesto. Go local or die!

Andrew Russo is a Republican political consultant based in Hollister, CA. He owns Paramount Communications. He can be reached at [email protected] or 831-595-8914.

Signs of Hope in California?

CapitolRonald Reagan is not coming back, but California may be avoiding a trip to the insane asylum. Yes, the GOP’s lackluster gubernatorial candidate, John Cox, lost by almost 20 points, and the only issue in the legislature is whether the Democrats regain their supermajority in both houses. But it could have been much worse.

The GOP lost only two or three congressional districts in southern California and appeared to be holding its own in the interior. In my own district, to my surprise, Mimi Walters, who was out-campaigned and outspent, managed to win. Others, like the more contentious Dana Rohrabacher, did not.

Without a change in approach, Republican growth potential is limited by changing demographics and an increasingly bifurcated state economy. At best, the GOP, running on its traditional anti-tax platform, can get up near 45 percent—as shown in the failed repeal of the gas tax, Proposition 6—but no further. This strategy still works marginally in places like Orange County and the interior but fails overall.

In a sense, California elections are now about how far left the state is willing to go. Proposition 10, a measure to expand rent control, was soundly defeated by a massive ad campaign targeting homeowners fearful of seeing curbs on the prices that they could charge to rent their homes. The outcome suggests that if the business community appeals to the middle-class without the Trumpian baggage, voters will support more moderate positions. Perhaps even more important was the victory of Marshall Tuck, a Democrat running with Republican support for Superintendent of Education against the candidate of the teachers’ union. But the limits of moderation are always evident.  Steve Poizner, a registered Republican running for State Insurance Commissioner, appears to be falling behind Ricardo Lara, a far-left Democrat best known for leading the fight for single-payer health care.

Despite improved earnings by lower-wage workers, Republicans remain in serious trouble in Latino and African-American communities. Simply put, a competitive California needs a racial realignment that adds to the shrinking base of white GOP voters. The best target for that goal is the Asian community, the state’s fastest-growing and arguably most successful ethnic group. Asians may be repelled by Trump’s immigration rhetoric, but they tend to be middle-class homeowners who care about schools and safety, and they won’t be happy if the Democrats move further left in terms of seizing zoning policy from communities or feeding the public sector with ever more middle-class taxes.

Southern California Republicans have worked hard to appeal to Asian voters; there are three Asian-American assembly members, two state senators, and three supervisors (out of five total), all Republicans. A highlight yesterday was the election of Young Kim in a northern Orange County congressional district. Asians now make up about 20 percent of Orange County residents, and Asian Republicans are common. They seem to be able to win in districts where Trump is unpopular. It’s hard to run on a racism charge against someone born in Incheon.

The question is where this potential white-Asian alliance is going. Michelle Steele, the politically aggressive supervisor in Orange County, where the board is majority-Asian, is considering a run for statewide office. If Republicans can pull Asians away from the Democrats, at least at the local level, they could restore a semblance of political competition in the state.

In the years ahead, the most important struggle in California will be within the Democratic Party. Two distinct factions increasingly predominate. One, close to the tech community, adopts the gender, environmental, and race agenda of the Left, but rejects income redistribution and is congenitally hostile to unions. Voters in this group tended to back Tuck for education superintendent, and many supported Poizner for insurance commissioner, but they remained cool to Cox’s gubernatorial bid.

The other, now-ascendant faction, comes from the hard Left, and is backed by public-employee unions, nurses, and other service providers. Their constant campaigning—particularly in the face of gross inequality in the Bay Area—has begun to reach the tech hoi polloi. As recent protests at Google suggest, the hard Left may not be ready to embrace the edicts of “the Brahmin Left,” which is fundamentally devoted to looking progressive while preserving, to use the Left’s terminology, their distinct, mostly white and male, privilege. Silicon Valley oligarchs, who have often funded “woke” activists in their native Bay Area, now face being awakened themselves by rising demands for “social justice.”

California’s Left today is not like that of the past. It is not interested in building usable infrastructure, meeting the aspirations of working- or middle-class families, or creating middle-skill jobs. These are exceedingly difficult tasks if you also want to adopt the state’s draconian green agenda. The new Left’s solutions to state problems, like housing, tend toward ideas like turning single-family neighborhoods into “vibrant” (read: crowded) apartment blocks, boosting housing subsidies, and imposing rent control.

Donald Trump’s presence in the White House and the GOP’s control of the Senate creates real problems for California. Under Barack Obama, greens could hope that the rest of the country would follow the California lead. But for the next two years, at least, other states will be busily picking off companies and individual talent eager to escape California’s high prices and regulatory restraints. As a result, the feudalization of the state will proceed, necessitating ever-more expansive subsidies for everything from housing and energy to education. The demographics certainly are in place for a potential lurch leftward. Proposition 10, for example, may have lost the votes of home-owning Democrats, but it was widely backed by their children, who have little choice, if they stay in the state, but to remain renters for life.

