Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 28, 2014
California Republicans are shrinking. Here's where:


California Republicans are a shrinking group. But where are they diminishing fastest?

The Bee's data expert takes a county-by-county look at Republicans' share of registered voters.

Traditionally Democratic areas like San Francisco and Marin counties saw the largest proportional drop in Republican voters, writes Phillip Reese. No county in the state is now majority Republican. Only two small counties – Lassen and Modoc – increased the proportion of voters registered as Republicans over the last decade.

Read the post and check out the map for yourself here.

PHOTO: President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the Capitol in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Mitch Toll

March 24, 2014
GOP Senate candidate suffers another ballot setback


A fight by California Senate Republicans to qualify a GOP candidate for the ballot in the open 26th district appears to have stalled Monday, after elections officials again notified Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch that his paperwork was not accepted.

Mirisch submitted 49 signatures, 12 of which were originally deemed invalid by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. He needed to provide 40 valid signatures, spokeswoman Elizabeth Knox said Monday.

A single signature was later resuscitated, bringing the total valid to 38.

Mirisch's appearance on the ballot - alongside seven Democrats and one no-party preference candidate - would significantly alter the dynamics of the race covering coastal Los Angeles. At the least, a Republican likely would advance to the November runoff, and Democrats could be left without a candidate altogether in the fall.

Mirisch, aided by party attorney Chuck Bell, essentially argued that at least three households who signed for his campaign should have been allowed to have just one representative fill out their information such as a printed name and address.

The form requires that signers personally affix their own printed name, signature and registered address.

This is the second setback for Mirisch in as many weeks. Previously, he successfully sued state and county elections officials after they refused to accept his faxed candidacy papers. Mirisch was drafted by Senate Republican leadership on the eve of the deadline to run in the heavily Democratic district left open after Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, mounted a run to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Beverly Hills.

Mirisch worked as an executive at Paramount Pictures and previously oversaw international distribution for IMAX. The field of Democratic candidates includes former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, attorney Sandra Fluke, school board member Ben Allen, Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth and state surgeon Vito Imbasciani.

PHOTO: John Mirisch (City of Beverly Hills)

March 16, 2014
VIDEO: Boisterous GOP activists cheer Tim Donnelly

donnellycheered.jpgBURLINGAME - Boisterous party activists cheered Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly as he addressed the California Republican Party's biannual convention here Sunday, a demonstration of Donnelly's continued appeal to the party's conservative base.

"We can win in 2014," Donnelly said. "I need your help to retire Jerry Brown and replace him with Tim Donnelly for governor."

The crowd erupted in applause, with supporters yelling, "Tim! Tim! Tim!"

Donnelly's speech comes after a difficult week for his campaign. The Twin Peaks assemblyman remains severely underfunded, and his campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, left in recent days.

But conservative activists play a vocal role at GOP conventions, and the weekend gathering appeared to give Donnelly a lift.

Neel Kashkari, a better-funded, more moderate candidate, spoke before Donnelly and garnered more reserved applause. Two lesser known candidates, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount and Glenn Champ, who described himself as a "new breed of Christian soldier," also addressed the convention.

That the candidates would be allowed to speak at all was only determined last week. The party dismissed a proposal by Donnelly to debate Kashkari but offered speaking spots. They were invited to the podium moments after the gathering was officially adjourned, a measure that prevented any effort to endorse either candidate from the floor.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is cheered at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 16, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

California Republican Party convention coverage:

Kashkari is trying to build a bigger GOP tent

VIDEO: Donnelly told supporters the party needs to "reconnect with the church"

VIDEO: Both candidates addressed the Republican National Hispanic Assembly

Prominent actress helping Donnelly said she has concerns about campaign

March 15, 2014
Ashley Swearengin controller campaign managing 'excitement'


BURLINGAME — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin may be the best hope for California Republicans to reclaim a statewide office in November.

But the 41-year-old rising star of the party and candidate for state controller was taking things slowly here at the state GOP convention this weekend.

"We really want to draw attention to how important this office is for the things that we would like to see in California: Economic competitiveness and managing the state's resources," she said in an interview.

"It's just an often-overlooked position," she added. "As I've talked with people around the convention this weekend, and I start laying out all of the things that are included in the state controller's job description, everyone's eyes are getting big and they are starting to realize this is an important office."

Swearengin is running to succeed Democrat John Chiang, who is termed out and vying for state treasurer. Her primary opponents include Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, both Democrats.

Swearengin was re-elected as mayor in 2012. Tim Clark, her political consultant, told The Bee the campaign has received many unsolicited offers of help from donors and party activists.

"It's just been very exciting trying to manage this excitement," he said.

PHOTO: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin at the state GOP convention in Burlingame. Christopher Cadelago/The Sacramento Bee

March 15, 2014
Neel Kashkari says he'll help GOP build 'bigger tent'

kashkarireporters.jpgBURLINGAME — Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari dismissed questions Saturday about resistance to his candidacy from the party's most conservative activists, saying scheduling conflicts kept him from addressing a group of conservatives here.

"The Republican Party has a lot of folks inside the tent," he said. "I want to make it a bigger tent, so even more people are welcome. And I've really been pleased how I've been received by a very diverse group of Republican groups here at the convention and around the state."

Kashkari, a moderate Republican, is in a primary election race against Tim Donnelly, the tea party favorite. Kashkari was well received Saturday at meetings of young Republicans, Latinos and the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans.

Yet Kashkari is not universally popular at a convention where Republican activists sang "God Bless America" and marched through the hotel Saturday chanting "Taxed Enough Already."

"This is a place that Kashkari doesn't understand," said Mike Spence, president of the Conservative Republicans of California.

He objected to Kashkari's record running the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and to his vote for Barack Obama in 2008.

Kashkari told reporters he has been doing "a lot of conservative talk radio in the last couple months" and has been "really pleasantly surprised how well they've embraced me."

He said, "You know what Republicans want? They want their kids to get a good education, and they want a good job. That's the same thing that independents want. That's the same thing that Democrats want. I think we can unite Republicans and unite Californians around these messages."

Donnelly faces his own challenges within the party ranks, with many moderate Republicans viewing the strident conservative as a liability to the party's efforts to attract new voters.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari speaks to reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 15, 2014
Pete Sessions backs California GOP's path to rebuilding


BURLINGAME - Rep. Pete Sessions, the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, offered his support for the California Republican Party's strategy of focusing on key congressional and legislative seats rather than potentially spreading itself thin with competitive candidates in every statewide race.

"I would say to you that there are a lot of things about giving your team reason to believe that they can make a difference," Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, told reporters ahead of his dinner speech at the California Republican Party convention. "I believe, actually, by the (state) party winning seats ... that does make a difference.

"Putting a person in every single race is not an effective way to use your money or your resources," he added. "I think having great candidates with a good message, and going and organizing and talking about the huge success that Barack Obama and the Democrats are having to turn our country into a welfare state, makes a lot of sense to me."

California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte described his party's strategy Friday as putting the icing on -- not actually baking the cakes. The three-pronged approach calls for helping retain Republicans' House majority, working to eliminate the Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature and building a "farm team" of local GOP officials.

Republicans also are targeting a handful of House Democrats including Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, Julia Brownley of Westlake Village and Scott Peters of San Diego.

Critics of the California GOP's approach suggest the lack of marquee statewide candidates could harm candidates in more competitive down-ticket races. But Sessions said Democrats' defense of the health care overhaul speaks to their insistence on following "shrill liberalism and dogma" and will lead to their downfall.

"That is not a way to make life better and the Republican Party will add to our numbers because of that," he said.

PHOTO: Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks Saturday at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame. Christopher Cadelago/The Sacramento Bee

March 15, 2014
Condoleezza Rice says U.S. must maintain military strength


BURLINGAME - Condoleezza Rice said by weakening its military muscle abroad the U.S. leaves a vacuum that will be filled by the likes of nationalists in China and terrorists in Iraq.

Harnessing Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength," the former U.S. Secretary of State said America must lead to lessen the world influence of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Vladimir Putin in Russia.

"I know that people are tired. I know that after more than 10 years of war and terrorism and engagement abroad it sometimes doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel," Rice told a lunchtime gathering of the California Republican Party on Saturday. "We can think 'Oh, let someone else do it.' But nobody else will."

"In sustaining our role abroad we will be safer and more secure here, too," she added.

On Sunday, Crimean residents are set to weigh in on a referendum that could lead to their joining Russia from Ukraine, or becoming independent.

Rice, a professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, told the audience that California, too, is in need of a rebuilding of sorts. She called for the state to embrace the principles of individual responsibility and liberty, private sector-led growth and a private space that is respected by, and in which people "respect the choices of each other."

Said Rice: "California has always had a certain sheen, a kind of exceptionalism of its own."

PHOTO: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks to the delegation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, on Aug. 29, 2012. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/ MCT)

March 15, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly wants candidates who 'stick to their guns'

donnellyscrum.jpgBURLINGAME - Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Saturday that the California Republican Party needs to "reconnect with the church," rallying conservative activists in his primary contest with Neel Kashkari.

"Elections are not just about connecting with people," Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, told a meeting of conservatives at the California Republican Party's biannual convention. "I believe we need to reconnect with the church."

For Donnelly, no audience is more sympathetic. The Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate is a tea party favorite and has the endorsement of the conservative California Republican Assembly in the GOP's longshot bid to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.

Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, is preferred by many members of the party's donor and professional class for his more moderate social views.

Donnelly, facing ongoing controversy surrounding his own gun use, including pleading no contest to two misdemeanors after carrying a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport in 2012, remained unperturbed.

"If you know that there's a group that has not been voting because they're not inspired, and because we don't have candidates who are willing to at least stick to their guns," he told the conservative group, pausing. "Oh, did I just say that?"

The room erupted in laughter and applause.

"It's all right," Donnelly said. "You can clap."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly speaks with reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 15, 2014
Ron Nehring rips Gavin Newsom for supporting pot legalization


BURLINGAME - Republican Ron Nehring, a candidate for for lieutenant governor, issued a forceful rebuke of marijuana legalization on Saturday, saying advocates of decriminalizing the drug are putting children in harm's way.

