Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Sources of the 2014 CA GOP Divide

In his latest, Breitbart's Joel Pollack commented on the divided California GOP at the 2014 convention.

Some of his remarks were particularly noteworthy:

Voters in the Golden State have a sharply negative view of Republicans--a view that seems to have worsened over time, as the party's core constituencies--including small business owners and homeowners--leave the state, or find themselves outvoted by the Democratic Party's growing Latino base and stable left-wing urban core of support. 

What defines small business owners and homeowners in contrast to the rest of the growing Democratic demographics? That key word "owner" says it all. In a state where takers are taking over and the makers are making their way out of the state, this lack of ownership should signal concern for all Californians, on the make or the take: dependency does not create prosperity, but poverty.

Joel Pollak
 As a key example, New England has turned into a petri dish of socialism, with Rhode Island now a rogue's paradise of government graft and corruption. Massachusetts (bitterly referred to as "Marxachusetts" or "Taxachusetts" by disparaged conservatives) is losing more people than are entering. Rhode Island had to enact sweeping pension reforms (from a liberal Treasurer and state House Speaker who recently resigned in disgrace), and still the wealth creators are taking their skills elsewhere. Massachusetts conservatives are fed up, too, with intraparty fighting which turned the Mass GOP a Dem-lite party with socialist values tilting to the left of the MA Democrats.

 California is falling into the New England downward spiral, political infighting aside. Government expansionism, special interest cronyism, and the aggressive lobbying from left-wing groups (gays, greens, public sector unions) do not an ownership society create. These destructive influences have marginalized individual representation, and small businesses/homeowners have lost more than they can spare. With an urban core which thrives on government poverty, fed by government infiltration, Democratic supporters will retain their “stable” constituency.

Another element of business/homeowners is the culture of thrift and work, long denigrated by Hollywood and the Ivy League elites, and now rejected by the rising cohort of unemployed (and unemployable) college graduates. Imbibed on the political philosophies of conflict and envy, they now endure a wilting economy and political culture which cannot survive (let alone thrive) on one group just taking from another.

 Ownership, prosperity, success in every dimension of one's life (Republican virtues), do not materialize without wisdom and application. Entitlement as a motivation and grievance as an action produce moral decay, including the political dominance of the left-leaning Democratic Party in Sacramento.

How does a struggling state party reach these Democratic voters? Some in the party argue for going to the left on social issues (like Charlie MungerJr). Vocal conservatives (including the California Republican Assembly) argue for standing on principle, keeping bold colors to contrast with the Democratic Party, as opposed to the dull pastels of Democratic-lite.
Charlie Munger, Jr.

Where is the discussion about bringing back an ownership society in California? Where are the campaign slogans which expose the denigrating condescension of the Democratic Party, infiltrated by economic Marxists and cultural relativism? New arguments on promoting a way out (rather than staying down) can appeal to otherwise key Democratic constituencies without abandoning Republican principles.

Sadly, the only point of discussion from keynote CA GOP Convention speaker US Senator Rand Paul was social liberalism:

Though Rand Paul's emphasis on social liberalism, outreach to minority voters, and skepticism of foreign wars seem designed to appeal to California voters, it is far from clear that even that formula can win support back to the GOP.

Social liberalism is not economic liberalism, and will not promote the ownership society which has been the backbone of the GOP for decades.

Pollak identified another source of division within the California Republican Party, the disunity among statewide candidates, particularly Kashkari:

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), who lost to former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari in the primary election after being outspent in the closing weeks, declined to endorse Kashkari when asked by the Sacramento Bee, saying that he was endorsing "liberty." The party's two most hopeful statewide candidates, Ashley Swearengin (for Controller) and Pete Peterson (for Secretary of State) also declined to back Kashkari.

CA GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari
How did Donnelly lose, despite a months-long lead over the former US Treasury official? National Republicans poured in for Kashkari, and pushed down the Twin Peaks assemblyman. This divide is larger than the California delegation, including the national fight over whether the Republican Party will answer to the Chamber of Commerce or the Constitution and its constituents (We the People). Even former National Security Advisor and House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa supported Kashkari, perhps fearful that Donnelly (with strong rhetoric for individual liberties and against illegal immigration) would drag down the state and national GOP ticket.

Buoyed by hopes of a unified GOP ballot, Kashkari is not bringing up the ticket at all, since two key statewide contenders (both endorsed by mainstream media, unlikely yet true) will not endorse him. Why? GOP Controller candidate Ashley Swearingen supports the High Speed Boondoggle, and Kashkari has repeated his opposition to this outrageous waste. Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson boasts credentials with press and party, and perhaps does not want to limit his influence by backing a contender who won't beat Brown in November.

Kashkari himself, despite a great debate with the incumbent governor, further symbolizes in rhetoric and record this divide within the GOP. He supports same-sex marriage, and applauded Brown for not appealing the legal challenges to Prop 8. He also supports drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, even though he supports a closed border and putting kids first.  How can one craft an effective immigration policy with: "Go home, but you can drive while here?" Do Kashkari and the Amnesty Republicans think that illegal immigrants will drive home once they get a license?

Still, Washington Post conservative columnist George Will claims that Kashkari represents a 2.0 reboot of American conservatism. Aside from support for education reform, opposition to the "crazy train" and Brown's water storage nightmare, plus tax and welfare reform, the Republican gubernatorial candidate gets sidelined because of un-conservative positions on life and marriage, and other domestic policies. A mixed bag on the issues with a mixed (and missed) perception from voters, Kashkari the standard-bearer bears little resemblance to the party's standard.

Pollak differs:

The lack of support for Kashkari is striking, especially after Kashkari's strong performance earlier in September in his debate with incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown. It is unclear how supporting Kashkari would hurt either candidate. Voters do not have a particularly negative view of him, even if he is far behind Brown in the polls. Yet moderates and conservatives seem reluctant to back a losing candidate who stands for the party as a whole.