Ultimately, California’s battles over rent control — as well as single-payer health care, restrictions on driving, and expanding racial and gender quotas — will only intensify. These policies can be implemented only with huge tax increases, in a state that already imposes one of the highest taxation rates in the country. (Single-payer alone could double the state budget.) Silicon Valley may hold the purse strings and, increasingly, the means of communication, but the California that it has helped shape may soon choose other priorities besides virtue-signaling while the super-rich get still richer.

Teachers’ Unions Appalled at Idea of Paying Teachers Like Rock Stars

TeacherIf you’re looking for a stellar example of teachers’ unions ongoing commitment to mediocrity or worse, then you need only look at their reaction to California GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s idea of paying top-notch teachers much higher salaries – perhaps even rivalling those earned by ballplayers and rock stars. The unions, of course, pan the idea. One union official told the Sacramento Bee that “education should not be a competitive endeavor.”

Cox seemed to suggest in a statement to the newspaper that he engaged in some hyperbole: “Of course our teachers will never approach the pay of a Beyonce or a Lebron, but quite frankly, our classroom teachers influence, inspire and change the arc of more lives than even these music and athletic superstars.” But his idea of instituting a form of merit pay makes a lot of sense. Despite the naysaying, every successful enterprise is, to some degree, competitive.

Merit pay is a simple concept. It allows school administrators to pay good, effective teachers more than mediocre or poor-performing teachers. It allows signing bonuses and performance-based rewards. The obvious corollary is that it also allows them to pay bad or incompetent teachers lower salaries. In a truly competitive educational model that goes beyond this simple idea, school officials could even – get this – demote, discipline or fire teachers who aren’t making the grade. That’s how it works in almost any private business, and even private schools.

In the current public-school system, however, pay is based on seniority. A school teacher who has been just occupying a chair for decades, must be paid better than a young go-getter. A teacher who is willing to ply his or her skills in a tough, low-performing urban school must be paid the same as a teacher on autopilot in a wealthy suburban district, where the challenges are less severe and the stakes not as high. In times of layoffs, that energetic tough student working a hard gig must be laid off first, thanks to something known as LIFO, or “Last In, First Out.”

In the current, union-controlled monopoly system school administrators are not free to recruit the best and brightest talent from other industries because, well, they can’t pay enough to lure them out of more lucrative fields. And anyone who wants to be a regular, full-time teacher in California’s public schools must go through the long, expensive and mind-numbing process of getting an education degree. (Did I mention that those who receive such degrees tend to come from the bottom rungs of the academic ladder, according to numerous studies?)

To make matters worse, it’s nearly impossible to fire public-school teachers provided they show up for the job. School districts have “rubber rooms,” where teachers deemed unfit for the classroom twiddle their thumbs and collect full pay and benefits while their cases are adjudicated for months and even years given all the union protections against firing. It can cost school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars to go through the firing process, so most don’t bother.

That leads to an annual, cynical process called the “dance of the lemons.” As Peter Schweizer explained for the Hoover Institution, “Often, as a way to save time and money, an administrator will cut a deal with the union in which he agrees to give a bad teacher a satisfactory rating in return for union help in transferring the teacher to another district. The problem teacher gets quietly passed along to someone else. Administrators call it ‘the dance of the lemons’ or ‘passing the trash.’” These cases usually involve teachers accused of some terrible action, but it’s functionally impossible to get rid of or pass along teachers who are merely incompetent. I recall when John Stossel showed a long flow chart of how to fire a teacher in New York City. The audience was stunned. Then Stossel, held up more pages of the chart. It’s crazy and the results are insane.

In 2012, nine California public-school students filed a lawsuit against California and the CTA arguing that the state’s system of teacher protections violates the state constitution’s promise of an “effective” education. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled on behalf of the students. He invalidated teacher tenure and other work rules because they assured that a percentage of “grossly ineffective” teachers would be left in the classroom, wreaking havoc on the future of many thousands of students, especially those in poor school districts.

In his decision, Treu noted that “an expert called by (California school administrators), testified that 1 – 3 percent of teachers in California are grossly ineffective. Given that the evidence showed roughly 275,000 active teachers in this state, the extrapolated number of grossly ineffective teachers ranges from 2,750 to 8,250.” That’s a lot of bad teachers, and a depressing number of students who suffer in their classrooms. But Treu’s decision was overturned on appeal, and the appeal was upheld by the California Supreme Court. But the facts are the facts, even if the court was unwilling to back a decision to shake up the state’s public-education system.

This is what happens when the educational system is not a “competitive endeavor,” but rather a union-controlled, government monopoly. It means that good teachers cannot be rewarded. Great teachers cannot easily be recruited. Grossly ineffective teachers cannot easily be removed. And mediocre ones have few incentives to improve. Imagine how this system would work in your particular profession or business. How well would it do if the worst are protected, the best are neglected and the so-so ones are rewarded?

In the news story, candidate Cox didn’t get into the details of the hiring/firing process, but his merit-pay idea should be widely applauded. Yet on its website, the California Teachers’ Association says that “merit pay is flawed in concept. Where it has been tried, it has proved to be a detriment rather than a stimulus to better education. CTA is open to consideration of alternative pay plans as determined by the local associations through the collective bargaining process.”