"Anyone who thinks that this is only going to be limited to adults needs to put the crack pipe down because that is simply not reality," Nehring said at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame.

Colorado and Washington thrust the issue onto the national stage when the states legalized marijuana.

At the convention, Nehring, the former state GOP chairman, stood beside a poster quoting Gov. Jerry Brown from a recent appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." In that interview, the Democratic governor questioned how California could be expected to prosper while people get stoned.

"I think Jerry Brown is exactly spot on," Nehring said. He called for a debate on pot with Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who favors legalizing the drug.

"If Gavin Newsom is not willing to debate me, then perhaps he would be willing to debate Gov. Brown," Nehring said. "And maybe they can have a debate on high-speed rail while they're at it."

Despite Nehring's concerns about the "social costs," of increased drug use, Californians appear to be turning a corner on marijuana. The Field Poll from December -- for the first time ever -- found clear majority support for legalization. Eight percent of voters supported allowing anyone to purchase cannabis and 47 percent said it should be available with the types of controls that govern alcohol sales.

PHOTO: Republican Ron Nehring speaks at the California Republican Party Convention in Burlingame. Christopher Cadelago/The Sacramento Bee

March 15, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly, Neel Kashkari make pitches to Latino Republicans

kashkariblount.jpgBURLINGAME - Neel Kashkari told Latino Republicans on Saturday that he is making Spanish-language media a priority in his campaign for governor, while his GOP rival, Tim Donnelly, said "we have to stop pandering" to different segments of the electorate.

The candidates' remarks, to the California Republican National Hispanic Assembly, came as Kashkari and Donnelly sprinted from caucus to caucus, lobbying delegates at the California Republican Party's biannual convention. The Hispanic group is significant to a party attempting to overcome years of failure appealing to Latino voters.

"The first TV interview that I did was on Univision, and it ran statewide," Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, said. "And they asked me, they said, 'Why are you coming to Univision first?' I said, 'Because I want your viewers to know they're not an afterthought, they're my first thought.'"

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and tea party favorite, took the floor immediately after Kashkari.

"I think we have to stop pandering, thinking that there's a different message because of someone's skin color, because the colors of freedom are red, white and blue," he said. "What I believe people want is they want to live free, and they want to get the government out of their way, so that we can all enjoy the bounties of liberty."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidates Neel Kashkari, left, and Andrew Blount at a dinner at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 14, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 14, 2014
California Republicans let media see one gubernatorial candidate, not another

GOPsigns.jpgBURLINGAME - After letting reporters listen to remarks from one Republican candidate for governor, Neel Kashkari, county chairmen at the state party's biannual convention Friday closed the room for the speech given by another candidate, Tim Donnelly.

The move visibly frustrated Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, who had wanted the meeting to be open press.

He said afterward, "That's tweetable, right there."

Mark Pruner, president of the county leaders' group, said later Friday that momentum had been building throughout the day to close the meeting to the media and had only to do with Donnelly holding a later speaking spot than Kashkari.

County chairmen, he said, "were concerned about what the press would write ... It kind of built up, built up, built up."

The state party comes into the weekend laboring to reverse decades of decline. No Republican holds statewide office, and the GOP has seen its voter registration fall to less than 29 percent statewide.

"This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for over two decades in this state," Jim Brulte, chairman of the state party, told reporters. "We have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands."

Donnelly and Kashkari met in passing Friday, and they shook hands, while Kashkari and a third candidate for governor, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, engaged in friendly conversation at a dinner.

"How are things? Things are good? Kashkari said to Blount.

Blount said they were.

"How about you, man?" he asked Kashkari. "I see your signs everywhere."

PHOTO: Supporters of rival gubernatorial candidates Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari post signs beside each other at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 14, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 14, 2014
Democrats meet Republican convention with a digital prod

fightfortheright.jpgCalifornia Republicans open their biannual convention in Burlingame on Friday, and the state Democratic Party is lobbing over a digital stink bomb., a website posted Friday, features images of the two main Republican candidates for governor standing nose to nose in a boxing ring under the headline, "The Confrontation for the Nomination."

On the left is "'Wall Street'" Neel Kashkari. On the right, "Tim 'Tea Party' Donnelly," a Twin Peaks assemblyman.

The site criticizes Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, for his role overseeing the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, though many Democrats supported the measure.

It calls Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate, the "designated flag-bearer for 'true conservatives' in Golden State."
The site pokes both candidates for missing voting in several previous elections.

Tenoch Flores, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party, called the site a "voter education tool."

Donnelly and Kashkari are expected to have major presences at the convention. They and a third Republican candidate, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, are all expected to address delegates Sunday.

PHOTO: Image from , a website posted by the California Democratic Party on Friday, March 13, 2014.

March 11, 2014
No debate, but Kashkari, Donnelly get speaking spots at GOP convention

kashkaripressclubscrum.jpgNeel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly may not be debating at the California Republican Party's annual convention this weekend, but they will be offered speaking spots, Jim Brulte, the party chairman, said Tuesday.

Neither candidate was previously listed as a speaker. They are expected to address delegates Sunday, the final day of the convention.

Brulte said he heard from candidates "this morning, for the very first time, three days before the start of the convention" that they would like to address delegates. He said he told them, "Makes sense to me."

The announcement comes a day after Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and tea party favorite, challenged Kashkari to a debate at the gathering of party activists in Burlingame. Both Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, and party leaders dismissed the invitation.

Mark Standriff, a spokesman for the party, said, "The CRP doesn't involve itself in discussions between primary candidates in a contested race."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari, a Republican candidate for governor, speaks to reporters after addressing the Sacramento Press Club on March 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

October 1, 2013
California Republican Party pays off more than $1 million in debt

Jim_Brulte_Rich_Pedroncelli_AP_030313.JPGThe California Republican Party, which was essentially broke as little as seven months ago, is debt free after paying off more than $1 million in debt, party chairman Jim Brulte said Tuesday morning.

The announcement, which the party was expected to make to members today, comes as the party prepares for its biannual convention in Anaheim this weekend.

Brulte, a former state Senate Republican leader, was elected chairman of the party earlier this year in an effort to revive its brand in California. The party holds no statewide office and has seen voter registration fall statewide below 30 percent.

When Brulte took over the party, he called his job "more like a bankruptcy workout." At the time he put the figure at as much as $800,000.

Brulte initially underestimated the amount the party owed. In addition to paying off its debt, he said the party has also re-opened an office in Sacramento.

PHOTO: Former state Sen. Jim Brulte speaks with reporters after being elected as California Republican Party chairman during the CRP convention held in Sacramento on March 3, 2013. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

September 26, 2013
Teachers union, SEIU open wallets to California Republican Party

seiuprotest.jpgOne of the reasons Republicans elected Jim Brulte to be chairman of the California Republican Party earlier this year was their faith, among other things, in his ability to raise money.

The former Senate Republican leader is well connected to the donor class, and the party has raised more than $3 million so far this year.

In recent days, those contributions have included an unlikely source: public employee unions.

On Tuesday, Service Employees International Union Local 1000 donated $15,000 to the party.

A California Teachers Association political action committee donated $10,000 earlier this month. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association donated $3,000 to the party in August.

It has been years since these large public employee unions opened their wallets to the state party. The peace officers made donations in 2005 and 2007, and the teachers gave the party $10,000 in 2004.

Labor officials said Brulte has met with their members this year, and that the donations reflect a tentative effort by unions to work with the GOP.

Brulte said, "I reach out to everybody" and that with Republican voter registration under 30 percent in California "you've got to get outside your comfort zones."

However, he noted that the unions that gave money to the party include Republican members, not just Democrats.

"These Republicans have encouraged their leadership to be more bipartisan," he said. "Their leadership is trying to be a little bit more bipartisan. We think that's a good thing."

The donations are unusual, but not large. For bigger contributions the party has Charles Munger Jr. The Republican activist on Wednesday donated another $597,982 to the party.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1:25 p.m. to include Brulte's remarks.

PHOTO: Members of Service Employees International Union Local 1000 rally at the Capitol on Wednesday, July, 1, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

August 29, 2013
Whites a minority in California, but still majority of voters

ELECTION02.jpgAlthough whites have dropped to well under 50 percent of California's population, they are still a strong majority of the state's voters, according to new studies by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The PPIC reports also confirm the state's shift to dominance by the Democratic Party, even though its share of registered voters has declined to well under 50 percent - largely because the increasing numbers of independents lean Democratic.

The statistical studies of the partisan leanings of the state's registered voters, as well as likely voters, were generated from both official statistics and PPIC's polling.

PPIC's research found that while whites are now just 44 percent of California's adult population, they are 62 percent of the state's likely voters. In contrast, Latinos are 33 percent of adult population and just 17 percent of likely voters. With all ages counted, the white and Latino populations are virtually equal at about 38 percent each.

As past studies have shown, likely voters are "older, more educated, more affluent; they are homeowners, and born in the U.S."

Another finding: 45 percent of likely voters are Democrats, 32 percent are Republicans, 19 percent are independents and 5 percent identify with other parties. But 41 percent of independents lean toward Democratic Party candidates, while 29 percent lean toward Republicans.

PHOTO: Caption: Naomi Johnson, 93, never thought she would see the day that a black president might win as she left the voting booth where she cast her vote for Obama on Nov. 4, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

July 24, 2013
Republican National Committee hires California state director

Priebus.jpgThe Republican National Committee announced Wednesday that Clinton Soffer will become its first California state director.

He joins new state directors in 11 other states -- Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin -- as part of a new RNC investment a year ahead of the 2014 elections..

California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte said the state party anticipates Soffer will work as a state field representative in their ground campaign to engage more voters.

"We're rebuilding the California Republican party from the ground up," Brulte said in an interview. "In order to do that, we want a very close relationship with our county parties but also with our national party."

In a statement, RNC chairman Reince Priebus said hiring state directors will allow the party to build "the most expansive field program the GOP has ever seen...Republicans have never made this kind of investment in an off year. The RNC will be in communities engaging with and listening to voters where they live, work, and worship-not months, but years before Election Day."

