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photo (11).JPGAs the legal debate over Proposition 8 comes to a head in the nation's high court, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro predicted today that gay marriage will continue to be a "difficult issue for a lot of Republicans" for years to come.

Dozens of prominent Republicans, including former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, recently signed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 in her 2010 campaign, said in a statement that the "facts and arguments presented during the legal process since then have had a profound impact on my thinking" on the issue.

Del Beccaro, who supports Proposition 8, acknowledged that public opinion on gay marriage is shifting -- a Field Poll released this week showed support in California inching over 60 percent -- but said he expects GOP candidates to continue to hold different views on the issue. He said, however, he doesn't "think that issue alone defines the party by any stretch."

"I think the reality is you're going to find that the Republican Party is going to have members on all sides of this issue for years to come and I think across this country for years to come it's going to be debated," he said.

Del Beccaro is leaving his position at a tough time for the party - Republicans hold no statewide offices, now account for less than 30 percent of registered voters and have significant campaign fund debt.

The outgoing chair said the party must focus on building better relationships with voters as it rebuilds, increasing communication and providing "voters with a clear alternative." He said he hopes his expected successor, former GOP legislative leader Jim Brulte, will be more successful in fundraising and managing the party's finances.

"It needs to have a greater relationship with all California voters," he said. "We are in the business of asking people (for) their vote, which means you have to have a relationship with more voters, especially when you are the minority party."

PHOTO AND VIDEO CREDIT: Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro speaks at his final press conference during the CRP's spring convention in Sacramento, March, 2, 2013. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.



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