Republican Committee Sues Google Over Email Spam Filters

The Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google, alleging the company has been suppressing its email solicitations ahead of November’s midterm elections — an allegation Google denies.

The lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of California Friday evening, accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against the RNC by unfairly sending the group’s emails to users’ spam folders, impacting both fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts in pivotal swing states.

“Enough is enough — we are suing Google for their blatant bias against Republicans,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement to The Associated Press. “For ten months in a row, Google has sent crucial end-of-month Republican GOTV and fundraising emails to spam with zero explanation. We are committed to putting an end to this clear pattern of bias.”

Google, in a statement, denied the charges. “As we have repeatedly said, we simply don’t filter emails based on political affiliation. Gmail’s spam filters reflect users’ actions,” said spokesperson José Castañeda, adding that the company provides training and guidelines to campaigns and works to “maximize email deliverability while minimizing unwanted spam.”

The lawsuit focuses on how Google’s Gmail, the world’s largest email service with about 1.5 billion users, screens solicitations and other material to help prevent users from being inundated by junk mail. To try to filter material that account holders may not want in their inboxes, Google and other major email providers create programs that flag communications likely to be perceived as unwelcome and move them to spam folders that typically are rarely, if ever, perused by recipients.

The suit says Google has “relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building” — particularly at the end of each month, when political groups tend to send more messages. “It doesn’t matter whether the email is about donating, voting, or community outreach. And it doesn’t matter whether the emails are sent to people who requested them,” it reads.

Google contends its algorithms are designated to be neutral, but a study released in March by North Carolina State University found that Gmail was far more likely to block messages from conservative causes. The study, based on emails sent during the U.S. presidential campaign in 2020, estimated Gmail placed roughly 10% of email from “left-wing” candidates into spam folders, while marking 77% from “right-wing” candidates as spam.

Gmail rivals Yahoo and Microsoft’s Outlook were more likely to favor pitches from conservative causes than Gmail, the study found.

The RNC seized upon that study in April to call upon the Federal Election Commission to investigate Google’s “censorship” of its fundraising efforts, which it alleged amounted to an in-kind contribution to Democratic candidates and served as “a financially devastating example of Silicon Valley tech companies unfairly shaping the political playing field to benefit their preferred far-left candidates.”

Since then, the commission has approved a pilot program that creates a way for political committees to get around spam filters so their fundraising emails find their way into recipients’ primary inboxes. Gmail is participating in the “ Verified Sender Program, ” which allows senders to bypasses traditional spam filters, but also gives users the option of unsubscribing from a sender. If the unsubscribe button is hit, a sender is supposed to remove that Gmail address from their distribution lists.

As of Friday evening, the RNC had not signed up to participate in the pilot program.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Newsom Calls GOP Governors “Bullies,” But What About Him?

Politicians who claim to have an elevated moral purpose risk being branded as hypocrites if they fail to live up to the standards they set for others.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom runs that risk as he denounces the Republican governors of other states, particularly Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, as “bullies” for their states’ policies on abortion, gay rights and other issues.

Newsom has run ads critical of the two governors and donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ challenger, Charlie Crist. At the very least, Newsom is raising his national political profile. But it could be the beginning of a presidential campaign, which he denies.

“People keep asking why I’m calling out DeSantis and these Republican governors,” Newsom tweeted late last month. “The answer is simple: I don’t like bullies.”

Newsom’s tweet contained his interview with ABC news, including a lengthy rant beginning with “I can’t take what’s going on in this country.”

“I can’t take what these governors are doing state after state affecting minorities, affecting vulnerable communities, threatening the Special Olympics with fines, going after the LGBTQ community, saying if you’ve been raped by your father you don’t have the right to express yourself and rights over your own body,” Newsom told ABC’s Matt Gutman.

“My entire life I don’t like bullies,” Newsom added. “I don’t like people who other other people. I don’t like people who demean other people and that’s being celebrated in American politics today and you got to call it out. DeSantis is the worst of it but Abbott and these other guys, they’re right there and forgive me, I’m naming them because we have to and I think people need to understand what’s going on in this country and there’s too much at stake.”

On the issues that Newsom cites, particularly abortion and LGBTQ rights, his criticism is more than warranted. But calling rival governors “bullies” is over the top. After all, they were duly elected to their positions, as was Newsom, and like him, probably will be re-elected this year. Their positions on these hot button issues would not fly in California, but they apparently do in their states.