Soffer, 23, most recently worked on San Diego City Council member Scott Sherman's staff after managing his campaign in the primary election.

Soffer also ran former San Diego Assemblyman and Republican leader George Plescia's ultimately unsuccessful campaign to unseat Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego in 2012.

He graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor's degree in political science. While in college, Soffer was the state chairman of the California College Republicans.

PHOTO: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gestures while speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, March 18, 2013. Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta

June 4, 2013
John Burton, Jim Brulte spar over crime, campaigns and fate of GOP

photo.JPGIndependent campaign expenditures are corrupting politics and young voters are reshaping California's electorate by eschewing parties.

Those were points of agreement in a talk between practiced adversaries John Burton, chair of the California Democratic Party, and California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte during a Tuesday morning panel at an American Association of Political Consultants conference.

The talk began with a discussion of whether California has become a one-party state, given Democrats' legislative supermajority and control of every statewide elected office. Brulte, a former state senator who readily acknowledged his party's woes as he campaigned to lead California Republicans earlier this year, pointed to "failure to recognize changing demographics" and said Republicans have been too reluctant to venture into communities outside of their traditional power base.

"If we want to be successful we have to get outside of our comfort zone," Brulte said. "Too many Republican party leaders or Republican elected officials spend all their time talking to the choir."

May 14, 2013
VIDEO: Republicans react to 2013 California budget revision

gorellrevise.JPGRepublicans in California have taken to aligning themselves more with the fiscally cautious budget priorities of Gov. Jerry Brown than with their Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, and party leaders had some tentative praise for the governor's revised 2013-2014 budget on Tuesday morning.

Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chair Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, said it was "appropriate for the governor to have conservative revenue projections" given that a surge of surplus revenue is "probably short-lived." But he criticized Brown for moving to scale back enterprise zones, saying the proposal would undercut businesses who had "relied on this program in good faith," and called on the governor to dedicate more reserves as a cushion against a future downturn.

"To truly preserve the legacy for any sort of austerity for the governor, he needs to identify a very hard and fast, solid rainy day fund into which revenues are placed when they come in over projections so we can use those to buffer the peaks and troughs or the fits and starts of California financing and budgeting we've had over the last twenty years," Gorell said.

April 2, 2013
Vote on California historic sites splits on partisan lines

ChavezObama.jpgPurely in terms of symbolic value, a bill honoring Cesar Chavez with a "California historical landmark" soon after the famous labor organizer's state holiday carries some significance.

So the fact that every Republican on the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee voted against a bill doing just that was a source of some consternation on Tuesday .

"It seemed like a pretty emphatic gesture," said Marc Grossman, a spokesman for the Cesar Chavez Foundation who once served as Chavez's aide.

Assembly Bill 34, authored by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, would list Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, the Kern County headquarters of Chavez's United Farm Workers movement, as a historical landmark. The bill also would direct the state to suggest at least five additional candidates for inclusion on the California Register of Historical Resources based on their role in the civil rights struggle, labor movement or modern state history. The bill made it out of a committee on a 10-5 party line vote.

March 14, 2013
California Republicans invite Democrat to assess state of GOP

Jim_Brulte_Rich_Pedroncelli_AP_030313.JPGIn a bit of cognitive behavioral therapy -- or masochism -- leaders of the California Republican Party have invited a Democratic strategist to a retreat this weekend to tell them, more or less, how bad they are.

The strategist, Garry South, has been highly critical of the Republican Party's inability to adapt to California's changing demographics, among other failures. Republicans hold no statewide office, and party registration has fallen below 30 percent statewide.

"It's a pretty depressing presentation if you're a Republican," South said. "So I may have a doctor on hand to issue Prozac prescriptions."

South and former Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte, the new chairman of the state Republican Party, are colleagues at the government affairs firm California Strategies, and for several years they have made joint presentations to various groups about politics in California.

"For years, I've read and listened to Garry South's diatribes against Republicans, sometimes when he was sitting at my elbow on panels," Brulte said in an emailed statement. "I thought I would put him to the test and see if he would be willing to say the same things in a room full of Republicans, to their faces. To my surprise, he agreed."

South said his presentation to CRP board members in Ontario on Saturday will include no advice about a potential recovery, only an account of how low the state Republican Party has fallen.

"I don't think it's helping them," South said. "It's the same presentation I've given to everybody from the dentists to the insurance agents."

South chuckled, said he's looking forward to it and added, "I'm wearing my bulletproof vest."

PHOTO CREDIT: Former state Sen. Jim Brulte talks with reporters after being elected as California Republican Party chairman during the CRP convention held in Sacramento on Sunday, March 3, 2013. San Francisco County Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon, left, was elected as the party's vice chairperson, the first woman to hold the position. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli)

March 8, 2013
Latino Republican group touts California election wins


California Republicans spent a big chunk of their party convention last weekend discussing how to make inroads with Latinos, and a group devoted to nurturing candidates said this week it has made progress.

GROW Elect, an organization that seeks to identify and help promising Hispanic conservatives running for public office, touted its role in three local elections: Ray Marquez, who won a seat on the Chino Hills City Council; Art Vasquez, who became Asuza's new city treasurer; and Jack Guerrero, who won a city council seat in the city of Cudahy.

Vazquez and Marquez got $1,000 apiece in addition to general campaign coaching, while GROW Elect donated $5,000 to Guerrero's effort, GROW Elect consultant Luis Alvarado said. In a press release, GROW Elect president president Ruben Barrales said the organization is particularly proud of Guerrero's victory.

March 3, 2013
Jim Brulte elected California Republican Party chairman

photo (13).JPGCalifornia Republicans elected former GOP legislative leader Jim Brulte as the party's new leader this morning.

Brulte, who served in the Legislature until 2004, faced no serious opposition in his bid to become California Republican Party chairman. He replaces Tom Del Beccaro, who decided not to run for a second term after a rocky run as chair.

Brulte is taking over at a low point for Republicans in California. Republicans currently hold no statewide office and account for less than 30 percent of the state's registered voters. They lost key congressional races and ceded supermajority control of the state Legislature to Democrats in the 2012 election.

Brulte says he wants to focus on "blocking and tackling" - seeking to revive the party's fundraising, voter registration and turnout programs. Supporters passed out buttons with a picture of nuts and bolts before the vote at the general session of the party's spring convention.

He plans to continue his day job as a principal of governmental and public affairs firm California Strategies as he assumes the volunteer chairman post.

Republicans also elected San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon as vice chair.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Brulte talks to California Republican Party convention attendees before heading into the general session where he was elected chairman. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.

March 2, 2013
Republican leaders emphasize Latino recruitment

Recruiting more Latino candidates is critical to the future of the California Republican Party, prominent Hispanic Republicans said during an afternoon forum at the party's convention in Sacramento.

The event was hosted by GROW Elect, an organization devoted to cultivating Republican Latino candidates for elected office, and participants spoke to a growing recognition that the Republican party's fortunes will be increasingly tied to how well they appeal to Hispanic voters.

Noting that California's Latino population is on pace to become the state's largest ethnic group by the end of the year, GROW Elect CEO Ruben Barrales called Latino outreach "the greatest challenge for the Republican Party today." His organization's goal is to build a "farm team" of potential officeholders, he said, in an effort to "start changing the brand of the Republican party with Latino voters."

March 2, 2013
Abel Maldonado: 'I'm not going to give up on California'


For a man who said he has not made any decisions about running for public office, former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado had some strong words Saturday about California's outlook.

March 2, 2013
Karl Rove tells California Republicans to step up communication

California GOP Rove.jpgGOP strategist Karl Rove today urged California Republicans to take a more broad-based approach to messaging in their effort to rebuild the party in the Golden State.

"Losing has one great benefit to it," Rove told a gathering of delegates at the party's spring convention in Sacramento. "It gives you the chance to start fresh to look everything anew and start rebuilding from the ground up in innovative and thoughtful ways that will expand our reach and expand our members."

California GOP officials invited the former aide and adviser to former President George W. Bush to address attendees as they seek to recoup from a bruising 2012 election. The party, which holds no statewide office, ceded supermajority control to legislative Democrats, lost key congressional races and dipped below 30 percent in statewide voter registration.

Rove echoed earlier remarks on the need to elect Latino and other minority candidates to local and state offices, telling state Republicans they need to go beyond talking to their traditional base. He praised Republicans in his home state of Texas for recruiting diverse candidates for statewide office, saying it's important to have Republican messengers who "look like and sound like the people they're asking for the vote from."

"If our values are universal then we have obligation to argue on behalf of values in every corner, in every crevice, in every community of our great country," he said.

Rove also urged Republicans to modernize their message, applying "timeless principles" of conservatism to new circumstances.

"It's not just the tactical stuff," Rove said. "(We've) got a strategic issue. We have great principles, but we sometimes talk about those princples in a way that makes it sound like it's in 1968 or 1980 or 2000 and it's not. It's 2012 on its way to 2014."

Rove met with county GOP chairs, Republican legislators and posed for photos with delegates at a $300-a-head reception ahead of his lunchtime speech. Lawmakers said he stressed the need to improve campaign technology and messaging efforts.


Karl Rove goes to California GOP convention dogged by new controversy

Karl Rove addresses CA GOP county chairs

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican strategist Karl Rove speaks to the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento on Saturday AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli

March 2, 2013
Outgoing CA GOP chair: Gay marriage is 'difficult issue' for GOP

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.

March 1, 2013
Kevin McCarthy on 'House of Cards:' Don't believe what you see

mccarthy.pngAfter a talk and Q-and-A session that touched on sequestration, immigration and the future of the beleaguered California Republican Party, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy turned to a topic that has had politicos in the beltway and beyond buzzing for weeks: "House of Cards."

The Netflix series, which centers on the often unseemly political and personal dealings of a power-hungry fictional U.S. Representative named Francis Underwood, has become a must-watch program among political junkies.

McCarthy, who like the show's lead character serves as House majority whip, recalled meeting with actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Underwood, before the series began.

"He keeps calling my office and wants to know if I'll sit down with him. I'm saying no because I know it's not going to turn out well for me, right?" he told an audience at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon today. "Well then they tell me he's going to play a Democrat. I said, 'Sure, come on in!"