As a final note, the debate over merit pay reinforces the wisdom of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision, which declared that teachers and other public employees are not required to pay union dues even to support collective-bargaining purposes. Justice Samuel Alito, wrote for the majority that such bargaining often involved “fundamental questions of education policy,” so it’s antithetical to the First Amendment to compel people to support ideas to which they don’t agree.

“Should teacher pay be based on seniority, the better to retain experienced teachers?” Justice Alito asked. “Or should schools adopt merit-pay systems to encourage teachers to get the best results out of their students?” Public-school teachers no longer are forced to subsidize the opposition to merit pay and to reforms to the current tenure and seniority based system, but there’s still a long process ahead to move toward the idea that Cox touted.

Steven Greenhut is a contributing editor for the California Policy Center. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at [email protected].

This article was originally published by the CA Policy Center

Once again, California Prop. 13 is ‘on the table’

property taxIn the contest to see who will be California’s next governor, political pollsters haven’t given Republican John Cox much of a chance of prevailing over former San Francisco mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. After all, California remains a fairly progressive state and the Newsom campaign has more money. Cox, to his credit, has closed the gap significantly in recent weeks and stays focused on his message highlighting that California’s government is dysfunctional, and what can be done about it.

Newsom and Cox have had only one debate — which was actually billed as a “discussion” rather than a true debate — and no further debates are scheduled, although Cox has agreed to them. Given his advantages in the race, Newsom appears to be steering clear of anything that could trip him up.

However, their one debate was illuminating in one, troubling respect. In a discussion of tax reform connected to housing, Newsom was asked directly whether Proposition 13 was “on the table.” He answered, “everything is on the table.” This is a comment to send cold shivers down the spines of Californians whose homes are their lifelong and most important investment.

To read the entire column, please click here.

To read last week’s complete column, please click here.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

Travis Allen backs John Cox for CA governor

Nearly two months after he finished a distant fourth in the California gubernatorial primary, Assemblyman Travis Allen endorsed his fellow Republican John Cox for governor.

It wasn’t exactly a flowery endorsement or even one delivered in person, as Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa did in bestowing his endorsement on primary winner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom days after the election. Instead, Allen tweeted his endorsement, mentioning his own upcoming “Take Back California” statewide rally tour just as prominently as he did Cox.

“It’s time we put the Primary past us and UNITE to WIN IN NOVEMBER,” Allen, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), wrote Sunday on Twitter. “Today, I’m officially endorsing Republican nominee JOHN COX and announcing the TAKE BACK CALIFORNIA Tour to Organize CA Conservatives. Join TODAY, and together let’s TAKE BACK CALIFORNIA!!”

Cox accepted the endorsement — via Twitter — saying, “Travis was a great competitor that cares about the millions of Californians forgotten by the Sacramento political class.”

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

California Primary: Big Night for Republicans as John Cox Qualifies for November Ballot

John Cox 1Republican businessman John Cox has been projected as the second-place finisher in the California primary for governor, securing a slot at the top of the ticket on the November ballot and lifting GOP hopes to retain Congress.

The major news networks made the call with just a small percentage of the vote counted, thanks to a surprisingly strong result from Cox, who far out-performed his poll numbers.

With just 17.2% of precincts partially reporting as of 10:04 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Cox had 26.0% of the vote, behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 35.1% and far ahead of former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 11.1%, as well as conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who had 10.9%.

The final RealClearPolitics average of polls had Cox at just 17.5%.

Cox appears to have benefited from an endorsement from President Donald Trump. He also spent heavily in the early months of the race, boosting his name recognition and convincing observers he was the GOP’s only hope. Newsom’s campaign also boosted Cox, fearing an expensive battle against Villaraigosa in the general election.

The gubernatorial race was once thought to be a guaranteed all-Democrat fight between Newsom and Villaraigosa. Under California’s “top two” or “jungle” primary system, the top vote-winners in the primary advance, regardless of party. The conventional wisdom was that Villaraigosa would turn out the Latino vote and surpass any GOP rivals. Special interests began placing multimillion-dollar bets on that outcome, using the Newsom-Villaraigosa race as a proxy for a battle over school reform, for example. Democrats hoped that race would boost down-ticket candidates.

But Republicans, led by Allen and others, began organizing a statewide effort to put a repeal of California’s new gas tax on the November ballot. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived in Sacramento in early March, armed with a federal lawsuit against California’s new “sanctuary state” laws. That inspired conservative activists to mount a revolt against those laws in local governments throughout Southern California. Cox and Allen saw their polls rise.

With a Republican now competing in the most important statewide election, the GOP believes it can turn out its vote in November and protect vulnerable members of Congress in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That, in turn, will make it much more difficult for Democrats to pick up the 23 seats they need nationwide to win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives and to put former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) back in power.