That’s not bullying; it’s governing, which often means compelling people to do things they’d rather not do. Newsom has done a lot of it since becoming governor nearly four years ago, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was governing by decree.

Was Newsom being a bully or governing when he ordered thousands of small businesses to shut down to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus? Those affected, including more than 2 million workers who lost their jobs, might say he was being a bully, since larger businesses were often exempted.

Likewise, parents complained that Newsom arbitrarily closed schools and forced their children into “Zoom school” even though COVID-19’s threat to children was scant.

Many of California’s city officials have complained that Newsom is bullying them into building high-density housing that their constituents don’t want, threatening legal action or financial sanctions if they don’t comply. Newsom says the state must act aggressively to solve its housing shortage.

California gun owners complain constantly that Newsom and the Legislature impose nonsensical, harassing regulations on their constitutional right to bear arms.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Republican Beefs Up Campaign Spending as O.C. Threat Emerges

GOP Rep. Young Kim of Orange County has all the elements for a fairly easy path to reelection in November — a gloomy national mood favoring her party, a formidable campaign war chest and a new, more Republican-friendly district. Most prognosticators considered her June 7 primary to be an afterthought.

UNITED STATES – MAY 23: Young Kim, Republican running for California’s 39th Congressional district seat in Congress, speaks with attendees at the Brea & Placentia Caravan gathering of real estate professionals at Panera Bread in Brea, Calif., on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. California is holding its primary election on June 5, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

But now she is campaigning with a sudden sense of urgency. Kim has unleashed $1.3 million in advertising as the primary approaches. Outside allies are coming to her aid with more spending.

Most of Kim’s focus is on fending off Greg Raths, an underfunded GOP opponent who has been a staple on the political scene in Mission Viejo, the district’s largest city. After years of touting her bipartisan bona fides, she is upping her appeals to the GOP base, emphasizing her conservatism and hard-edged rhetoric on illegal immigration.

The explosion in spending may just be a cautionary measure, or a sign of a suddenly rattled front-runner. More broadly, Kim’s tilt further to the right reflects redistricting’s influence on politicians. With a shift in district boundaries, Kim’s campaign style has shifted too — vying for a constituency that is more conservative and less diverse than the residents she now represents.

“We think she is the heavy favorite to win reelection, but you can’t win reelection if you don’t make it through the primary first,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan campaign analysis. “I don’t think campaigns make these sort of moves unless there is a concern she isn’t going to make the top two.”

Kim still enjoys the powerful benefits of incumbency. If, in a huge upset, she fails to advance, the implications could reverberate in the national battle for control of the House. The sole Democratic candidate, physician Asif Mahmood, would have improved chances of turning the seat blue, a rare pickup opportunity in a cycle where his party is largely on defense.

Kim’s campaign portrayed the moves as due diligence that was long expected, particularly because she must introduce herself to 80% of the district’s voters.

“We don’t take anything for granted as Congresswoman Kim takes every campaign seriously,” said Sam Oh, a Kim campaign strategist. “She’s working hard to earn every vote.”

The first hints of a changing campaign dynamic came earlier this month, in a text message from Kim linking Raths, a Mission Viejo city councilman, to President Biden, blaming them both for illegal immigration. “We CANNOT risk the Raths-Biden agenda,” it read.

Since then, her advertisements have continued to pile on Raths, showing his photo with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and accusing him of being liberal.

That’s an unlikely label for the 68-year-old retired military colonel who is a devoted fan of former President Trump and the Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right Republicans in Congress. If the GOP takes the House, his choice for speaker would be Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a conservative firebrand, over House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Californian.

Raths was largely dismissed by political observers in his challenge against Kim, who had the backing of the Republican establishment and raised nearly $5 million as of March compared with Raths’ $100,000. Another Republican in the race, Nick Taurus, a right-wing extremist who has aligned himself with white nationalists, brought in less than $10,000.

But Raths does have an advantage of familiarity, especially among faithful Republican voters. He has appeared on their ballots multiple times in his city council runs. He also ran for Congress three times, most recently losing to Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in 2020.

After the decennial redistricting process set off a musical chairs among incumbents to compete in redrawn districts, Kim, 59, declared she’d run in the new 40th District. The predominantly inland Orange County swath includes Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. Her residence in La Habra sits just west of the boundaries (members of Congress are not required to live in their districts).