February 15, 2013
Ben Shapiro to speak at California Republican Party convention

Conservative commentator and writer Ben Shapiro has been added to the agenda for the California Republican Party convention.

Shapiro, who is the editor-at-large of, will fill a dinner speaking slot that was originally set to feature GOP strategist Karl Rove. Rove's talk has been moved to the Saturday luncheon because of a scheduling conflict.

Shapiro won praise from the right for a heated exchange with CNN's Piers Morgan, posted above, in which he accused the host of being a bully on gun control and "standing on the graves of the children" killed in the December mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary schools.

The party had been seeking to book a speaker who would appeal to conservatives in light of a rift caused by Rove's newly announced Conservative Victory Project, a super PAC that has come under fire from Tea Party supporters. Former GOP Senate leader Jim Brulte, who is expected to be elected chairman at next month's convention, told The Bee this week that the party extended an invitation to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, but that a scheduling issue prevented the freshman senator and Tea Party favorite from accepting.

Other speakers at the spring convention, which takes place in Sacramento during the first weekend in March, include conservative comedians Eric Golub and Evan Sayet, author Travis Brown and former GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who moved to Texas to take a job with a think tank after leaving the Legislature.

The Saturday night keynote speech was the subject of some confusion this morning, after an initial email to members identified the guest as Ben Stein. That email, which led with a riff on the actor's role in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," was soon followed by a message clarifying the actual lineup.

"Clearly, somebody other than Ferris Bueller needs a day off. :-)" Chairman Tom Del Beccaro wrote in the second message.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post misspelled The Bee regrets the error.

February 13, 2013
Brulte: California GOP debt could be as high as $800,000

20130213_HA_JimBrulte028.JPGTo rebuild the California Republican Party, Jim Brulte will first have to climb out from under a mountain of debt.

The former GOP Senate leader, who is expected to take helm of the embattled party next month, said Wednesday that the CRP is between $500,000 and $800,000 in the red, a figure he says could vary based on the potential for legal battles with former vendors.

"This is more like a bankruptcy workout," Brulte said of setting up party infrastructure as chairman. "First of all you have to pay off your debt, hopefully while you're doing programs simultaneously. We have to increase our income and reduce our expenses, that's just prudent."

January 24, 2013
Karl Rove to headline California Republican Party convention

Rove Rage.jpgThe California Republican Party is turning to GOP strategist Karl Rove, the "architect" of former President George W. Bush's political campaigns, as it works to rebuild its own brand in the Golden State.

The party has tapped Rove as the keynote speaker for its spring convention in Sacramento, which will take place the first weekend in March. He'll address members at a Saturday night banquet at the Hyatt Regency.

Rove, who served as a senior adviser and chief of staff to Bush in the White House, has more recently been the figurehead for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two groups that have spent millions backing GOP candidates across the county.

The convention will mark the first official gathering of GOP operatives and delegates since the 2012 election, when Democrats dominated at the polls. Voters ousted several GOP congressional incumbents, gave Democrats a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature and approved a $7 billion tax measure backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. The GOP's share of the electorate fell to less than 30 percent of registered voters.

Former GOP Senate leader Jim Brulte is expected to take the reins as party chairman in leadership elections conducted during the convention. Many within the party are counting on him to improve the party's fundraising and prospects for political success.

PHOTO CREDIT: Then White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove listens as President George W. Bush, not shown, speaks with reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington in this April 2, 2007, file photo. AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert.

January 14, 2013
Jim Brulte confirms bid for California Republican Party chair

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.

November 1, 2012
California GOP chairman opts not to run for another term

The chairman of the California Republican Party has decided not to seek another term at the helm of the state GOP.

Tom Del Beccaro announced in an email this week that he will not run in the party's spring elections, saying he has decided "it is time for me to pause from Party politics."

Del Beccaro, who was elected chairman in March of 2010 after years of GOP leadership positions on the state and county level, said in an interview that he will focus on finishing two books related to politics and other endeavors that will allow him to "influence ideas hopefully at a national level."

"After 10 years of volunteering, that's just where I want to be and that's where I get the most energy," Del Beccaro, 51, said. "Not long ago I spent like an entire day on the book projects and I was happy the whole day. It's just what I love to do."

August 28, 2012
VIDEO: California Republicans, a liberal Canadian and a karaoke bar

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - The rain cleared Monday night, and a handful of Republicans made their way to a karaoke bar at the beachfront resort where the California delegation is staying for the Republican National Convention.

There sipping wine was a left-leaning vacationer from New Brunswick, Canada, who objected to both the politics of the Republicans and their music.

"We believe in all these kind of things Republicans don't believe in," said the Canadian, Marlene Whitehead, including public health care, gay marriage, and "gun control - Oh, my God."

Her more immediate concern was the delegate singing "My Way." A karaoke bar, Whitehead said, is no place for sad songs.

If the Republicans could not accommodate Whitehead's politics, they were more than happy to pick up the beat. A round of beers came from the bar, and Frank Sinatra's catalog was left behind.

On stage, Kevin Krick and Sashi McEntee, current chairman and past chairwoman, respectively, of the Marin County Republican Central Committee, took up "The Time Warp," made famous by "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

"That was happier!" Whitehead said. "And you know what? I don't know who this girl is, but she can sing."

May 3, 2012
California Republican Party: Call us 'Party of Yes'

MC_GOPTAX_04.JPGAfter years of being labeled the "Party of No" by majority Democrats, California Republican leaders stood under rainy skies Thursday outside the Capitol to dub themselves the "Party of Yes."

The newly christened party kicked off its campaign by asking for a "no" vote on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike. California Republican Party leaders organized the press conference to launch a statewide "whistle-stop tour" just as Brown had finished collecting signatures for his $9 billion tax initiative.

"Jerry Brown is turning in his signatures as we speak to make that (top tax rate) the highest rate in the country," said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro. "We think that's the wrong way to go."

Standing next to a "Party of Yes" banner proclaiming "yes" on jobs, solutions and tax relief, they said the governor's plan would drive businesses and residents out of the state. They promoted their own budget proposal, which relies on deep cuts and one-time revenue maneuvers but does not raise taxes.

Del Beccaro wouldn't say how much he expected the cash-strapped party to spend against the governor's measure. "I'm not concerned about the cost," he said. "We're using alternative media. We're out there with volunteers. We're the party of volunteers, and we're going to continue to pursue that."

Some of those volunteers included about a dozen Tea Party Patriots who showed up in support of the GOP campaign launch. Patrick Wagner, a 60-year-old Grass Valley retired surgeon wearing a red Tea Party shirt, said he and his wife, Terry, wanted to speak out for "fiscal responsibility and getting our economic freedom back."

"The whole notion of taxing to try to find a way to correct the budget, it just doesn't work," he said. "We can't tax our way out of this kind of a horrifying position."

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, took particular issue with comments made at Thursday's event by Assemblyman Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach. The lawmaker said, "I've always felt that the people that work should live better than the people that don't work."

Silva was correct that California has a disproportionate share of the nation's welfare-to-work recipients, largely because the state still provides aid to children after their parents have exhausted their own time limit. But Wright pointed to recent state cuts that have already shrunk the time limit to four years and dropped cash grants below 1988 levels.

"What they're saying 'yes' to is additional cuts to education, health care and other vital services," Wright said. "And what they're saying 'yes' to are their millionaire backers."

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway speaks from the steps of the state Capitol as California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro listens on Thursday, May 3, 2012. Manny Crisostomo, Sacramento Bee

March 28, 2012
Tehama GOP pulls party chair's speaking invite over endorsement spat

There's no need for Tom Del Beccaro to R.S.V.P. to the Tehama County Republican Party's upcoming Lincoln Reagan Dinner.

The northern California GOP group publicly uninvited the state party chairman to its May gathering this week, citing a split over endorsements in the newly drawn 3rd Assembly District.

"The TCRP, by unanimous vote, has affirmed that our speaker must be someone that upholds our adherence to Republican values and principles," Chairman Ken Say wrote in a letter to Del Beccaro. "Unfortunately, we no longer believe that you meet that criteria and have voted to invite speakers that the TCRP believe to meet that standard."

Members of the Tehama group are upset that the state party's board of directors opted to endorse Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, over Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, the candidate who won the county party's endorsement. In an open letter circulated Tuesday, Say accused the party board of violating its own bylaws by invalidating his group's endorsement.

"We, the Tehama County Republican Party, at the local level, will continue to support the Republican candidates that represent our best interests and not some unknown person picked by a "star chamber" in an illegal procedure," Say wrote.

Del Beccaro defended what he called an "unprecedented" endorsement process created in response to the state's new primary system, saying in a statement that the "overwhelming majority of decisions the party made were well received."

"There were exceptions - proving the adage that you cannot please everyone, especially in politics," he said in the statement. "Going forward the Party will move toward a more broad based process that will engage Republicans voters directly."

March 3, 2012
California GOP spokeswoman suggests pundit is a 'slut'

California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns suggested on Twitter on Friday that a pundit who criticized Rush Limbaugh for calling a law school student a "slut" is herself one, touching off a flood of criticism on the social networking site.

"Stripper, or strategist?" said Kerns, who posts on Twitter as @CAPartyGirl. "Democratic strategist on MSNBC raging against Limbaugh, her name is supposedly 'Krystal Ball.' Speaking of #sluts ..."

Ball, an MSNBC contributor, was a failed congressional candidate in 2010, in an election in which suggestive photographs of her at a party years earlier surfaced.

On Twitter, Democrats criticized Kerns for her remark and moved swiftly to capitalize on it.

"Wow," wrote Gov. Jerry Brown's press secretary, Gil Duran. "Sure seems like one of those 'apologize or resign' moments to me."

Kerns wrote, "C'mon, it is a sense of humor. Woman to woman, I've never called anyone that. If I offended Krystal in any way, that was not my intention."

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro called the Tweet a "mistake" but came to Kerns' defense.

"She knows she made a mistake," he said this morning. "She apologized for it."

