When it comes to the November elections, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro is banking in part on a poor performance by majority Democrats in Sacramento to push California voters to the polls.
Del Beccaro told reporters as the party kicked off its three-day convention in Burlingame today that the state's ongoing budget problems and a failure to enact pension reform will be a "black eye" for Democrats in the November election.
"They had the projections of how much money would be coming in, they had the obligation to pass a responsible budget that matched those forecasts and if they run out of money, its not going to be any one Republican's fault," he said of the state's budget deficit. "It's going to be squarely on the people in charge and that should send a signal to California voters on the issue of who's a good stewardship of thier money."
Though Del Beccaro called the pension proposal drafted by Gov. Jerry Brown, "timid" for his liking, but praised legislative Republicans for introducing bill language for the plan, saying they "threw the gauntlet down to the Democrats in the Legislature on the issue of pension reform." Democratic leaders have pledged to enact some sort of pension reform this year, but have not rallied around the governor's approach.
"What we're going to see is if California Democrats in the Legislature are serious at all about pension reform, because if they cant take this small step towards pension reform, that's going to be a huge signal to the voters of California that they are not serious about fiscal reform in this state," he said.
Though the state Republican Party's share of the electorate has continued to shrink, with the most recent tally showing just 30 percent of voters are registered with the party, Del Beccaro said the GOP is poised for a comeback in the state 2012.
He sees aligning GOP candidates with popular ballot measures, such as a proposed spending cap, as a viable strategy for increasing voter turnout among Republicans and picking up and protecting targeted seats across the state and said the party has been working aggressively to register more Republicans and reach out to voting blocs where he sees room for growth. He pointed to town hall style meetings targeting Asian-American, Latino and young voters on the Saturday convention calendar as examples of the outreach efforts he has launched in his first year as party chair.
"We simply weren't speaking to enough voters throughout this state, so we were going to get outside of Sacramento and do things where people live and talk to them in terms they understand," he said of his strategy. "This convention is sort of the showcase for that effort."