The reason why voters have no negative view of Kashkari is that they have no view of Kashkari at all, no knowledge of this candidate. Primary challenger Donnelly had more press coverage on ABC and CBS affiliates because as a lawmaker, he was not afraid to offer his arguments for or against.

Jim Brulte
These ruptures in party unity point to a third source of conflict: the current CA GOP chairman, Jim Brulte. 

Such is the lack of confidence among Republican leaders that Chairman Jim Brulte has privately called for fewer statewide gatherings, according to the Sacramento Bee. In addition, Brulte, according to Breitbart California political editor Jon Fleischman, has privately discouraged donors from backing the party's statewide candidates, instead urging that they focus on winning State Senate races to deny Democrats a supermajority.

In a meeting with Republicans in Torrance, CA,  the chairman pointed out three major goals for the CA GOP in 2014: maintain the Congressional majority in Washington, end the Democratic Supermajority in Sacramento, and improve statewide organization and outreach. Brulte made no specific mention of winning statewide office. It is no surprise, based on these priorities, that the chairman is lobbying for campaign cash in assembly and state senate races at the expense of statewide candidates.

Clearly, the CA GOP Chairman has fomented (inadvertently) division in two clear ways.

1. Chairman Brulte took union money to help shore up the CA GOP debt, which made statewide news last year. Unions are the political arms of the Democratic Party, and even if 40% of union members are Republicans, the money is not a voluntary donation, nor can anyone claim that this money does not come with strings attached. An Orange County Republican candidate, who had earned the endorsement of the local Lincoln Club

2. Brulte determined that the state party exists as a structure apparatus to support local and statewide candidates, but will make no strong determination on party platform. Consequentially, division has become the norm instead of the exception among Republican candidates, statewide or locally. For example, if candidates run for office along the coast, Brulte contended, then they could have more leeway on environmental or social issues.

With a shrinking core constituency, with a conflicted statewide standard-bearer, and a state party chairman whose financing and campaigning stand at odds with the party values and candidates, there is no question that the CA GOP is divided, and why.

What will heal the CA GOP divide(s)? Can a reinvigorated party structure, from the top down with unified leadership on the issues and campaigns, adapt the party to compete again? Or will disaffected conservatives, Republicans, and Independents have to form another party, one which represents individual liberty, economic freedom, and limited government in the state of California?


  1. Republican preachers of hate have run the party into the ground. When is the party going to have bold new leaders who unite instead of divide?

  2. QUOTE: "How does a struggling state party reach these Democratic voters? Some in the party argue for going to the left on social issues (like Charlie MungerJr). Vocal conservatives (including the California Republican Assembly) argue for standing on principle, keeping bold colors to contrast with the Democratic Party, as opposed to the dull pastels of Democratic-lite." Excuse me? I what universe does the CRA support anything conservative aside from pulling out Reagan quotes to make it sound like they ..."stand on principle"? The CRA is the face of Munger as much as IS is the face of Islamic extremism. They would sell theri own mother's soul to win elections over principle.

  3. One person comments that the GOP is the party of hate: what evidence supports this criticism?

    The other comment submits that Charlie Munger Jr. and the CRA are one in the same. The fact is that sources within the CRA are very clear about the opposition which they face from Munger.

    1. Arthur, thank you for setting the record straight re the CRA and Charles Munger. One of the CRA's top priorities right now is to "Support & Defend" the CRP platform to turn back Mr. Munger's ongoing attempt to remove conservative planks.

      Beyond that, to equate the CRA with ISIS goes so far beyond the pale...well, there are no words.

    2. Thank you, Todd, for your ongoing, respectful dialogue.

  4. I have been a Republican since Nixon ran for President in 1968. I will not be voting for governor or for a candidate in AD66. The GOP candidates don't share my social values and I will not vote for a candidate because they aren't Gov. Moonbeam or Al Murasutchi. Moonbeam will win in a blow out and David Hadley will lose by about 10%. I will not sell my principles for two candidates who have no hope of winning. If Hadley can narrow the gap to 2 or 3 percent by the time I cast my absentee ballot I will swallow hard and give him my X. I walked precincts for Craig Huey two years ago and the TLRA had a table setup at Wilson Park for Romney and Huey but nobody is manning a TLRA table so far this election cycle. In Nov. 2012 when the TLRA hosted Joe Arpaio here at the Double Tree we asked David Hadley, then leader of the Beach Cities Republicans, to help support our event, he just blew us off. What goes around, comes around.

  5. Great article...just one comment at this time. We have seen over and over again manipulations of our party and Republicans candidates' campaigns from local to statewide office by one or two financially wealthy persons who support only left leaning Republicans, shutting out great Republican candidates throughout the state of California. We really wish he would stay home and contribute to the State Republican Party allowing the People and Party Leaders to Decide who we want elected to office. Although don't know his motives, [it appears he's trying to "buy influence by controlling who gets elected throughout the state?"]...this Denys the fair and healthy functioning of the political process and is becoming more and more apparent this person has "con$ributed" to a "divided, unhappy, and sabotaged party." Now in all fairness, he may think he's doing good by "giving his money" for what he believes in. But when it sabotages the "healthy functioning" of the CA Republican Party and Candidate Choice of millions of voters, it's time to step back and take a "second thought" about what he's doing here.

    Additionally, we are really tired of people being "recruited" to our state to run for office when many have worked so hard in our state for many years to work their way up to run for statewide office, only to be "knocked out" of the race because of someone coming in from DC as if that gives them "senority" or "special privilege." This is Our State, and We the People Want to Run it!

    1. I understand your frustration. Thank you for sharing.