Kerns' Tweet came the same day President Barack Obama made a supportive telephone call to the Georgetown law school student Limbaugh criticized on his radio show. The student, Sandra Fluke, had testified before Congress in favor of birth control coverage.

On Twitter later Friday, Ball addressed Kerns' Tweet.

"I call Rush out for slut-shaming and in response, CA GOP spokesperson @capartygirl calls me a #slut," she wrote. "Ah the irony."

February 26, 2012
California GOP OKs new conservative group after floor fight

No political convention would be complete without at least a splash of floor drama.

The California Republican Party voted to formally recognize a new conservative organization today after a procedural floor fight that included debate, voice votes and a person-by-person count of the delegates gathered at the Burlingame Hyatt Regency for the party's spring convention.

Conservative activist Mike Spence created the Conservative Republicans of California in the aftermath of a divisive leadership fight at the California Republican Assembly, a 75-year-old group that bills itself as the "conscience of the Republican Party." The charter allows the new group, which includes several GOP legislators, to use the party's insurance policy, reserve space at the convention at a lower cost and assign one delegate to vote on party matters.

Spence's effort to place a vote to charter his new organization on Sunday's general session agenda stalled in a committee earlier in the weekend. CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro initially tried to block his move to bring up the issue on the floor as the end of the session neared. A voice vote on whether to take up Spence's motion was too close to call, leading Del Beccaro to ask opposing camps to congregate in different areas of the hotel banquet room so the votes could be counted without a roll call. Del Beccaro, who had argued that the procedural issue should be worked out in a committee, was out-voted by delegates and the charter was approved after continued debate on the merits of the group.

Critics of the proposal argued that Spence had not complied with the party's procedure for approving new groups.

"This would be a unanimous consent vote if they had complied with all the (chartering rules)," said Tom Hudson, a CRA vice president.

Supporters, including Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner, said the party should not turn its back on Republican groups at a time when it needs to grow its membership and get its message out.

The procedural dust-up came after the party approved the adoption of a conservative platform, a subject of much internal wrangling when it met last fall, with little fanfare. The platform includes language on abortion, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration sought by conservatives. A more moderate proposed platform had been blocked by a committee at the party's fall convention.

In addition to voting to endorse and oppose several ballot measures, the party took up a package of resolutions that included one opposing Speaker John A. Perez's proposal to change a corporate tax formula policy to raise $1 billion to provide tuition breaks to middle class students attending California's public colleges and universities. Perez will need support from two Republicans in each house of the Legislature to win passage of the plan. While GOP members of the Assembly voted for a bill to undo the corporate tax break, which was approved as part of a budget agreement in 2009, the Senate GOP leader has expressed opposition to the proposal.

February 26, 2012
California Republican Party endorses auto rate initiative

The California Republican Party today voted to endorse a November ballot measure that would allow auto insurers to consider a motorist's coverage history in setting rates for new customers.

Supporters of the measure, which was filed by the executive director of the Alliance of Insurance Agents & Brokers, say it will allow companies to offer "loyalty discounts" currently only available to existing customers, to motorists who want to switch plans. Critics say it will allow companies to raise rates on Californians who experience a lapse in coverage.

The measure is almost identical to Proposition 17, a failed 2010 initiative bankrolled by insurance giant Mercury General. The company has not contributed to this year's version.

The party also endorsed proposed measures that would require parental notification and a waiting period for women under the age of 18 seeking abortions and roll back a new law requiring public schools to include instruction of the historical contributions of gay individuals. Backers of both must collect hundreds of thousands of valid voter signatures in the coming weeks to qualify for this year's general election. Party delegates opposed by voice vote all three tax measures proposed for the November ballot.

The party previously voted to oppose the two measures that will appear on the June ballot, a cigarette tax hike that proponents say will raise money for cancer research and a change to legislative term limits.

February 25, 2012
Gingrich hits Obama on energy policy, gas prices at GOP confab

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich assailed President Barack Obama on gas prices and energy policies as he sought to fuel support among California Republicans today.

"If you want $10-a-gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary and weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate," the former House Speaker told a crowd during a luncheon at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Energy and gas prices have become a hot issue on the campaign trail amid rising prices at the pump. The average price of gas -- now at $3.58 a gallon -- has increased by 25 cents since the start of the New Year. Gas at a 76 station down the street from the convention site started at $4.49 a gallon.

Gingrich, who rolled out a pledge to drop gas prices to $2.50 a gallon earlier this week, spent much of the appearance responding to a speech on energy Obama delivered at the University of Miami earlier this week. The Democratic president dismissed calls to focus on expanding drilling, saying the country "can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Instead, Obama said his administration is pursuing an "all-of-the-above strategy" on energy that includes solar, wind, gas and oil power.

Gingrich quoted extensively from the president's Friday speech and previous statements related to energy policy. He criticized the speech as "factually false, intellectually incoherent, deeply conflicting in policy and in some places, just strange."

Gingrich touted his energy policy, which includes upping  domestic oil production and greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline XL project, as a way to reduce reliance on foreign energy sources and lower the cost of fuel for Americans. He said his proposals will cut back on regulations and lead to more economic growth. 

He did not directly call on California to expand drilling off its coast, but said he thinks "each state has to make its own decision." He added, however, that under his proposal to give states 50 percent of the royalties from the arrangement "Sacramento would start thinking seriously" about the issue.

Absent from the speech were mentions of his opponents, who are campaigning elsewhere this weekend ahead of Tuesday contests in Arizona and Michigan. Gingrich, who has suffered losses in recent primary contests and slipped to 12 percent support in a Field Poll of California voters released this week, said he came to the state GOP convention to demonstrate his commitment to building a national campaign. He said he does not believe any candidate will have a "lockdown" on the nomination by the time California Republicans go to the polls June 5.

February 24, 2012
Herman Cain expected to appear at California GOP Party confab

Herman Cain.JPGCalifornia Republicans gathered for the state party convention in Burlingame are expected to hear from a surprise guest this weekend -- former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

"I'm proud to say there's a 99.9 percent chance -- did you get that, 9-9-9?-- that Herman Cain will be here," party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro told reporters at a press conference opening the three-day convention, referring to the former candidate's 9-9-9 tax proposal.

Cain, who dropped out of the race in December amid allegations of sexual harassment, is expected to appear alongside presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame on Saturday. The former House Speaker is the keynote speaker at Saturday's lunch banquet.

Del Beccaro said conservative radio host and commentator Michael Reagan is also expected to join.

Former presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, is scheduled to address convention attendees during the Saturday dinner program.

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain speaks during a GOP presidential debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/ Paul Sancya)

February 24, 2012
Del Beccaro: Budget, pension reform will be 'black eye' for Democrats

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." 

February 7, 2012
Newt Gingrich to speak at California Republican Party convention

Gingrich 2012_JPEG-0b455.JPGPresidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is bringing his campaign to California later this month.

The former House Speaker has agreed to speak during a Saturday luncheon at the state Republican Party convention, which runs from Feb. 24-26 in Burlingame.

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro praised Gingrich as "one of the most dynamic figures in GOP politics over the last 50 years" in a statement, saying he will bring "energy and vision to the Convention during a critical election year."

Despite recent losses in Nevada and Florida, Gingrich has pledged to continue his campaign against rivals Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul through the national nominating convention. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, holds a lead in the delegate race as Republican voters in Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri make their picks today. The next contests will be held in Arizona and Michigan on the Tuesday following the CRP convention.

The party's prospects for attracting a presidential candidate had been uncertain given California's late primary date. Gingrich California Finance Chair Eric Beach said in a statement that the decision "illustrates the importance of California as a key Primary state this election cycle."

CRP spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said the party has also reached out to other presidential contenders with speaking invitations, but has not heard confirmation either way from the other camps.

Presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Minnesota Rep. and former presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann addressed delegates at the party's fall convention.

Pete Wilson endorses Mitt Romney, to serve as California chairman
Del Beccaro: GOP 'food fight' will help nominee against Obama
Top Rick Perry surrogate in California now backing Newt Gingrich
See all The Bee's Election 2012 coverage

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at The River Church, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

January 31, 2012
California Democrats post fundraising, voter registration edge

California Democrats are starting 2012 with an $8.7 million fundraising advantage and 13-point voter registration edge over their rivals in the Republican Party.

The cash edge was reported in year-end campaign finance filings released Tuesday. The California Democratic State Central Committee ended 2011 with $9.3 million in the bank, after raising $2.77 million in contributions in the final three months of the year. The California Republican Party came close to matching Democrats in contributions, raising nearly $2.34 million, but reported having just shy of $439,000 cash on hand due to heavy spending on an effort to repeal the new state Senate maps via a referendum drive.

The campaign cash numbers were reported on the same day as Secretary of State Debra Bowen released updated voter registration figures showing that Democrats continue to hold a 13-point lead statewide, 43.63 percent to 30.36 percent. Both parties saw slight declines in registration in the last year, while the percentage of voters registered as decline-to-state rose to an all-time high of 21.24 percent.

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro downplayed the registration numbers in a statement issued by the party, saying that Californians continue to show their support for the party by voting for fiscally conservative measures on the ballot. He said that he expects the party to make gains in closing the registration gap ahead of the 2012 election.

Democrats didn't seem too worried about that prospect.

"With these kind of numbers, I think California Democrats can really start to get used to the Del Beccaro era," CDP spokesman Tenoch Flores quipped.

January 25, 2012
Will GOP recruit 'prominent name' to challenge Feinstein?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has yet to attract a top-tier opponent in her 2012 re-election bid.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro signaled today that a high-profile GOP challenger to the 78-year-old Democrat could still emerge. He said a "number of people" have expressed interest in the race, with final decisions expected in the coming weeks.

"Right now, point blank, there isn't someone, a major name that has agreed to it," he said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau.

"But I think her polls show that she is vulnerable, and we are hoping to find someone who will break out of the pack," he added. "But as of yet, point blank, I'm not going to snow you, we don't have someone who has made it clear, who is head and shoulders above the rest or a very prominent name."

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez became the latest Republican to express interest in the race this week. Ramirez, who ran in the GOP Senate primary last year, announced yesterday that he is opening an exploratory committee and starting to raise money for a run.