Although a majority of eligible voters in Kim’s current district are people of color (30% Asian American and 29% Latino), the new district has fewer minority voters and is nearly 61% white, according to the nonpartisan California Target Book, which handicaps races.

In previous races, Kim faced an uphill battle against a 5-point Democratic registration advantage. Biden easily beat Trump in that district by 10 percentage points in 2020. To win, she had to appeal to crossover voters — and she did so by emphasizing her moderate politics and making little mention of Trump. Her congressional website touts that she was recently rated the most bipartisan freshman member of Congress and among the top 10 most bipartisan Republican members.

In her unsuccessful run for Congress in 2018, she struck a moderate tone on immigration, emphasizing her support for a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” who were brought to the country illegally as children and opposing Trump’s policy of family separation at the border.

Now, running in redder territory — Republicans hold a 5-point registration advantage in the new district — her ads tell voters to “Vote Conservative. Vote Kim.” The immigration-focused text message sent by her campaign touts her support for securing the border, including “Keeping Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.”

“We’re highlighting her positions that the voters in this district care about that are timely and at the forefront of their minds,” said Oh, the campaign strategist. “It’s as simple as that.’

But Kim’s attempts to outflank Raths on the right may ring false with some voters.

“That’s crazy,” said Nancy Sandoval, 78, a Raths supporter and Mission Viejo resident who runs a website that offers voting advice for conservatives. “I know his heart. He certainly isn’t a liberal.”

Unable to afford television advertising, Raths has put his faith in what he called “an amazing stealth ground game.” He said his campaign has visited 70,000 houses in the district since February. Walking 12 miles a day, Raths said, he’s lost 27 pounds. He would also campaign while working as an Uber driver, pitching his candidacy to passengers.

Some Republicans worry he would be a flawed general election candidate. In 2020, he joined a lawsuit alleging the California election was rife with fraud, echoing Trump’s false election claims; the suit was thrown out by a federal judge. Fox News reported in April that his campaign website copied several passages nearly word for word from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s site. And this month, he said at a candidate forum that the Jewish community “control[s] a lot of politicians.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

2022 CAGOP Convention: Renewed Optimism for California Republicans

A variety of factors are encouraging many California Republicans that 2022 will bring a tide of Republican wins this year

The 2022 CAGOP Convention opened in Anaheim on Friday.

During the first day candidates, delegates, guests and others said one word more than most: Optimism. Amid California facing worsening crime rates, a stagnating state government, low voter turnout, high gas prices, a higher cost of living, a housing shortage, wildfires, strangled businesses, more people leaving the state, California public schools losing students, and a whole host of other problems, those in the GOP are seeing 2022 as the first time in quite a long time that Republicans are able to start to come back in the state.

And not only that, but many are pointing at setting up ways for a stronger future party.

A need for greater voter turnout was brought up by many at the Convention. “In California it’s about getting voter to give a damn,” said Mike Netter, the Campaign Supervisor for Attorney General Candidate Eric Early. “During the 2020 Presidential election, LA County had a record number of people vote for president. But the Attorney General race had only just over half that. Over a  million people failed to check a box three races down.”

Netter, as well as many others, noted that turnout is high when candidates or Propositions stand out, but not so on other races.

Signage at the 2022 CAGOP Convention (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

“A lot of people came out for propositions they cared about,” remarked one delegate to the Globe. “Prop. 16, the affirmative action one, comes to mind. A lot of people thought that would be a shoo-in because of how previous races went for turnout, but a lot of impassioned people came out and defeated Prop 16 handily. And that’s a big message: vote. Don’t just select the races and props you want then junk the rest. A lot of the largest decisions are made in some of the most local offices.”

“2020 had the largest turnout since 1952 in the state. That’s great. But that doesn’t mean anything if voters are only voting on one or two races. So it’s big that Republican candidates and their teams bring out the vote too.”

Netter also added that focus should also go to smaller races with important and powerful positions at stake, such as city leadership and the Attorney General, rather than just the bigger races.

“I challenge you to ask 10 people on the street who our current Attorney General is,” said Netter. “You’ll get one if you’re lucky. And they don’t realize just how important the Attorney General choice actually is.”

Increased diversity in the GOP

Another major point stressed by many at the convention, and one that many are proud to relate, is the rapidly increasing diversity of both the party and party candidates.

