How State GOP Can Get Out Of Wilderness

Republicans need better candidates and an agenda beyond kowtowing to Trump.

Barring something extraordinary, like, say, being caught on videotape dynamiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Gavin Newsom will be reelected as California governor in November.

And even if Newsom were to be jailed and convicted of such a nefarious assault on the Bay Area landmark, it is virtually certain he’d be succeeded by one or another of his fellow Democrats.

It’s been a decade and a half since a Republican won statewide office in California and more than a quarter of a century since the once-dominant GOP controlled either legislative chamber.

The ranks of Republican lawmakers in Sacramento are so shrunken that they have about as much say over legislation as the shrubbery growing outside the Capitol.

None of which is good for California.

Politicians and political parties need serious competition to hold them in check, keep them honest and avoid arrogance and overreach.

For our system of self-government to keep working, voters need to feel as though they have a voice and stake in the actions of their elected leaders.

Millions of Californians, who either identify as Republican or conservative, feel unheard and unseen in Sacramento, bobbing like red pinpoints in an ocean of blue. That alienation was a major impetus behind last year’s fruitless and extravagantly wasteful effort to recall Newsom and feeds the perpetual — if fanciful — talk of breaking off a chunk of rural California and creating a 51st state.

So what will it take for Republicans to regain relevancy and for California to once more benefit from a healthy and competitive two-party system?

The short answer is winning the governorship, not just electing more lawmakers to the Assembly and Senate, or to other statewide offices — though that would certainly help.

“In California, governor is an exceedingly powerful position,” said Marty Wilson, a former advisor to Pete Wilson and no relation to the ex-governor. “You’ve got a media platform. You make appointments. You can raise money for yourself as well as other candidates.”

Not least, a Republican chief executive could rebrand the party and improve its acrid image in the state.

Even before Donald Trump came along and warped the GOP into something resembling a zombie cult, the national Republican Party was seen in California as increasingly harsh, intolerant and beholden to its white Southern base. That guilt by association has hurt any candidate running statewide under the party banner.

Winning the governorship will require a different kind of Republican than most of those put forth over the last two decades — which is to say one capable of winning over more than a limited slice of the electorate.

California is a Democratic state, but not a flamingly liberal one. When Republicans got behind gubernatorial candidates who appealed to voters at or near the center — George Deukmejian, Wilson, Arnold Schwarzenegger — they succeeded. (Notably, the first time the politically moderate Schwarzenegger ran was in the 2003 recall election, a free-for-all of 135 candidates on a single ballot, avoiding a Republican primary he might well have lost.)

More often, the party has rallied behind gubernatorial hopefuls — the hapless Bill Simon Jr.,vapid John Cox,combustible Larry Elder — who excited the most ardently conservative Californians but were too inept or extreme for a majority of voters to swallow.

In theory, when — or if — things get bad enough under one-party Democratic rule, a meaningful number of voters will be amenable to giving Republicans another look. Call it the wreckage-and-ruin road to party redemption.

“A Democratic screw-up would open the door,” said Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College and former Republican National Committee staffer. But even then, he said, “It takes a quality Republican to walk through it…. Somebody who’s qualified, reasonable and pays attention to governance.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times


  1. Bill Saracino says

    If CPR readers wanted to read this kind of leftist drivel they’d subscribe to the L.A. Times or the Pyong Yang Gazette.

  2. This is completely wrong. The state GOP is in shambles because they have no balls. The only hope we have is to run an independent candidate. A Populist one. Someone who represents and works for the “Folks” (as Newsom calls the middle and working class) and not for Silicon Valley elites, state workers and the donor class.

  3. I agree with Stephanie re an independent candidate. A Trump-endorsed candidate would have no chance in the coastal counties that elect politicians in California. Now will all independents who have political experience, smarts, talent, charisma, great ideas on dealing with the issues that really matter to the average person (jobs, inflation, the border), plenty of hutzpah and are under, say, 70 years of age please jump up?

  4. Bill Saracino says

    Leftist drivel from a lifelong leftist who has probably never voted for a Republican. Why not just link to Pravda?

    • James V. Lacy says

      Once in a while we will publish an article that provokes some thought. Doesn’t mean we agree. The comments here are good ones.

  5. TheRandyGuy says

    Unfortunately, CA is a lost cause. Conservatives are on a steady progression out of CA, moving to rational states. Let the illegals, the Uber rich, and the welfare queens have it.

  6. Oh for the love of….this is out of the Leftist Angeles Times. If the GOP were to actually get behind a candidate and PUSH. Cox’s heart may be in the right place but he’s a vanity candidate, his vanity. Elder stood a chance IMHO, and the rest of the candidates needed to get the H out of the way. Full disclosure, I donated bo both Elder and Cox.

    IN the piece, listing the Arnold as a good Governor points to the article as being garbage.

    I believe that with the right candidate and some good backing we could take the Governorship, and uphill fight but there are more Center/Right than the leftists, but they have to get out and VOTE and beat the voting fraud and there is plenty of that to beat.

    • Mr. William Saracino says

      Amen and Amen. The L.A Dog Trainer is unworthy of being quoted here.

    • Yep. Arnold was more of less a Dem. He was only elected because he never revealed his views and was a celebrity. No much hope for this place, unfortunately. Did not know this ridiculous opinion piece was from the LA Times. That explains it all.

  7. If you are losing as badly as it appears there is no reason not to stand on solid Capitalist, Small Gov. planks and let the public decide.

    Appeal to the hard working middle class and working poor. Make the point that as long as government continues to take their money they will always have to depend on government handouts.

    If you are a Republican and run for office quote Pres. John Kennedy….. Lowering taxes get government more money. Then after quoting him point out that increasing the M1 money supply by lowering taxes “increases the value the dollar. More money in the hands of the people without printing more money….

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