As the California Republican Party's semi-annual convention opened today, delegates representing the party's more conservative faction blasted GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, accusing her of backing away from positions she took in the primary on key issues.
Members of the California Republican Assembly, many of whom backed Whitman's GOP rival Steve Poizner in the primary, took aim at Whitman's stances on illegal immigration, taxes and Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative that would suspend the state's landmark greenhouse gas emissions reduction law until the economy rebounds.They warned her current positions could cost the entire GOP ticket votes in November
"There's almost nothing left of primary Meg," said Mike Schroeder, a former state party chair and past CRA president. "As long as that's the case, she's not going to get Republican voters to turnout."
Young Republican Federation of California President Adam Abrahms echoed Schroeder's concerns, saying while he would "absolutely" vote for Whitman, he thinks turnout could be a problem.
"The question is, how do I motivate my members?" Abrahms said. "One of those things is when a candidate stands for what they believe in, when a candidate doesn't walk the back and forth and when the candidate doesn't pander."
Republican Party spokesman Brian Seitchik said Whitman has been consistent on the issues and has strong support from party members.
"Republicans here at the convention and across the state are very excited for Meg Whitman's candidacy," he said. "What you had here was a small group expressing a minority opinion."
CRA members also accused Whitman's campaign of meddling with internal politics, enlisting delegate supporters to try to block a resolution in support of Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law and repeal an earlier to endorse primary candidates under the new top two primary system created by Proposition 14.
Whitman dismissed those claims earlier in the day, telling reporters her supporters were simply seeking to make their views on the issues heard.
CRA members held their press conference in the hallway of the San Diego hotel serving as the conference venue, a move they said was forced by the party not honoring their request for a room.
PHOTO CREDIT: Celeste Greig, president of the California Republican Assembly speaks to members of the press in a hall at the California Republican Convention in San Diego on Friday, August 20, 2010. The CRA wants Meg Whitman to take a more conservative view on immigration. Hector Amezcua/ Sacramento Bee