“For years, the GOP has held this stigma of being mainly white, maybe with a few Asian candidates, and only a few women,” explained Sharon, a convention guest to the Globe on Friday. “It’s not true, but that was what people thought. Look now. The worsening political climate and the natural diversification of California itself has drawn so many to the GOP that it can’t be ignored now. Not just race-wise either. A lot of women are running. The California GOP is actually making the Democrats look like the less diverse ones now.”

Tito, a volunteer for the Anthony Trimino for Governor campaign added, “California has a 38% Latino population. In a generation, it will be over half. Some Latinos, they hear of a candidate being a conservative Republican, they don’t want to hear it. But when I tell them that they are Cuban-Mexican, they’ll come back to listen.”

Multiple candidates and volunteers related stories that highlighted how conservative many Latinos are, especially those that are second generation or older.

“Those that initially come here don’t have much love for Republicans because they see them as the ones trying to bring them back or putting up walls to keep them out,” noted a volunteer for a County Republican Party. “But once in and established, you have business owners, heavy Catholics with strong abortion stances, and others who find a lot to like about the GOP. They’re a big part of the future of the GOP, and it’s already showing.”

A growing number of candidates and supporters have also been coming from the African American community, a longtime stronghold for the Democratic Party. Among those challenging Democratic candidates this June in the primaries are Allison Pratt, who hopes to take on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) in the 43rd and Joe Collins, a Navy Veteran  taking on Ted Lieu (D-CA) in the 36th.

“We need to listen to our communities,” stressed Collins. “The cost of living, gas prices, affording a place to live. That is affecting every Californian regardless of other differences.”

Others noted the strong, if not majority, female presence within the GOP in recent years, with many Republican women entering races at all levels, including Jenny Rae Le Roux for Governor.

“I came out to California with nothing but my belongings inside a Honda,” said Le Roux. “And now I’m a California Mom making a difference. California is a diversifying state. My son here is in a Charter school with Spanish classes, and there is Newsom in Sacramento with his children in private schools. He’s out of touch on the situation.”

Le Roux, Pratt, and others also took pride in the “Mom” title, saying multiple times in interviews that they are Moms running for higher office.

“A lot of women  are really going for the ‘Mom’ part of their lives, and it’s a pretty strong connection for many,” continued Sharon. “A lot of women know that mothers can handle a lot, and men know who really run things. I can see why so many are pushing it this year.”

Many Californian Republicans eye a comeback

Finally, candidates are being a lot more flexible in terms of where they fall ideologically, with many focusing on the economy, crime, cost of living, as well as other important subjects not brought up by other parties.

2022 CAGOP Convention floor (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

Eric Early, a candidate for Attorney General, noted the failure of Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta in multiple investigations and not looking into many others.

“I would investigate state entities big time. I would investigate the EDD losing $30 billion. I would investigate the no-bid contracts Newsom okayed. I would look into the alliance of the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) and Newsom.”

“In 2018 we had an Attorney General candidate debate, but so far this year we have had no debate. We need to debate these people. We need to question why they have not investigated these problems with the state.”

Candidates themselves also went into how the shift away from a solely moderate stance has allowed many new candidates to enter races.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

California Republicans are Convening. What to Know As the State GOP Tries to Flip Its Fortunes

The Republican Party has a storied history in California. The launching pad for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, the state remains home to many of the party’s wealthiest donors as well as nearly 5.3 million registered GOP voters (more than the population of 28 states). But the party has been in decline for many years, both in membership and ballot box success.

As California Republicans prepare to gather for their convention in Anaheim, here’s a look at the GOP, its upcoming electoral prospects and the stakes this weekend:

What’s the state of the GOP in California?

By the numbers, it’s dire.

Democrats had a nearly 23-percentage point voter registration edge over Republicans as of March. Voters who express no party preference have nearly caught up with the GOP in voter registration.

The Republican Party last elected statewide candidates in 2006 (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner). It currently holds less than a quarter of state legislative seats and less than a fifth of the state’s congressional delegation. Last year’s effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, which drew great enthusiasm among conservatives because enough voters signed petitions to qualify it for the ballot, failed by nearly 24 points.

Do conservative voters have any reasons for hope?

Despite its overwhelmingly Democratic tilt, the state is home to many conservatives. Former President Trump received more than 6 million votes in California in 2020 — the most of any state.