Ramirez said that while he is "fairly called a long shot-challenger," he believes the new top-two primary system will help him in his effort to become the state's first Hispanic U.S. senator.

"Hispanic voters, Republicans and Independents understand faith, family and hard work," he said in a statement. "We should come together to uphold the values of freedom that make America great, but there hasn't been a voice to speak to and for each of these sides. It is a void I believe I can fill to put California back on the right track."

Other Republicans currently expected to run are Elizabeth Emken , an advocate for children with autism and 2010 congressional candidate, and Orly Taitz, an activist perhaps best known for her disproved assertions that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

January 25, 2012
Del Beccaro: GOP 'food fight' will help nominee against Obama

Will blue California be a battleground in the November presidential election?

While the Golden State will almost surely go for President Barack Obama in the general election, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro believes that the competitiveness of the race will force the Democratic president to raise -- and spend -- more money in California, diverting time and resources from other key states.

"It will look like a competitive race for a long time, and then I think in the last month things will slip away from Obama, and it's going to require him to spend money in places he otherwise would not want to spend," Del Beccaro said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau today.

"I'm not predicting to you today that we're going to carry California, but I think (Obama) has trouble here, and I think that allows us to provide resources and do other things around the country that will eventually lead to his loss," he added.

Del Beccaro, who has not endorsed a GOP candidate in the presidential race, said he believes it is too early to tell who would give Obama more trouble in California. But the state's top GOP official said that once the "worst of their food fight" for the nomination is over, the battle-tested GOP nominee will be better positioned to defeat the president.

"One of the benefits of this intramural affair is that it forced the Republican candidates to get very definite on what their plans would be, whereas Obama going into the fall is not going to have a plan because his plan is, involves government spending and that's not going to be able to sell," Del Beccaro said.

"He'll have a hodgepodge of we want to do one, or two or three things here, or what you saw last night (during the State of the Union), but it's going to be vague. So I think the detailed plan beats the vagueness in a difficult situation," he added.

That "intramural affair" between GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich could extend through California's June 5 primary, giving the state's Republicans more sway in the nomination process, Del Beccaro said.

"If they continue this constant process of debates, then I think it's possible," he said.

Watch a video from Del Beccaro's interview below or check out our Capitol Alert's Facebook page for his answers to questions from our readers. Pick up tomorrow's Bee to read a Q&A with the party chairman.

January 17, 2012
GOP responds to Jerry Brown's address before it's given

Republican legislative leaders rolled out their response to Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012 State of the State address Tuesday, slamming the Democratic governor for telling Californians that the"sky will fall" without higher taxes.

"Today Governor Brown shared his vision for California for the year ahead," Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway says in a video. "Republicans were eager to hear his ideas for the many challenges facing our state. Unfortunately, the governor's vision is centered around one thing: higher taxes."

The only thing is Brown hasn't shared that vision yet.

January 13, 2012
California GOP taps Jennifer Kerns as communications director

The California Republican Party has a new spokesperson heading into the 2012 elections.

Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro announced today that it has hired GOP political consultant Jennifer Kerns as its communications director. She replaces outgoing communications director Mark Standriff, who is leaving the post after two years to work as a communications adviser and consultant to candidate campaigns.

Kerns, who runs K Street Communications, has represented the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, the 2008 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage and the campaign against a failed 2009 tax initiative in recent years.

Del Beccaro said in a statement that she "brings not only an unrelenting desire for our Party and for its goals to succeed, but also a great deal of creativity that will help us drive our message in 2012."

Standriff will remain a consultant to the party. Del Beccaro said his "tireless" work to help the state GOP reach more voters has helped the party in "immeasurable ways."

September 20, 2011
GOP to state voters: Kill Senate maps or brace for tax increases

Here's the pitch to GOP voters: Unless newly drawn state Senate maps are killed, Democrats will seize control of the Legislature, raise taxes and kowtow to public employee unions.

The California Republican Party is sending a letter to a million voters, reading: "Your signature on the enclosed petition will stop liberal Democrats in Sacramento from tripling the car tax and dismantling Proposition 13."

The letter and petition are key elements of a referendum campaign to kill California's 40 new state Senate districts, which were drawn for the first time this year by a 14-member citizens commission rather than by the Legislature.

The group coordinating the signature-gathering campaign, Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting, or FAIR, has raised about $500,000 thus far -- primarily from GOP interests, records show. Voters would decide the fate of the Senate maps in an election next June if 504,760 valid signatures are collected by Nov. 14.

Many political analysts have said the new districts give Democrats a strong chance of gaining two additional seats in the Senate, enough to gain a two-thirds majority. Prospects of doing so in the Assembly are cloudier, analysts say.

The GOP letter is more emphatic: "If allowed to go into effect, this redistricting scheme will give liberal Democrats a two-thirds majority and the one-party rule they have dreamed of for years," it said.

September 18, 2011
California GOP committee blocks more moderate platform

A push to adopt a more moderate California Republican Party platform was was defeated in the final hours of the party's fall convention in Los Angeles today.

The proposed language, which downplayed traditional GOP positions on gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage, had come under fire from conservatives. Supporters had argued that the changes emphasized jobs and the economy and presented the party's issue stances in a way that would appeal to more voters.

The plan, backed by wealthy GOP donor Charles T. Munger Jr., failed to win approval from the CRP Platform Committee Sunday afternoon.

The committee instead approved an updated version of the current state GOP platform, which includes more detailed language sought by conservatives.

"The platform committee reversed the horrendous decisions of the drafting committee and restored core principles of the party platform," said Mike Spence, a leading critic of the more moderate plan. "It's proof that people that care about issues can beat money."

September 18, 2011
Bill Simon on the politics of love

LOS ANGELES -- At a prayer breakfast at the California Republican Party's fall convention here this morning, Bill Simon, the conservative businessman and former candidate for governor, was reminiscing about his decision in a campaign speech nine years ago to say he loved his wife.

The crowd was full of women, and Simon, who would go on to lose to Gray Davis, thought mentioning her might help.

One of his political advisers, Jake Menges, didn't think so.

"When I got back in the car, Jake said, 'Never say that again,'" Simon said.

"And I said, 'Well, why Jake?'

"He said, 'Because anybody, any politician who says he loves his wife, everybody assumes in the audience that they're having an affair.'"

September 18, 2011
Fred Karger pledges to remain in race for long haul

He's running far behind in the polls, but Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger told supporters Saturday he's got no plans to give up his bid to be the first openly gay man elected to the White House.

"I'm not going anywhere. I will be in this," Karger told a small group of supporters gathered at a reception held by the Log Cabin Republicans during the state GOP convention in Los Angeles.

The California Republican, who received just one vote in the GOP straw poll conducted yesterday, said low overhead for his "lean, mean" campaign operation and ongoing support from his backers will give his bid longevity. He said he has received thousands of letters encouraging him to continue his campaign and push to make gay rights a GOP cause.

"We're making a lot of noise out there," he said. "We have a low overhead, we can maintain this throughout."

Karger pledged to continue fighting against snubs from debate organizers who won't give him a spot on the stage and even his own party, which he claimed "double crossed" him by refusing to introduce him during Friday night's dinner banquet, which featured GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann.

"If I can get in one of those, anything can happen, which is a scary prospect," he said of the nationally televised debates.

September 18, 2011
Ron Paul supporter cuts big check in straw poll win

Ron Paul may have won the California Republican Party's straw poll Saturday, but his votes came at a price: A Paul supporter wrote a check for $26,000 to register Paul supporters and allow them to vote, publisher Jon Fleischman said this morning.

The Texas congressman won 374 votes, roughly 45 percent of the vote. Registration for each person cost about $100.

Paul's supporters filled the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles for Paul's speech here early Saturday, then lined up to vote.

"You stand in line, and everybody waiting to vote is holding an anti-war sign," said Fleischman. a party executive committee member.

He said it is a "legitimate win by Ron Paul under the rules," if not a reflection of the preference of party activists.

September 17, 2011
Ron Paul wins California GOP straw poll

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is the winner of a straw poll conducted among Golden State Republicans.

The Texas congressman drew large, boisterous crowds of supporters for several speaking appearances at the state party convention under way this weekend at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. He won roughly 45 percent of the 833 ballots cast.

"I think the main purpose of our Constitution and political action should be the preservation of liberty," Paul told delegates on Constitution Day.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose supporters also flocked to the poll site en mass, came in second place with 29 percent of the vote.

Trailing the two top picks was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who secured a distant third place slot with just 9 percent of the votes cast.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who delivered the keynote address to delegates on Friday night, came in fourth place with 7.7 percent of the vote.

See the full results after the jump.

September 17, 2011
GOP looks for Latinos, finds two Democrats

by David Siders and Torey Van Oot

LOS ANGELES - Latino outreach is weighing heavy on the minds at the California Republican Party's fall convention, and for good reason: Republicans are failing to attract many of the state's growing number of Latino voters, one big reason the party is in decline.

But wouldn't you know it? A couple of well-known Latinos were on hand.

First, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, was spotted mingling with Republicans at the hotel bar late Friday night, posing for pictures with GOP power players like Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, and publisher Jon Fleischman. Cedillo, a vocal advocate for immigrant rights, said he had stopped by to welcome friends to his hometown.

His registration remained unchanged.

Also still a Democrat is Tenoch Flores, the state Democratic Party's spokesman. He was in the audience for a town hall-style forum at which Republicans discussed Latino outreach this afternoon.

It's difficult, Flores said, for Republicans to appeal to both conservative forces on the right and Latinos on the left.

"I think the Republicans are sort of stuck," he said, "in a schizophrenic rut."

September 17, 2011
At GOP breakfast, Ron Paul cheered by youthful crowd

LOS ANGELES - A fervent, youthful crowd of Ron Paul supporters hoisted banners and chanted Paul's name as the presidential hopeful swept through the state Republican Party's convention here this morning.

A party breakfast has likely never seen so much Converse.

"I think the main purpose of our Constitution and political action should be the preservation of liberty," Paul told delegates on Constitution Day.