Villaraigosa struggled to gain traction in the polls. He was also hurt by errors in the voter rolls in L.A. County, which accidentally excluded nearly 120,000 people, many of whom had to cast provisional ballots, and some of whom may not have been able to vote at all. Villaraigosa called on officials to extend voting through Friday.

Republicans appeared to qualify for the general election in several other statewide races, but not for insurance commissioner, where former Republican Steve Poizner won the primary as a “no party preference” candidate. The race for second in the primary for U.S. Senate was neck-and-neck between Republican James Bradley and State Sen. Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles); incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) came in first place easily.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

How to Resurrect California’s Republican Party

CA GOPAnyone taking a look at California’s June 2018 state primary ballot would have plenty of evidence to suggest the Republican Party in that state is dead. For starters, California’s GOP has two credible candidates for governor, businessman John Cox and State Assemblyman Travis Allen, which in a normal state might be a good thing. But California’s Republicans are a super-minority party in an open “top-two primary” that pits them against at least two well-funded Democratic candidates, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Although Cox is polling better than Allen, they’re both likely to be aced off the ticket in November.

Worse, California’s Republicans have no viable candidate for U.S. Senate. The most recognizable candidate — indelibly listed as “Republican” on the ballot despite being kicked out of the recent GOP state convention — is Patrick Little, whose campaign website’s home page includes a “learn more” button on the topic of “How We Will End Jewish Supremacism.”

There is not one higher state office in California where a Republican has a realistic chance of victory. Nearly every position — lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, controller, and state superintendent of schools — Democratic candidates are likely to win. The lone exception is insurance commissioner, where the respected Steve Poizner, who has already held that office as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, is now running as an independent.

California’s GOP Party Organization Has Failed

If you go to the California GOP website to view endorsements, you will see the party faithful failed to choose a gubernatorial candidate. This failure of leadership means that their two candidates, Allen and Cox, are likely to split the support of GOP voters, which increases the likelihood that neither Republican will advance to the general election. (Though current polling suggests Cox could squeak through.) Given the fierce determination of both these candidates, one might forgive the state GOP for not managing to make a selection.

But the state GOP’s failure to make endorsements, which are critical in open primaries where only the top two candidates advance, continues down the ticket.

For state treasurer, there is “no endorsement,” despite two Republican candidates on the ballot. For U.S. Senate, there is “no endorsement,” despite 11 Republican candidates on the ballot. That lapse renders it likely that the top Republican vote-getter in the race for U.S. Senate will be the candidate with the most name recognition — you guessed it, the loathsome Patrick Little.

For insurance commissioner, the state GOP apparently didn’t know what to do, since most of them realize former Republican Steve Poizner is a good choice. So instead of “no endorsement” showing up, they simply omitted that position from their list of endorsements. Why couldn’t the state GOP recruit and promote top candidates? Is there really any excuse for this, when there are still tens of thousands of highly successful men and women who are registered Republicans in California and would be good candidates?

When you look for leadership in California’s Republican party, you might consider the last candidate for governor who had a respectable showing: Meg Whitman. (The less said about Neel Kashkari, the better.) But Whitman just publicly endorsed a Democrat, Antonio Villaraigosa. With leadership like that, who needs enemies? Is Whitman a RINO? Is she a turncoat? Or, to be brutally honest, is she just recognizing the cold reality that California is a one-party state, so she wants to support the person she perceives to be the lesser evil?

Demographic Trends Favor the Democrats

If demographic trends and current voting patterns persist, California is going to be a one-party state for a very long time. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, among California’s “likely voters,” more whites are registered as Republicans, 39 percent, than Democrats, 38 percent. But “whites” are only 38 percent of California’s population, and that percentage is dropping fast. Among residents under 18 years old, excluding illegal aliens, whites are now barely 25 percent of California’s population. Why does this matter?

Because among likely voters, Latinos registered as Democrats (62 percent) far outnumber Latino Republicans (17 percent). Among blacks, the disparity is even greater—82 percent Democrat versus 6 percent Republican. Among Asians, where the disparity is less, the Democrats still have a nearly two-to-one advantage, 45 percent to 24 percent.

California’s Democrats successfully have tainted Republicans as racist ever since Governor Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187 in 1994. That citizens’ initiative, narrowly passed by voters then utterly decimated by liberal judges, would have—gasp!—denied taxpayer-funded public services to illegal immigrants. Ever since, any attempt to place realistic curbs on benefits for illegal aliens has been met with militant opposition by Democrats who control a supermajority in California’s legislature. California’s Democrats have played the race card with impunity.

In late 2016, when incoming President Trump proposed to deport criminal aliens, Democratic Assemblyman Ricardo Lara—now running for insurance commissioner—threatened to “fight in the streets” to preserve “the work we have done.” Democratic State Senator Kevin de León—now running for U.S. Senate against long-time incumbent Democratic Dianne Feinstein—frequently refers to “President Trump’s racist-driven deportation policies.” California attorney general Xavier Becerra has been quoted stating that “Trump was showing himself to be a racist in every respect.” Examples are endless. This November, California’s Democrats are going to make Patrick Little and Donald Trump the running mate of every Republican on every ballot in the state.

