Thursday, January 15, 2015

CA GOP Senate Opportunity in 2016?

California Republican Party
The California Republican Party brand has slumped for the past decade. Conservatives remain strong in the Central Valley and the Eastern parts of the state, but statewide numbers have collapsed to beneath 30%.

While the National Republican Party has vastly improved image and influence, the California branch has made incremental gains. Putting aside the expensive disappointments of 2010 (Governor Moonbeam Brown returned to Sacramento, and US Senator Moonbat Barbara Boxer beat down former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina), and the graver upsets of 2012, (as Dems attained a supermajority in Sacramento, and flipped four House seats), bad times are getting better. CA GOP Chairman Jim Brulte outlined three goals in 2014: maintain the House Majority, end the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento, and build a stronger party structure. Mission Accomplished.
Boxer is retiring

Now, with Boxer’s retirement, California Republicans can profit from 2014 successes, rebuild from the prior failures, and assemble a statewide victory for 2016. Puzzling over who would run, another party rep reminded me that Republicans do face a long-shot bid. Why would anyone spend $50 million to run for a seat likely to lose? Money alone hasn’t make the difference (Meg and Carly).

Is a Republican representing California in the US Senate really a lost cause?

If CA GOP leaders can find the right candidate, good. But is there a party infrastructure in place that a candidate could thrive in? When raising a harvest, farmers follow weather conditions, till the soil, plant the proper seeds, then nurture the crop to fruition. The same is true for campaigning. I know of one successful example, whose model I would like to see expanded to the fifty-two counties, which could unify the CA GOP’s disparate county seats while building momentum behind one or two candidates for the top office in 2016.

Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance) assembled local leaders and activists to create the South Bay One Hundred, serving as an endorsement body as well as fundraising operation. Members contributed a set amount toward promoting a candidate for the 66th Assembly District in the South Bay, the #1 legislative target in 2014. With the outstanding support of the South Bay 100, Hadley pushed away a divisive primary, then launched a comprehensive, grassroots efforts with diligent volunteers. Letting his own business die in order to revive his party as well as this state’s future, Hadley combined strong consulting with the right political climate, followed by vigorous financing from Independent Expenditures, to defeat an incumbent Democrat.

Would it be possible for California Republican party leaders to replicate a similar model, connect with Central Committee Chairs and members to form their own endorsement body? Call it the CA GOP Senate PAC, or the California 1000. This organization would coalesce the diverse groups throughout the state, channel the political knowledge and connections into vetting, promoting, and then endorsing a US Senate candidate.

With this coalition of California GOP activists, plus a large reserve of campaign funding, state party leaders could approach interested (or interesting) US Senate prospects. Beyond asking them to run, the CA GOP Senate PAC would provide an endorsement package, a connected base of operations, and a reliable funding stream. Bringing in different teams would prevent divisive primaries, and embittered partisans, too.
Prof. Condoleezza Rice declined to run
Along with right conditions, proper ground game, well-connected operations, the CA GOP needs a good candidate. Former Secretary of State and Stanford Poli Sci Professor Condoleezza Rice topped my list, among many. A close friend sent my request to the stateswoman, but she politely demurred.

I know we'll have a good candidate .... and please thank Mr. Schaper for me and tell him that I'm honored by his appeal.  Political office isn't for me....”

Congressman Darrell Issa? The richest man in Congress also commands national celebrity, following his contentious yet spectacular Oversight Committee hearings. He has already said no. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer? Great campaign operator, but focusing on his own 2016 reelection bid. Perhaps another Congressman (Nunes, Rohrabacher, Valadao?) will consider a bid.

Carly? Looking back, she carried the same baggage that burdened GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney: former CEO with massive layoffs and a severance from dissatisfied stock holders. Besides, she’s running for President (and she’s a deadbeat, according to Debby Saunders).
Tom Del Beccaro
Former CA GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro has recently indicated interest. Prior CA GOP Chairman with strong connections, and syndicated columnist, he inspires confidence, but also reticence. Can he fundraise? Can he translate his backroom smarts into a front-porch campaign?

In comes Charles Munger, Jr. the wealthy physicist and Republican activist. He has invested time, money, talent, and credibility to a number of winning contests. His “Spirit of Democracy” PAC has helped revive GOP prospects in the state. He relates to politics front and back. But would he run for US Senate?

Before finding the ideal candidate, the state party needs to assemble a network connecting focused party leaders and activists with selected benefits (electing a Republican to the US Senate). With this strengthened unity combined with the battaille royale among ambitious Democrats, Republicans would have more than “California Dreamin’”, but becoming a reality of replacing Boxer in the US Senate.

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