Republicans are hopeful because the GOP is widely expected to retake control of Congress due to President Biden’s low approval ratings, rising inflation and the historic trend that the party that controls the White House typically loses seats in the first midterm election during its tenure.

That means that Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, the current House GOP leader and a devoted Trump ally, has a strong shot of becoming the next speaker of the House — second in line for the presidency after the vice president. He would also take the speaker’s gavel from San Francisco Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is reviled among conservatives.

However, his prospects may have dimmed in the aftermath of audio released Thursday night that shows that four days after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol, McCarthy told top Republican House leaders that he planned to call President Trump.

“The only discussion I would have with him is I think [an impeachment resolution] would pass and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy says in the audio recording provided to MSNBC by the New York Times reporters who wrote a book that contains those details. “I mean that would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”

The New York Times first reported the remark Thursday; McCarthyissued a statement saying the reporting was “totally false.”

McCarthy is scheduled to address delegates on Saturday.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Newsom Is Weaker. Too Late For GOP?

The crime issue is teed up for her — and would be for GOP gubernatorial aspirants if they hadn’t buried the ball in the rough last year.

To use a golf analogy, the ball’s teed up for the Republican Party to contest Gov. Gavin Newsom. But it already swung weakly last year and shanked to the right.

There won’t be a mulligan — no do-over — on the foolish recall attempt that Newsom crushed by about 24 percentage points.

“After the recall, the ball’s definitely lying in the deep rough,” says Republican consultant Rob Stutzman, an avid golfer.

Newsom should be vulnerable on the issues of crime and homelessness, two separate polls showed this week. But there doesn’t appear to be a competitive Republican candidate around to take a good swing because the party wasted its shot in the recall effort.

Former San DiegoMayor Kevin Faulconer was warming up to challenge Newsom’s reelection bid this year. The Republican moderate theoretically could appeal to Democratic centrists, as he did in San Diego. But Faulconer felt compelled to enter the recall race and got swamped by right-wing talk show host Larry Elder.

Many Democratic voters ignored the contest to replace Newsom if he was recalled, leaving the irrelevant choice mainly to Republicans. And they overwhelmingly preferred the conservative who advocated zero minimum wage, opposed abortion rights and suggested that descendants of slave owners be paid reparations for loss of their ancestors’ property.

Elder was the showcase Republican. And his far-right positions probably tarnished the party image even further among Democrats and independents.

Faulconer lost to Elder by 40 percentage points. And that most likely cooled investor interest in helping to finance another Faulconer gubernatorial bid.

Elder quickly decided not to run again this year. But Faulconer has been seriously considering it, assessing whether he can raise enough money to be competitive. He probably can’t. But if the awful campaign grind is bearable, he might as well take a swing.

Newsom already has $25 million stashed and has unlimited potential for raising all he desires from interests, especially after his recall romp.

March 11 is the deadline for entering the race.

Right now, state Sen. Brian Dahle, a former Assembly Republican leader, is considered the GOP front-runner. He’s a good legislator who could handle the governor’s job, a likable seed farmer from the state’s northeastern corner.

But Dahle is little known outside his isolated district. And it’s very doubtful he’ll have enough money to get known.

Underlying the GOP’s debilities, of course, is its small voter registration that has plunged over the years. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in California.

But ordinarily with poll numbers like Newsom’s, even a Democratic governor would be sweating.

After several years in relative political dormancy, except as a sentencing reduction issue for Newsom and other liberal Democrats, crime has resurfaced as a hot campaign topic. It could affect state and local races — from governor to mayor and district attorney — in California and across the country.

A poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that registered voters’ approval of Newsom’s job performance has plummeted from 64% to 48% while disapproval has climbed from 36% to 47% since September 2020.

Those figures make things look worse for the Democrat than they probably are. Since the recall election last September, his approval has dipped only 2 percentage points and disapproval has risen 5.

But voters are unhappy with Newsom’s handling of crime and homelessness. When people get angry about crime, as happens cyclically, it historically has benefited law-and-order candidates, mainly Republicans. And we may be there again.

Only 20% of surveyed voters believe Newsom is doing a good job on crime, while 51% think he’s doing a poor job.

Worse, just 11% say he’s doing a good job on homelessness, an issue Newsom owns after all his rhetoric and the billions the state has spent trying to get people off the street. A whopping 66% says he has done a poor job.

“The homeless issue is out of control,” Newsom told reporters in May 2019. “It’s a stain on the state of California.”