But will this work forever? Does California’s GOP have to stay dead? Will “people of color” continue to believe that California should be a one-party state?

Demographics Is Not Destiny

Eventually, California’s Democrats are going to go too far, because their policies are economically unsustainable. Gavin Newsom, the favorite to occupy the governor’s mansion in 2019, proposes a single-payer health care system for the state, something that would cost at least $200 billion a year, in addition to sowing chaos throughout California’s healthcare industry. Meanwhile, California’s Democrats propose to offer full health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants, spend tens of millions to provide free college tuition to illegal immigrants, in a state where taxpayers already fund over $25 billion per year to provide public services to illegal immigrants.

How long can this go on?

Objecting to these costly programs may attract accusations of racism, but growing numbers of Latinos, blacks, and Asians, along with white liberals, may eventually decide that Democrats no longer have the answer. All it will take is one major stock correction, or one more downturn in the historically cyclical tech industry, and California’s public finances will implode. All of a sudden, hundreds of billions in tax receipts necessary to sustain free health care, free tuition, and public-sector pensions, to say nothing of benefits for illegal aliens, will vaporize. Economic calamities that reach deep into the pocketbooks and tragically disrupt the lives of ordinary voters have a way of focusing the mind.

The GOP’s case in such times, and to prevent such times, is not abstruse. It goes like this: For decades, Democrats have told you that the most important issue in the world was protecting yourselves from white racism. But while you were voting for the people who kept telling you this, their government unions, controlled by Democrats, were destroying the public schools that might have provided your children with a useful education.

Their government bureaucracies, controlled by Democrats, were driving small businesses out of business with ridiculous, punitive regulations, forcing many of them to flee the state, denying you jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Instead of investing in transportation and water infrastructure to enable a reasonable quality of life to long-time residents and new arrivals alike, Democratic politicians used taxpayers’ money to overpay the government employees, so that government unions would fund the Democratic Party.

The GOP’s case doesn’t end with exposing racism as a diversion from the real issues of economic growth. It also exposes extreme environmentalism, and the synergy between the environmental movement, the overbuilt public sector, and left-wing oligarchs.

For decades, these extreme environmentalists, all of them Democrats, prevented perfectly benign land development in a state literally sprawling with open space. They did this in the name of saving the earth, downplaying how the resulting real estate bubble pumped up government property tax receipts and goosed the returns for the real estate portfolios in government pension funds. They prevented private investment in cheap conventional energy—in particular, clean natural gas and nuclear power—so residents have to pay twice as much (or more) for electricity as people in other states. Democrats barred private investment in oil drilling and refining, and imposed automotive and fuel standards in conflict with the rest of the United States, so Californians pay substantially more at the gas pump.

A Pro-Growth Economic Opportunity Agenda for California

Turning California back into the land of opportunity isn’t that hard, since it still has the best universities, the best weather, and the largest, most diverse economy in America. And California’s GOP politicians can make it happen, by promoting a pro-growth agenda at the same time as they expose identity politics and extreme environmentalism for what they are — a gigantic scam that distracted voters from the real issues. Here is a pro-growth, economic opportunity agenda for California:

Education

Restore the balance in California’s colleges and universities so that the ratio of faculty to administrators is 2-to-1, instead of the current ratio that allows administrators often to outnumber teachers.

End all discrimination and base college admissions purely on merit. Expand STEM curricula so it represents 50 percent of college majors instead of the current 20 percent.

Enforce the Vergara reforms so it is easier to retain quality public school teachers and easier to fire the incompetent ones. Eliminate barriers to charter schools.

Criminal Justice

Restructure the penal system to make it easier for prisoners to perform useful public services. For example. along with working the fire lines during fire season, they could work all year clearing dead trees out of California’s forests. Use high-tech monitoring devices to reduce costs. Reserve current prisons only for the truly incorrigible.

Infrastructure

Scrap the high-speed rail project and instead use the proceeds to add one lane to every major interstate in California, and upgrade and resurface all state highways.

Use additional high-speed rail funds to complete plant upgrades so that 100 percent of California’s sewage is reused, even treated to potable quality.

Pass legislation to streamline approval of the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and fast-track applications for additional desalination plants, especially in Los Angeles.

Spend the entire proceeds of the $7 billion water bond, passed overwhelmingly by Californians in 2014, on storage. Build the Los Banos GrandesSites, and Temperance Flat reservoirs, adding over 5.0 million acre feet of storage to the California Water Project. Pass aggressive legislation and fund aggressive legal actions and counteractions, to lower costs and enable completion of these projects in under five years (which is all the time it used to take to complete similar projects).

Energy

Permit slant drilling to access 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits from land-based rigs along the Southern California coast. Build an LNG terminal off the coast in Ventura County to export California’s natural gas to foreign markets. Permit development of the Monterey Shale formation to extract oil and gas.

Permit construction of “generation 3+” nuclear power plants in geologically stable areas of California’s interior. Permit construction of new natural gas power plants.

