Southern California Republican Party Vice Chair Jon Fleischman has dropped his push to change the California Republican Party bylaws to bar decline-to-state voters from casting a vote in the Republican primary.
Fleischman, the publisher of FlashReport, wrote in a blog post today that he decided to withdraw his proposal because misinformation about the changes and its effects were causing fractures in the party.
"You had a bunch of people going around and telling people that if you adopt this change our party will lose elections because of it," he said in an interview. "I don't think it is a conculsive case because no one has the data."
The proposal came under fire from some Republicans who worried that the move could discourage independent voters, who now make up 20 percent of the electorate, from supporting Republican candidates. Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, called it "suicidal."
Maldonado issued a statement Friday applauding Fleischman's decision to withdrawal the proposal. He said the changes backed by Fleischman "would permanently damage the party and would weaken our chances at winning statewide in November."
Fleischman, however, argued that allowing decline-to-state voters to go to the polls in Republican primaries would weaken the core principles of the Republican Party in the long run.
"My concern is that if you don't give Republicans the responsibility for choosing their nominee, you end up with people in those positions who start to less and less represent the view of Republicans," he said.
Fleischman wrote in the post that his decision to pull back on putting the proposal up for a vote at the upcoming party convention does not mean he will stop pursuing the issue.
"The reality is that as long as someone can registered Decline To State and elect to vote in either major party's primary, we will continue to see the percentage of DTS voters steadily increase at the expense of party registration. Both political parties are going to eventually have to confront this issue head on."
He said in an interview that he plans to continue to advocate for allowing only registered Republicans to vote in GOP primaries, though by pulling the measure from this month's convention, he has missed the deadline for making the change before the 2010 primary.
This post was updated on Sept. 13 to include Maldonado's statement and an interview with Fleischman.