Thursday, July 25, 2013

The California Republican Party Won One Tuesday

The California Republican Party Won One Tuesday. They actually won a state Senate seat in the Central Valley. The California Republican Party was written off after the 2012 elections as irrelevant, moribund, dying. The once powerful California Republican Party, the home of Earl Warren, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, was decimated in 2012 as a combination of the rising Asian and Hispanic vote, which vote 70% Democratic, the shrinking Republican base, and the 2010 reapportionment. California had increasingly become a blue state delivering 55 electoral votes to the Democratic Presidential candidate; that is, 1/5 of the electoral votes needed for election. Prior to the 2012 elections, the GOP held 20 of the 53 Congressional seats, 27 out of 80 Assembly seats, and 15 of 40 state Senate seats. The legislative seats left the GOP in a minority position in the legislative, but enough to prevent any tax increases. A supermajority (2/3) is necessary in each House under California law to enact tax increases. The 2012 election was a wipeout for the GOP. It lost 5 Congressional seats to shrink to 15 out of 53. It dropped down to 12 Senate seats out of 40 and 25 Assembly seats. It also lost all 8 statewide elections. The Democrats had a supermajority in the California Legislature. The Republicans were irrelevant, barely posing a nuisance to the Democrats. The California Republican Party had become overwhelmingly white when the Caucasian population is a shrinking plurality. Its political base was San Diego County (usually), Orange County, the Inland Empire, and the Central Valley. However, the majority of California’s population lives along the coast from Los Angeles up through the San Francisco Bay Area – all solidly blue. Andy Vidal, a conservative Republican farmer from Hanford, won an open state Senate seat. The 16th District in the San Joaquin Valley is over 50% Democratic by registration and 63% Hispanic by population. Republicans comprise about 30% of the registered voters. Michael Rubio, the conservative Democratic incumbent, resigned unexpectedly on February 22 to accept a position with Chevron Petroleum Company. No Republican had held the seat in 19 years. It is tailor made for a Hispanic Democrat. Vidal almost won the primary, falling 115 votes short of a majority. Thus, Tuesday’s election. He won by roughly a 54%-46% margin, although not all votes have been counted. Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez was the Democratic opponent. She raised $2 million for her campaign, 95% from “special interests” in Sacramento; i.e. unions. The Central Valley is increasingly Hispanic, but as far as Silicone Valley, Hollywood, California’s tourist industry, and the Democratic Party bosses are concerned, the Central Valley is flyover country. The perspective of the Central Valley is that the powerful environmental movement is trying to put the farming industry out of business, using the Delta Smelt, an endangered species, as the means to cut off irrigation water to the Valley. Andy Vidal attacked Supervisor Perez for taking her campaign funds from the unions, and for supporting the environmentalists, all pillars of the California Democratic Party. He advocated bringing clear drinking water to the District. She had also advocated raising the California minimum wage to $9.25 from $8.00, which is meaningless when the unemployment rate is 15% in the district. She also supports the high speed rail train, which is increasingly recognized as an expensive boondoggle. Here’s the lesson for California’s Republican Party. They can win Hispanic votes if they have something to offer, if they reach out to them. Avoid the divisive issues (abortion, gay rights, and immigration), and campaign on the economic issues that matter to the voters. California voters are smart. The voters in San Diego and heavily Democratic San Jose voted overwhelmingly against the opposition of the public employee unions to rein in pension expenses. The Republicans need to offer voters a reason to vote for them. Ask Andy Vidal how to do it.

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