Housing

Repeal the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” and “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act” of 2008 and make it easy for developers to build homes on the suburban and exurban fringes, instead of just “in-fill” that destroys existing neighborhoods.

Pensions and Infrastructure

Require California’s public employee pension funds to invest a minimum of 10 percent of their assets in infrastructure projects as noted above. They could issue fixed rate bonds or take equity positions in the revenue-producing projects, or a combination of both. This would immediately unlock approximately $80 billion in construction financing to rebuild California’s infrastructure. At the same time, save the pension systems by striking down the “California Rule” that prevents meaningful pension reform.

These reforms would lower the cost of living in California, at the same time as they would create resource abundance and hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs.

Why Republicans Are the Most Qualified to Rescue California

Once you’ve debunked the narrative that Republicans are racists, it is easier for voters, regardless of their ethnicity, to see their virtues. To a startling degree, California’s Republican legislators typically come from business backgrounds, whereas most Democratic legislators come from a government agency or a nonprofit background.

In 2016, an analysis of the biographies of California’s state legislators showed that 69 percent of Republican legislators came from a business background, 19 percent of them had some business and some government or nonprofit experience, and only 11 percent of them came exclusively from a government or nonprofit background. By contrast, only 6 percent of Democrats came from a business background, only 18 percent of them came from a mixed business and government or nonprofit background, while a whopping 76 percent of them came exclusively from a government or nonprofit background. One can draw profound conclusions from this unambiguous data.

In business, competence is emphasized; in government, personal connections are everything. In business, the objective is to competitively build and run productive companies; in government, to control, coerce, and redistribute. To work in business one must study engineering or finance and accounting. To work in government, one may study sociology or earn a major in any number of social justice-oriented “studies.”

What is the result of California’s Democratic lawmakers, in overwhelming numbers, lacking any experience in business? A state where financial realism is eclipsed by confrontational, utopian fantasy. A state where self-righteousness and self-deception are the currency of governance, instead of factual analysis and hard choices. A state where the infectious optimism that defines and is a prerequisite for business leadership is absent from a dismal capital.

Republicans can offer an irresistible alternative. They can promote abundance instead of scarcity; prosperity instead of an “era of limits;” hope and opportunity instead of resentment, retribution and redistribution; universal upward mobility instead of divisive scrapping for diminishing wealth.

They need to get busy.

Edward Ring co-founded the California Policy Center in 2010 and served as its president through 2016. This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Moderate Republicans Have Been Conned Into Supporting Antonio Villaraigosa: The Most Hard-Left Gubernatorial Candidate in History

Photo courtesy Center for American Progress Action Fund, flickr

Photo courtesy Center for American Progress Action Fund, flickr

There are very important reasons why we should unite behind Cox. First, it’s about voter turnout in November. The top of the ticket always affects voter turnout so a ballot with no Republican at the top could suppress our turnout by enough to cause losses in many races down-ticket. Indeed, liberal strategists claim California is key to winning back the house and they’re hoping to flip at least five congressional seats. If that occurs, Pelosi becomes speaker, the Dems will impeach Trump based on phony Russia collusion allegations and the Trump agenda will come to a screeching halt. Moreover, there are important propositions on the ballot that will be affected by a low GOP turnout. Furthermore, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of Cox winning in November. Yes, that would be a major upset, but then again, no one thought Trump would win and it’s entirely possible that Californians may be finally realizing they’ve had enough of big government, high unemployment, high taxes and open borders.

This is why it’s shocking to see so many moderate Republicans like Reed Hastings, Jim Cunneen, Meg Whitman, Richard Riordan and others come out in support of Antonio Villaraigosa. Like many moderate Republicans, they are not thinking about the larger political picture nor do they seem to be aware of the long-term goals of the left. Nothing new. And they are playing right into the hands of the left who have launched a campaign to attack Cox in order to end up with two Democrats on the November ballot so that GOP voter turnout in November is affected. If Cox didn’t have a chance of placing 2nd, why then are the Democrats, and their moderate Republican front groups, spending millions attacking him?

We also need to keep in mind that California is key to the anti-Trump resistance and they must keep the governorship in order to maintain its role as the lead resistance state. California is providing taxpayer-financed legal work to oppose many of Trump’s initiatives, particularly having to do with immigration. It’s all part of the left’s long-term strategy to legitimatize the idea that illegal aliens have the right to vote and to delegitimitize the idea that a nation needs borders and citizenship to govern effectively or to govern at all. The money and power California is providing to the resistance movement rests largely upon maintaining control of the governor’s house. The attack on American sovereignty, the concept of citizenship and the rule of law have always been targets of the left, but never did they imagine they would be able to con a few powerful moderates into supporting their dark agenda.

One PAC, headed by wealthy GOP moderates such as Reed Hastings and Eli Broad, and also funded by former New York liberal Republican governor Michael Bloomberg, is sending out numerous mailers full of falsehoods about Cox. The mailer is sponsored by a group called “The California Charter School Associate Advocates.” I’m sorry, but the CCSAA doesn’t represent all charter schools; in fact, I don’t know any charter schools who are CCSAA members and I was the leading advocate of charter schools when I served as the chairman of the Education Committee in 1994. Nor is CCSAA operating in any kind of democratic fashion. There wasn’t any kind of vote by charter school leaders to endorse Villaraigosa and to engage in phony attacks on John Cox. CCSAA is mostly a play-thing for a handful of politically naive moderates who don’t even know they’re being used.