In February 2020, he devoted his entire State of the State address to homelessness. Unprecedented.

“The public has lost patience, you have all lost patience and I’ve lost patience,” he said.

Yep.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

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

An Agenda to Make California’s GOP Relevant Again


CA GOPCalifornia’s Republican party has nothing to lose. They’ve lost every battleground district. The Democrats are going to do whatever they want in the Legislature. Corporate interests are cultivating competing factions among the Democrats. All the smart money is with the Democrats, because the Republicans don’t matter anymore. California’s GOP should seize this opportunity. This is a tremendous moment.

How often does any organization have the chance to experiment wildly, to try something radical, to risk everything, because they have nothing to lose? That’s what faces California’s GOP today. The GOP airplane is in a nose dive. Finding a pilot who will give the plane a soft landing, or prolong the time until the crash, accomplishes nothing. Push the throttle. Pull some Gs. Stress the airframe. Take a chance. Because otherwise you’re dead.

Trump, for all his tactless bombast and alarming disregard for convention in almost all things, has stimulated political engagement at a level not seen in the last 50 years. Trump’s ability to challenge the premises of America’s uni-party elite on the issues of trade, immigration, foreign interventions and “climate change,” along with his disregard for the pieties of libertarians and socialists, and his indifference to the encroachments of political correctness – all this may eventually be recognized as having had an extremely healthy impact on America at a critical time.

There are issues specific to California that can “make California great again.” It is not necessary for California’s GOP to select all of these issues. They can pick and choose. All of them address the greatest inequity that Californians confront, but never solve – the criminally high, utterly contrived, scandalously avoidable, punitive cost-of-living in this state.

To make California affordable again, a new, unafraid, assertive California GOP would have to rethink its ideological underpinnings. It would have to violate many socialist and libertarian taboos in favor of pragmatic choices reminiscent of 1950’s California, when vast sums of government funds were applied with an efficiency that makes mockery of today’s tangle of bureaucratic delays and interminable lawsuits.

For example. it isn’t heresy to use government funds, from bonds or operating budgets, to subsidize infrastructure. What’s needed, however, is a determination to set priorities that benefit the people of California, and a willingness to fight through waves of endless litigation to score precedent setting court victories. Doing this will help ensure that most of the money spent in subsequent projects will go to people who operate heavy equipment, instead of most of it paying people who sit in front of keyboards. Some of these priorities might themselves be heretical, or anathema to special interests, but here goes….

Education

Enact school choice. Don’t just fight a rear guard action protecting the beleaguered charter schools. Approve school vouchers and allow competition between traditional public schools, charters, parochial schools, and private schools. Quit tiptoeing around this issue. California’s public schools are failing. Turn the state into a laboratory for education, and let parents choose which schools their children will attend. A lot of pedagogical debates would be settled pronto, if principals and teachers were able to run their schools any which way they wanted, yet were held absolutely accountable by the parents.

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

Offer vocational training in the trades as an option for high school students after age 15, including private sector funded apprenticeships for high school credit. Look to the European systems for examples.

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 40-50 percent of college majors instead of the current 15-20 percent. In all publicly funded institutions of higher education, fold all of ethnic and gender “studies” majors into the traditional fields of history and sociology. Consolidate these majors and reduce the number of enrollments to make room for more STEM enrollments.

Get rid of all of the horribly misguided campus “safe spaces” and other malevolent hate-nurturing segregationist boondoggles. Stop appeasing the professional race hustlers. Tell the truth to people of color – California is the best place in the world to thrive, California is a tolerant, diverse society, and all this victim mongering will not make society better and will not make you successful or happy. Say this loud and proud and never back down. Fire the entire diversity bureaucracy.

Criminal Justice and Immigration

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.

Support comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes merit based legal immigration, and attenuates chain migration. Support something, anything, that squelches illegal immigration. If that’s not a border wall, then push for stronger employer verification. Quit agreeing with the Democrats. This is not a “manufactured problem.” It is not in the interests of American citizens, especially in low income communities, to continue to allow the entry of unskilled immigrants – legal or illegal – and the only people who don’t accept this are either denying basic economics or they are part of a special interest group. Come to some reasonable accommodation with ICE.

Transportation

Add at least one lane to every major interstate in California, and upgrade and resurface all state highways. Widen and upgrade roads up and down the state. Kill High Speed Rail.

