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Jim Brulte is making it official: The former Senate Republican leader said this afternoon that he is a candidate for chairman of the California Republican Party, a position he is widely expected to win.

Brulte told The Bee he will announce his candidacy tonight at a gathering of Republicans in San Diego. Following the announcement, Brulte will meet with a series of Republican groups throughout the state ahead of an election at the state party's spring convention in March in Sacramento.

Brulte was recruited by influential Republicans following a disastrous November election for the GOP, and his interest in the position was widely reported. California Republicans hold no statewide offices, and Republican voter registration has fallen below 30 percent statewide.

If elected, Brulte said he will try to repair the party's weak fundraising apparatus, recruit and help candidates and make voter registration gains.

"I want to be the nuts and bolts chairman," he said.

Brulte was endorsed last week by Jon Fleischman on the conservative blog FlashReport.

Asked about the party's platform - including positions on immigration and other controversial policy areas - Brulte suggested he is likely to avoid such fights, at least initially.

The platform is not up for a vote for three years, and Brulte said, "Ask me in the spring of 2016."


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