Indeed, the idea that Villaraigosa is some kind of education reformer, as implied by CCSAA, is bunk. The entire time I served with Villaraigosa, he never broke ranks with the education unions. Not once. Indeed, in his past, he worked as a consultant for the California Teachers Association (CTA) and served as an Area Representative for the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), two radically left unions which have never supported any education reforms whatsoever. Nor was Villaraigosa anywhere to be found when the battle to create and expand charter schools was fought. Only now, decades after all the key charter bill battles were fought, is Villaraigosa claiming to be a charter school supporter all along. Is Hastings and his crowd really that stupid to think that after a lifetime of promoting the union line, Villaraigosa will be an education reformer as governor?

California remains near-last in the country in math and reading scores and has been there for decades. The turning point was in the 1990s when the teachers unions basically became so powerful and entrenched that the system reached the point of no return. It may be too late for any serious reform to ever occur. The only reforms that would have mattered would have been to infuse the education system with private funding and entrepreneurs by use of a voucher system, but Villaraigosa opposed all such efforts.

Then there is socialized medicine, with my friend and former roommate, former Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, telling me he supports Villaraigosa due to his opposition to Senate Bill 562, a bill that would allow the state to take over all health care at a cost of $200 billion – an amount larger than the entire state budget. Any idiot could have seen that there was no way the state could afford that bill, so opposing SB562 was really not a profile in courage. But voters need to know Villaraigosa does not oppose socialized medicine, just that particular bill. He says so himself on his own campaign website. He states that “our priority should be to achieve universal health care in California by expanding the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]… .” I guess no one told the moderates, but Villaraigosa over and over says “we must – and will – protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and work towards universal care.”

The moderates seem to be completely ignorant of Villaraigosa’s record. One of the most serious state budget problems is the state pension system in which hundreds of thousands of state employees are benefiting from a system far more generous than comparable private systems. Villaraigosa claims to be a champion of pension reform but he refused to vote for the one bill that could have averted the current crisis. When Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian offered a bill in 1996 that would, as he stated, “permit all jurisdictions (including cities, counties, special districts and school districts, not just the state employer) to offer a 401K type of defined contribution plan,” it would have saved state and local government millions of dollars and prevented the chronic state budget crisis that we are now constantly dealing with.

Indeed, Villaraigosa has voted for every tax increase he’s ever encountered and will advocate for more tax increases as governor. But he’s always been a big government advocate; for crying out loud, he used to be the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3230. The moderates point to the fact that Villaraigosa had to cut spending as Los Angeles mayor, when the budget, due to all the liberal social programs and its out-of-control pension plan, was way out of balance.   But he didn’t have a choice; balancing the city budget is required by law and Villaraigosa did not have all the budget gimmicks he relied on in Sacramento to hide millions of dollars. Unlike the state budget, the Los Angeles budget is very straight forward.

But to regard Villaraigosa as a fiscal hero is preposterous. As mayor, he spent millions of federal dollars intended for city services on renovating a million-dollar yacht owned by the city. He also gave massive raises – some as high as 25% – to the city’s 22,000 employees during his tenure. And not just once. There is little doubt that as governor Villaraigosa will increase the size of government and sign into law all kinds of new taxes. This is why he will not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes. John Cox has. With the state already suffering from one of the highest tax burdens in the country, his policies will further devastate the state’s economy and chase more business owners out of state. Perhaps  Mr. Hastings can explain to the voters exactly how Villaraigosa’s big government policies will help the state economy.

Indeed, none of this should surprise anyone who knows Villaraigosa’s political background. He has spent his entire life as a professional leftist agitator and was even president of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU where one of his actions was to sue cities that tried to ban the poor gangbangers from city parks. He supports open borders, strengthening California’s status as a “sanctuary state” and, as he has made clear, will look for ways to further defy federal immigration law, even if it means jeopardizing the safety of Californians by refusing to release – or even detain – illegal aliens involved with criminal activity. Already, it is costing California’s welfare, education, health care and criminal justice systems tens of billions of dollars to handle the 3 million illegal aliens already here. More troubling, though, is that by maintaining California’s sanctuary status, as Villaraigosa will, it sends a signal to millions south of the border to cross the border. Illegal aliens are bankrupting the state but Villaraigosa does not care because he believes illegal aliens have all the rights citizens have. Just ask him.

Indeed, Villaraigosa’s history of involvement with radical Hispanic separatist groups is perhaps the most troubling part of his background. As a student, he was president of MEChA at UCLA, a Hispanic supremacist group that calls for the re-annexation of the Western United States to Mexico. It regards California as an “occupied state” and calls for the “physical liberation of our land.” Not kidding. MEChA rallies always feature racist and violent language. He was also chairman of the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS), founded by Eliezer Risco, a communist revolutionary trained by Castro’s thugs. He also wrote for Sin Fronteras (Without Borders), a vicious, anti-American, open borders propaganda organ for the Hispanic separatist movement. Villaraigosa gave angry hate-filled speeches at rallies in opposition to Prop. 187, which simply required all state programs to benefit only legal citizens.