Begin investigating and facilitating private sector rollout of next generation transportation solutions, including coordinating development of aerial taxi corridors as well as high speed “hyperlanes” for next generation smart electric cars. Prepare for the advent of flying cars, self driving cars, share cars, ride hailing, micro-transit companies, and high speed cars.

Water

Complete plant upgrades so that 100 percent of California’s sewage is reused, even treated to potable quality. Kill the Delta Tunnel(s) and do seismic upgrades on the Delta levees instead – that will have to be done regardless. Build a hatchery to replenish Delta Smelt.

Unlock water markets. If farmers had the right to sell their water allotments without risking losing their historical water rights, municipalities would never have shortages of water. It’s truly that simple, because California’s total urban water consumption – all of it, residential, commercial, industrial – is less than 7 million acre feet per year, whereas farmers in California consume on average over 30 million acre feet per year.

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. Support federal efforts to raise Shasta Dam. 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).

Work towards a grand bargain on water policy where environmentalists accept a few more reservoirs and desalination plants in exchange for plentiful water allocations to threatened ecosystems, farmers pay more for water in exchange for undiminished quantities, and taxpayers bear the burden of some new debt in exchange for permanent access to affordable, secure, and abundant water.

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 new natural gas power plants.

Promote nuclear power as a solution that not only makes the dawning electric age – from electric cars to rampant, exponentially multiplying bitcoin mining operations – utterly feasible. Nuclear power is only costly because permits and regulations and insurance premiums (mostly to insure against the cost of lawsuits, not actual hazardous calamities) are artificially elevated. Retrofit and reopen San Onofre. Keep Diablo Canyon on line and add capacity. Permit construction of “generation 3+” nuclear power plants and prototype micro-reactors.

Housing and the Homeless

Unlock open land for development. Quit acting like there’s not a single square mile of open space that isn’t sacred to the environment. California has over 25,000 square miles of cattle ranch land. If just one-third of that land were developed, California’s urban footprint would double. There’s plenty of room. Subsidize practical new public infrastructure (i.e., roads, not “light rail”) throughout new regions opened up for land development.

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. Cancel the war on the single family dwelling, and allow developers (or in some cases even require them) to build homes with large yards again. Repeal excessive building codes such as mandatory photo-voltaic roof panels. Create a regulatory environment that encourages private investment in new housing developments instead of discouraging it.

Allow police to enforce vagrancy laws, even if it means expensive corrective litigation going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Build inexpensive tent cities for the homeless. Some cities in California have already had success with this tactic. The corrupt and futile opposite extreme is to construct “permanent supportive housing” which in Los Angeles has cost over $400,000 per apartment unit.

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.

Once the California Rule is abolished, prospectively reduce pension multipliers to pre-1999 levels for all future work for all employees, existing as well as new hires. That, along with defending the reforms of PEPRA, might be all it would take.

Vision and Leadership Will Save California’s Republicans

Until California’s GOP is willing to embrace bold policies that will offer California’s struggling middle and low income communities opportunities for upwards mobility, they will remain irrelevant. It isn’t enough to “join together.” It isn’t enough to secure some reliable flow of donor support. To thrive, a political party needs to have a distinct vision of the future, a policy agenda that will achieve that future, and leaders that understand and can express that vision. Those qualities are more important than money. Meg Whitman proved that.

An important reason Democrats win is because they invariably speak with moral authority, whether they deserve it or not. But the moral worth of Democratic policies is shallow. In the name of earth justice and social justice, they have made California the most inhospitable place in America for low and middle income residents. The Democrats are incapable of compromising on their rhetoric or their policies. They are locked into the ideological straight-jackets of climate change hysteria and identity politics. The Republicans must demonstrate their ability to find the balance that Democrats are incapable of finding. They must promote and enact policies, some examples of which have just been described, that challenge some of the premises of environmentalism and social justice. There is a moral value to providing opportunity by making California affordable. There is a moral value to instilling pride by abandoning race and gender preferences. There is a moral value to embracing policies of abundance – by turning the private sector loose to increase the supply of housing, energy, water, et al. – rather than creating politically contrived artificial scarcity.

