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Sparks flew at an afternoon California Republican Party committee meeting as party officials and delegates debated competing proposals to address the party's role in candidate nominations under the new top-two primary system.

CRP Chairman Ron Nehring is pushing a proposal to force pre-primary candidate endorsements under the new election system created by the voter-approved Proposition 14. Instead of party primaries, the top two vote-getters in an all-party primary now advance to a runoff election. A counter-proposal, introduced by GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy and GOP legislative leaders Bob Dutton and Connie Conway, would only allow for endorsements in specific circumstances.

Nehring and supporters say the party needs to retain its ability to identify a clear Republican nominee under the new system, while opponents say his plan puts too much power in the hands of a small group of local party officials and central committee members, who would effectively decide which candidate receives backing and financial support of the party.

A heated debate ensued late Friday afternoon when Nehring's amended proposal was heard by the Rules Committee. State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a member of the committee, stormed out of the crowded room after complaining that Nehring had compromised the integrity of the process by stacking the committee with members supportive of his plan and seeking to push the proposal through the committee without regard to the rules. After more than an hour of debate, the committee recessed until 9 p.m.

Here is a video by Hector Amezcua of remarks on the issue by Blakeslee and Nehring:



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