The California Coalition for Immigration Reform issued a statement claiming that “Mr. Villaraigosa’s participation at the Latino Summit Response to Proposition 187 in January, 1995, placed him among those activists who harbor anti-American sentiments and beliefs bordering on sedition.” He also participated in the “Marcha de Libertad” march on Washington in 1996, again, organized by the Hispanic separatist movement. This march called for free education, health care and welfare for all Latinos, regardless of citizenship. This rally also featured revolutionary banners and signs featuring statements such as “Get off our land.” Villaraigosa actually spoke at this hate rally and again called for more “rights” for all Latinos, regardless of citizenship.

Indeed, I watched Villaraigosa spend many hours in Sacramento trying to figure out how to give more “rights” and benefits to illegal aliens. He was the author of the bill that gave illegal aliens the “right” to obtain driver’s licenses, which, of course, made it easier to obtain welfare benefits and to register to vote. His long involvement with Hispanic separatist groups, his advocacy for illegal aliens his entire career and now his support for the “resistance” movement that forces California’s law enforcement community to not cooperate with the federal government on immigration policies, make it clear that his loyalty is to his race first and to his country second. He is not fit to be governor.

Just think for a second. If John Cox was president of a white separatist group, spewed racist rhetoric at KKK rallies and spoke about breaking away, say, southern states for a white separatist nation, would the media have covered it? Of course they would have. But no one in the media will ask Villaraigosa questions about his past involvement with hate groups. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Now it’s time for the voters to speak.

Steve Baldwin is a free lance writer based in San Diego, a former member of the California States Assembly and former Executive Director of the Council for National Policy.  

Campaigns Try to Fool California Voters

Gavin newsomPolitics – the means by which we govern ourselves – can be a positive, even uplifting human enterprise.

Too often, however, political tactics are based on the cynical assumption that voters can be easily fooled and the current election season is, unfortunately, rife.

Take, for example, the television ads that Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading candidate for governor, has been airing about John Cox, a San Diego businessman and the leading Republican.

Superficially, it’s logical that a Democratic candidate for governor would attack a Republican candidate. But these ads, alleging that Cox is closely allied with the National Rifle Association, have another, less obvious motive.

Newsom and his advisors know that if a Republican places second in the June 5 primary voting and thus wins a place on the November ballot, it would make Newsom’s election a near-certainty.

Conversely, were Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa to finish second on June 5, Newsom would have a real fight on his hands.

Therefore, the anti-Cox ad is not truly aimed at dragging him down, but rather to build him up among Republican primary voters, who are likely to be more pro-NRA and also likely to resent attacks on Cox by Democrat Newsom.

Clever? Yes, but also quite cynical, when you think about it.

In another example, Southern California’s 49th Congressional District is a prime battleground this year, thanks to Republican Congressman Darrell Issa’s decision to retire and the fact that the district favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016.

Democratic hopes of picking up a seat are complicated by having a bumper crop of Democratic candidates on the June 5 ballot, along with two well known Republican figures, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey.

Chavez and Harkey could finish 1-2 on June 5 and freeze Democrats out.

Therefore, the national Democratic congressional apparatus is hitting Chavez with allegations – aimed at GOP voters – that he is an untrustworthy Republican because he voted for Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases and the state budget.

Finally, California voters are seeing the usual quota of “slate mailers” that purport to advise them to vote for particular candidates.

While some do genuinely reflect the interests of the sponsoring organizations, many are nothing more than commercial enterprises.

Take, for example, mailers from a Torrance-based outfit called “Budget Watchdogs” that purports to favor candidates who are tight with the public’s money.

Uber-conservative Republican Travis Allen gets its nod for governor, but the rest of the mailer’s favored candidates are Democrats. They include arguably the Legislature’s most liberal member, state Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, who is running for insurance commissioner and wants to double the state budget by adopting single-payer health coverage.

Budget Watchdogs was created by Rex Hime, a one-time Republican political aide who for years headed the California Business Properties Association.

Budget Watchdogs is a non-profit corporation and, Hime told me a few years ago, “I don’t get squat” from the money it collects for its various projects, including the mailer. “It’s not a commercial enterprise.”

Nonetheless, we know that all Budget Watchdog’s recommendations reflect money paid by endorsees because state law requires them to be marked by asterisks.

There’s an even darker side to the slate mailer business – a kind of extortion. Some slate mail operators tell campaigns that if they don’t pay to have their candidates or ballot measure positions “recommended,” their opponents will be promoted for free.

Regardless of underlying motives, it’s a grubby trade based on assumptions about the gullibility of voters.

olumnist for CALmatters

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

John Cox Isn’t Sure Which State he is Running for Governor of!