One very encouraging sign at California’s state GOP convention of February 2019 was how diverse the attendees have become. Democrats should find this very alarming, because the so-called “people of color” at the GOP convention were not part of the rent seeking coalition that Democrats have built, looking for reparations and entitlements to compensate for their supposedly disadvantaged status. These were confident, self-sufficient individuals, who valued the opportunity to compete and succeed on their own merits. There were hundreds of Latinos, Sikhs, Indian Americans, African Americans, Asians. More of them than ever, they came to Sacramento to be among fellow Republicans. This should not only trouble Democrats, perhaps it should also trouble establishment Republicans, because nearly all of them were enthusiastic Trump supporters.

If you were at the GOP convention last weekend, you could have talked to a Latino whose cousin has a ranch in the Rio Grande Valley. He would have told you why we need border security. You also could have talked to an African American grandmother who has watched hope return to members of her extended family, because they have good jobs in the Trump economy. These people are proud Americans. They don’t want to be patronized or appeased, and more and more, they see right through the Democrat’s game. They want the tough truth. Because honest hard work, reckoned by immutable and evenly applied standards, is the only true pathway to achievement. They are waiting for Republican leadership to fight to make California great again, not attempt to become Democrat-lite.

The themes that will capture new voters can’t just be marketed as “bold.” They have to be bold. There is an alternative vision, embracing solutions, not just identifying problems. It can incorporate some or all of the agenda just set forth. But it will mean launching a sustained assault on the government unions, the extreme environmentalists and their allies, the plaintiff’s bar, and the social justice fanatics that have taken over public education. It will require challenging not their lofty idealism or their proclaimed altruism, but their premises and their methods.

No, we are not running out of land, energy or water, and yes, we will entitle vast tracts of open land for development and build infrastructure including dams and desalination plants and encourage private sector investment partners.

No, if we don’t go “100 percent renewable” by 2050 the planet will not burn up, and yes, we will develop natural gas reserves and build nuclear power plants.

No, we will no longer admit unqualified students to colleges and universities, and yes, we will establish uniform admissions requirements, reserving our enrollments for the finest students in the world.

No, we will not tolerate mediocre results in our public schools, and yes, we will fight for school choice, vouchers, charters, and eliminate union work rules that prevent dismissing bad teachers and protect good teachers if layoffs occur.

No, we will not allow pensions to bankrupt the state, and yes, we will restore pension benefits going forward to pre-1999 formulas, and we will require California’s pension funds to invest at least 10 percent of their assets in California infrastructure projects.

For every no, there is a yes. For every problem, there is a solution. And the moral worth of these solutions must be asserted unflinchingly. These solutions will create opportunity for all Californians. Fighting for these solutions is risky. It will invite a furious response from the entire Democratic machine. But it could work. And it’s the right thing to do.

Edward Ring is a co-founder of the California Policy Center and served as its first president.

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 russo@winwithparamount.com or 831-595-8914.

Making the DMV Audit a Reality


dmv

Motorists across the state have had to wait in hours-long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register their vehicle or license renewal. Some have spent an entire day waiting in line. Upset drivers have flooded my office with calls and emails.

To make matters worse, DMV personnel mangled 23,000 voter registrations. How did this happen?

In 2015, Democrats passed the Motor Voter Law, directing the DMV to automatically register new voters, unless they choose to opt out. State Senate Republicans warned that this would be problematic. At the time, my colleagues and I expressed our concerns of adding to an already overburdened workload at the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV is the wrong venue to register new voters since this is not the agency’s area of expertise.

Three years later, we learn that tens of thousands of Californians have been registered to vote even though they did not want to be registered. The DMV also made “mistakes” that assigned some voters a different political party preference than the one they chose. We sincerely hope this was not a case of voter fraud.

Once again, the DMV is the state agency that just can’t get it right. It already has been criticized by the public for long wait times, which it blames on an antiquated computer system and the federal REAL ID law – passed in 2005 and set to be implemented by 2020.

Before the legislative session concluded in August, a group of Assembly Republicans called for an audit of the DMV. At the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit hearing, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto apologized for the long wait times, asked for more money and reassured lawmakers that the problem would be corrected by the end of the year. The request for an audit failed after some Democrats did not vote for it.

The public has lost confidence in the DMV.

It has mishandled its core mission, along with a long list of problems including the erroneous registration of voter affidavits. Something needs to be done to regain that trust. The best way to do so is for the DMV to undergo a nonpartisan audit, which would reveal the extent of its problems and suggest recommendations for fixing them.

Enough excuses. Let’s audit the DMV now.

California State Senate.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily