Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CA GOP Strategy Reassessment: Assembly Districts

I have been looking over all the near-misses in California's Assembly races in 2014. Where was the Munger Money to help out these candidates?

Assembly District 21: Republican Jack Mobley lost by seven points, or 3,500 votes, to incumbent Adam Gray.

Assembly District 32: Pedro Rios lost to incumbent Rudy Salas by 4,000 votes in this district, which overlaps with Republican state senator Andy Vidak's district and Congressman David Valadao's seat (both won by ten points this year). Do not tell me that Republicans could not have swept through this seat in an off Presidential year.

Assembly District 44: Republican Rob McCoy lost to Jacqui Irwin for this open seat by four points. A difference of four thousand votes would have flipped this seat to GOP. This seat is another moderate swing district, once a Republican bastion, but now tilting Democratic. Jeff Gorell ran a spirited campaign, but came up short, too. What's going on?

Assembly District 48: Republican Joe Gardner lost by 9% to Roger Hernandez. He ran for the seat in 2012, as well. I know Joe personally as well as politically, and he had strong ambitions for winning this time. A major money shortage hindered his chances.

Assembly District 57: Republican Rita Topalian lost by 3% to Ian Calderon. Take another look at the district. Majority Democratic, heavily Hispanic, and yet a Republican came within three points of taking the seat.

What is it that our party leaders are not getting? What lesson do they need to be learning?

1. Registration should be only one of many metrics guiding whether to target a seat or not,

2. Strong candidates need campaign cash in order to compete effectively.

3. Policy undercurrents are shifting considerably in this country. Working class residents in California are growing alarmed by the immigration waves, and the strains on the welfare state and public school systems. Democrats are more than ready to support a Republican candidate if he or she stands for working people. Immigration, Obamacare, public sector union cronyism were heated topics which put Democratic candidates on the defense. Those issues can spring Republican candidates into stable wins for the future.

4. Why is the state party ignoring these otherwise winnable seats? Where is Munger and his money to prop up these strong candidates? Where are the independent expenditure groups to fund these able and willing candidates for the future?

The California Republican Party basically took back two seats which they never should have lost (AD-36, AD-65), plus to more (AD-16, AD-66). These results are so-so, but the state party can do better. Party leaders should not claim a major victory this year, but learn from the missed opportunities as well as mistakes and embrace an aggressive political offensive for 2016.

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