His supporters waved to passers-by outside the JW Marriott and swarmed him inside the hotel.

"We can't have everything overnight," Paul said. "I mean, it would be great if in the first 30 days of this new administration that we could get rid of the IRS and the Federal Reserve."

A more realistic expectation, he said, is lower taxes.

Paul took second in the Iowa straw poll in August, behind Michele Bachmann. Among California Republicans, Paul is polling at 7 percent, just ahead of Bachmann but far behind front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Paul said at breakfast, "The reception has been overwhelming to say the least."

September 16, 2011
Two dollar gas? Bachmann thinks GOP can win California

LOS ANGELES - The California Republican Party is in decline, with numbers so low no Republican is expected to compete seriously here against President Barack Obama.

But Michele Bachmann, it would seem, is an optimist.

Introduced by California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro at the state party's fall convention tonight as a "Midwest firecracker," the Minnesota congresswoman told delegates in Los Angeles to take heart.

"I believe that 2012 will be a wave election that goes all across the United States and will even take in the Golden State," she said. "Don't be disheartened, Republican Party of California. Don't be down-hearted."

Bachmann has fallen back in the Republican field since winning the Iowa straw poll in August. Her standing is even worse among California Republicans, preferred by just 6 percent of GOP voters here, according to a recent Field Poll.

But Obama's numbers, she said, aren't so great, either.

"President Obama's numbers are the lowest that they have ever been," Bachmann said, "and I'm just here to say they haven't hit rock bottom yet."

Obama's public approval ratings are low. But he leads Republican hopefuls by double-digit margins in hypothetical match-ups in California.

September 16, 2011
VIDEO: 'Flash mob' targets Michele Bachmann on gay issues

Gay rights activists deployed the power of dance to protest GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann's presence at the California Republican Party convention.

More than 50 people staged a "flash-mob" style routine to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" to call attention to media reports that the Minnesota congresswoman's husband has been involved in therapy aimed at persuading gay individuals to enter into heterosexual relationships.

"Politicians like Rep. Bachmann need to understand that you can't simply "pray the gay away," read a release from Courage Campaign, which organized and promoted the "impromptu" event.

Bachmann was set to take the stage to deliver the keynote address at the party's fall gathering in the evening.

Watch a clip of the start of the five-minute 'flash mob' below:

September 16, 2011
CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro has second book in the works

TDB.jpgCalifornia Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro is penning a second book.

The top state GOP official says he's about one-third of the way done writing the manuscript, tentatively titled "Selling Freedom in America."

Del Beccaro described the work-in-progress as a road map for revving up interest in GOP-backed ideas and making sure those ideas are implemented.

"A lot of people sit around and say here's 20 things we should do, but if it was just having the ideas. ... It's how to create the environment where people believe that is the right thing to do," he said.

Del Beccaro has yet to secure a publisher or set a release date, but the GOP leader said he's also getting ready to roll out a second edition of his first book, "The New Conservative Paradigm."

He said the tweaks he's made to what was billed as a "playbook that will deliver electoral success well into the 21st Century" make it a "much better book."

The first edition, released ahead of the 2008 election, is currently available only on e-readers. Used copies of the hardcover version start at $4.94 on

September 16, 2011
Who would get your vote in the California GOP straw poll?

The presidential straw poll planned for this weekend's California Republican Party convention will give an early indication of how Golden State Republicans at the gathering view their options for taking on President Barack Obama next year.

We'll post the results from the straw poll once they are unveiled Saturday night. In the meantime, let us know which presidential hopeful you would pick in our Capitol Alert straw poll survey. We've used the list of candidates the CRP will include on its ballot here in Los Angeles.

To see what professional pollsters have found about California Republicans' presidential preferences, check out the latest Field Poll results at this link.

August 26, 2011
Drive to repeal Senate maps gets boost from four GOP senators

Republican state Sens. Tony Strickland, Mimi Walters, Joel Anderson and Doug LaMalfa are among the first contributors to a signature-gathering campaign aimed at repealing the state's newly drawn Senate districts.

GOP strategist David Gilliard said the drive has about $500,000 in contributions or commitments from business, community and political groups, including the California Republican Party.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson has joined with other GOP leaders in sending out a fundraising appeal that contends the new districts could enable Democrats to gain a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

"Democrats are perilously close to gaining the ability to raise our taxes and expand our already bloated government -- unless we take immediate action," the mailer said.

"The state Senate lines drawn by the California Redistricting Commission virtually guarantee a Democrat super-majority in the California State Senate in 2012. A successful drive to put a referendum on the June 2012 ballot is the best way to prevent this from happening."

State law requires Gilliard's group, Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, or FAIR, to report contributions of $5,000 or more within 10 days of receipt.

Strickland and Walters have contributed $25,000 apiece, Anderson $10,000, and LaMalfa, $5,000. Other contributors are Patrick Dirk, chief executive officer of the Troy Group, $10,000; Paula and Kent Meehan Trust of Beverly Hills, $10,000; and Barth Family Trust of San Marino, $7,500, state records show.

Strickland and Walters could be harmed by the new Senate districts, which were drawn for the first time this year by a 14-member citizens commission rather than the Legislature.

Strickland, R-Moorpark, has seen his safe Republican seat redrawn as a competitive district in which Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills also resides.

Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, was moved into an even-numbered district, meaning that she must relocate to seek a new four-year term next year or leave the Legislature when her current term expires in 2014 and wait two years to run again for a Senate seat.

Gilliard said the drive hopes to begin gathering signatures statewide next week. It must collect 504,760 valid voter signatures to qualify for the June 2012 ballot.

July 25, 2011
Michele Bachmann to speak at California GOP convention

Bachmann 2012.jpgGOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann will make a trip to Southern California in September to speak at the California Republican Party's fall convention.

The conservative Minnesota congresswoman is scheduled to address delegates on the first night of the three-day convention, which will be held in Los Angeles Sept 16-18.

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a statement that he believes Bachmann's "pure energy, vibrancy and leadership will be a hit with our delegates."

"This is a great opportunity for us to hear directly from one of the Republican Party's leading presidential candidates," he said.

The full speaker line-up has yet to be confirmed, though CRP spokesman Mark Standriff said invitations have been extended to other GOP presidential candidates as well. Attendees at the party's spring convention in Sacramento heard from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who was then considering a 2012 run of his own.

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., answers questions from the media after signing the Cut Cap Balance Pledge during a news conference in Columbia, S.C., Monday, July 18, 2011.AP Photo/ Brett Flashnick.

June 13, 2011
Video: Gov. Jerry Brown, education official ask for budget deal

Gov. Jerry Brown, surrounded by business and government leaders, talks about his efforts to reach agreement on a state budget this week.

Martha Fluor, a member of the of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board and president of the California School Boards Association, pleads with Republican legislators to make a deal.

April 7, 2011
GOP kicks off budget roadshow of its own

Add the California Republican Party to the list of politicians taking their budget cases on the road.

Starting a yearlong set of visits with a stop tonight in Fresno, Republican lawmakers said today they will talk about proposals for regulatory, pension and other government changes while objecting to Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan.

"Sometimes we get, I think we get insular across the street in that building," Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway said. "And it's a great opportunity to get out and talk to what I call real people, real Californians."

She may cross paths with the Democratic governor or Democratic legislative leaders. Brown is making his first appearance on a statewide budget tour on Friday in Riverside, and Democratic leaders said today they plan to hold budget hearings outside Sacramento.

Brown and Democratic lawmakers are expected to frame the budget controversy as a choice between higher taxes or dramatic service cuts. Conway, Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, said that is a false choice.

"It's disingenuous to scare people," Conway said.

Conway said state government could save $2.5 billion by reducing operating and equipment budgets by 20 percent. Harkey pointed to California's high speed rail project as an example of unnecessary spending. She also objected to it being built through farmland.

"This is cultural genocide, and we can't tolerate that," she said.

After enduring major losses at the polls last year, Republicans will try on their tour to appeal to Democrats and independent voters, including stops in Los Angeles and other Democratic areas, Del Beccaro said.

"We need to hear what it's like out there," he said. "We're going to be doing mostly listening."

The party announced seven stops between today and July 21. It said more dates will be forthcoming.

March 20, 2011
State GOP opposes tax measures even if tied to reforms

The California Republican Party drew a line in the sand this afternoon by voting at the end of its three-day convention to oppose "any tax extension, new taxes or tax increases by the Legislature" even if such measures are tied to spending caps or other reforms.

That stance contrasted with statements made by some officials at the convention that Gov. Jerry Brown needed to seriously consider reforms if Republican legislators would weigh putting some $11 billion in tax extensions on the ballot, as Brown is asking.

New state GOP Chairman Tom Del Becarro told reporters that the tax stance would change the debate in Sacramento. He also questioned whether Brown was serious about pension reforms, spending caps and other changes.

"I am not opposed to legislators speaking to Brown and seeing if he's serious about reform," Del Becarro said."But I'm going to tell you if John Maynard Keynes and (John F.) Kennedy suggest lower taxes and they can get followed by Reagan and Bush they will be more correct than Jerry Brown will ever be."

March 20, 2011
State GOP general session passes sweeping endorsement plan

The California Republican Party convention's general session just approved an endorsement plan passed late last night by the party's rules committee that would send out ballots to all registered Republicans in the state asking their preferences on candidates.

The plan is a reaction to voter-approved Proposition 14, which created a top-two runoff system regardless of party. Both major parties have scorned the proposition, saying it prevents party members from voicing their preferences on candidates.

The plan would establish an official party candidate, as determined by Republicans in the party-organized ballot.

The new endorsement plan will take effect in 2014 and was the subject of heated debate during this weekend's convention in Sacramento. The state has about 5.3 million registered Republicans.

March 20, 2011
GOP former candidate dies after collapsing at convention party

Thumbnail image for douglas mcnea.jpgRepublican activist and former candidate Douglas McNea died late last night after collapsing at a party held by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, according to Sutter General Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Turner.

The 64-year-old San Jose resident won the Republican nomination for the 16th Congressional District of California in 2002 and 2004 but lost both times to U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. He had turned 64 a week ago.

McNea had also run for the 24th Assembly District in 2006, 2008 and 2010 but lost to Democrat James Beall, of San Jose.

According to a biography on, McNea was a nuclear industry scientist and a U.S. Navy veteran. He was married and had four grown children and eight grandchildren.

According to colleague Shane Patrick Connolly, McNea had collapsed on the dance floor at the McCarthy party Saturday night held during the California Republican Party's convention. Paramedics rushing McNea out of the hotel were pounding on his chest, eyewitnesses said.

Turner said McNea was declared dead at 11:56 p.m. Saturday after suffering a heart attack.

McNea was the chairman of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association, Connolly said, and had been active on issues such as limiting eminent domain powers of government.

"He thought it was very important that people treat the money in Sacramento and Washington like they would treat their own money," Connolly said.

A description of McNea on the website for a 2005 initiative push to limit eminent domain read:

Doug McNea is President of Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association, a CRR board member, father of four, Vietnam Veteran, surfer, scientist, and an active member of the California Republican Party as a Nominee for Congress in 2002 and 2004. Doug is a "take it to the streets" activist who is passionate about our personal rights and freedoms. He marched to City Hall to stop the eminent domain takeover of the Tropicana Shopping Center by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. The ethnically diverse and family-owned local businesses at the Tropicana were threatened by eminent domain for the benefit of a proposed new upscale corporate mall. He has traveled to Sacramento as a citizen witness in support of legislation to defend our property rights. He is a candidate for the 24th Assembly District.

UPDATE: McCarthy press secretary Erica Elliott issued this statement on McNea's death: "Congressman McCarthy was deeply saddened to hear that Doug had passed away. He is grateful to those who acted quickly to try and aid a good friend of many in attendance. Doug will be missed by all and his long-standing commitment to his country and his work to protect taxpayers will not be forgotten. We'll continue to keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."

March 20, 2011
GOP rules committee passes ambitious endorsement plan

The California Republican Party's rules committee approved by a 10-8 vote late last night an ambitious endorsement plan that would have the party send out ballots to all registered Republican voters in the state to determine the party's officially endorsed candidates.

The plan comes as a response to Proposition 14, passed in 2010, which created a top-two runoff system, regardless of party affiliation. That proposition has drawn the ire of both major parties, which have looked for ways to stay involved in the process of selecting official party candidates,

If approved in the party's general session today, as is expected, the GOP's new system would take effect in 2014 so that the party would have the time to raise money and organize the mammoth effort to mail out ballots to all of the state's Republicans. The state currently has 5.3 million registered Republicans.

In the 2012 cycle, before the new system is implemented, the party's various committees would endorse candidates by a two-thirds vote through a caucus system.

The vote capped often contentious debate at the state GOP convention being held in Sacramento in which outgoing state party Chairman Ron Nehring put forth a nomination plan that have would have let local party officials come up with endorsements. That sparked criticism from some delegates that the endorsement process would have been decided by a small cadre of political insiders.

Some legislators, including state Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton, of Rancho Cucamonga, had proposed an alternative plan that would have automatically endorsed incumbents and left the party out of other races.

The rules committee approved the plan around 11 p.m. Saturday after U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, made a personal pitch for the alternative proposal, which was submitted by longtime party activist Mike Spence.

A darling of many grass-roots GOP members, McClintock said mailing out ballots to all party member would also give the GOP a unique opportunity to raise funds from the rank-and-file.

"The Republican Party will in essence be conducting its own party primary," McClintock said. "It means in essence that we'll be doing the job that the secretary of state once did. It's going to require logistically a lot of work. ... The important question is how we will restore the role of the rank-and-file voters across this state."

March 19, 2011
Disabled services protesters disrupt state GOP convention

The California Republican Party convention received unexpected visitors this afternoon as a group of protesters blocked a swath of the Hyatt Regency Sacramento lobby to protest cuts to disabled services.

Some of the protesters lay on the lobby carpet with signs reading slogans such as "Close corporate tax loopholes" and "Our lives are precious."

Two of the protesters said they wanted state officials to tax businesses more to pay for social services and urged GOP legislators to put some $11 billion in tax extensions before a vote, as Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing.

The activist group Communities United in Defense of Olmstead helped organize the protest, said Sheela Gunn-Cushman, of San Lorenzo, a visually impaired woman lying on the lobby floor.

Sacramento police showed up, and the protesters cleared the lobby after about an hour.

"We would like to have the corporate loopholes closed so that companies have to pay for the programs we need to survive," said Gunn-Cushman, who said she was a registered Republican. "I support Republicans working with Gov. Brown and making sure people are given the right to vote."

Several Republican delegates loudly condemned the protest and vented their outrage at the tactics used.

The state GOP had organized a similar protest last year, when several people wearing large puppet heads mocking then-candidate Brown showed up at the state Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles. State Republican Party spokesman Mark Standriff had accompanied the protesters.

Republican delegate Rodney Standhope said today's protesters, several of whom came in wheelchairs, were being used and did not understand what they were doing. Gunn-Cushman strongly denied that was the case.

Delegate Alyse Kolb told Gunn-Cushman that her father had suffered from polio but had not asked for government assistance.

"I am really really sorry, but there are churches and other organizations where you can get help," Kolb said.

She later told reporters, "We will put the taxes on the ballot if we can put proposals on the ballot for political reform."

March 19, 2011
Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney win applause poll at GOP lunch

The 2012 presidential race is under way at the state GOP convention, where conservative commentator and pollster Frank Luntz has just talked to hundreds of people at the convention's luncheon in Sacramento.

While advising Republicans on how to use political language, Luntz conducted an informal applause poll among the crowd on the possible GOP presidential candidates.

Those winning the loudest applause were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also received a good amount of applause. Other names such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who will address the convention tonight, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels received less applause.

Luntz, who appears regularly on Fox News, advised Republicans to consolidate their gains from the mid-term elections.

"If you can't be disciplined, then you are doomed to fail," Luntz said. "We have a very skeptical electorate that did not vote Republican in 2010. They voted anti-Democrat."

Luntz said he had asked the luncheon's organizers to close the event to media but had changed his mind and would stick with his original plan.

"It was I who spoke about the desire to have this meeting closed because I wanted to have a frank conversation with the people in this room about the challenges in California and nationwide," Luntz said. "There is nothing the Republican Party has to hide."

Luntz, who said he owns a house in California, also delivered a message to state Republicans resisting Gov. Jerry Brown's push to let voters decide whether to extend about $11 billion in tax increases.

"If Republicans vote to raise taxes, hell hath no fury like a taxpayer scorned," Luntz said. "Don't you dare vote for those taxes."

UPDATE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received one the loudest - if not the loudest - rounds of applause in the informal poll. However, Christie has said repeatedly that he won't run for president in 2012.

March 19, 2011
"Proprietary" info to be scrubbed from Frank Luntz speech

Although hundreds of people gathered at the California Republican Party convention's luncheon in Sacramento today to hear conservative commentator and pollster Frank Luntz, the meeting's organizers tried - at first - to keep news media from covering the talk, citing "proprietary" information that would be shared.

News reporters raised a stink and eventually asked incoming state party Chairman Tom Del Becarro to settle the matter. Del Becarro let the reporters stay, but Luntz's speech would now be revised, presumably so that the sensitive information would be scrubbed, said party spokesman Mark Standriff.

Even conservative radio host Eric Hogue said he had been initially barred from entering the talk because he had a media pass.

UPDATE: Luntz has started speaking and said he's staying with the original plan and talking about how the GOP should use words.

"It was I who spoke about the desire to have this meeting closed," Luntz said, adding that he had changed his mind. "There is nothing that the Republican Party has to hide."

March 18, 2011
Tensions flare at CRP meeting over Prop. 14 nominating rules

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:

March 18, 2011
John Bolton 'considering' running for president

John Bolton.JPGFormer U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said this afternoon that he's "considering" running for president as he spoke to reporters before addressing the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento.

The former George W. Bush appointee, however, declined to give more details about when he might announce his candidacy.

His 19-minute-long news conference suggested any potential run would focus on foreign policy and criticisms of President Barack Obama's handling of issues ranging from Libya to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Just because the last election was almost entirely about the economy doesn't mean the next one will be," Bolton said.

On that note, Bolton's statements were a reminder of the tough-talking rhetoric of the Bush administration. At one point, Bolton said he would have unilaterally declared a no-fly zone over Libya within the first few days of the uprising there.

March 18, 2011
Blakeslee only 'GOP 5' member confirmed to attend CRP confab

Don't expect to see the "GOP 5" in full force at this weekend's California Republican Party convention.

Just one of the five Republican senators who attempted to strike a budget deal with Gov. Jerry Brown in recent weeks has confirmed that he is planning to attend the three-day gathering of GOP officials and delegates.

Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, has already make the trek today to the convention venue across the street from the Capitol, where he attended a heated meeting of the CRP Rules Committee. He plans to attend convention events at the Hyatt tomorrow as well, his spokeswoman said.

Sens. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, and Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, will not attend the convention. Emmerson is out of town for the wedding of a family friend and Harman had prior commitments in his district, according to their respective spokespersons.

A spokeswoman for Sen Anthony Cannella said she could not confirm whether the Ceres Republican will make an appearance, saying his schedule is still up in the air. The office of Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, did not return a request for comment on his plans.

The members, who had proposed broad reforms as possible concessions for voting to put Brown's proposed tax extensions on the ballot, had all come under fire from conservative and anti-tax activists as the upcoming party gathering loomed over this week's budget votes. Adding fuel to the anti-tax sentiment: Celeste Greig, president of the conservative California Republican Assembly, introduced a resolution to condemn as "traitorous" any Republican who votes for tax extensions or increases.

But CRP Chairman Ron Nehring commended the five senators at a press conference, saying they called "Jerry Brown's bluff" by not committing to tax votes after the reform proposals they put forward were rejected by the governor.

March 18, 2011
John Burton slams Grover Norquist for golf & cocaine comment

John BurtonCalifornia Democratic Party Chairman John Burton unleashed his famously colorful rhetoric this morning against conservative activist Grover Norquist, who's repeatedly criticized Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators for seeking to ask voters to extend tax increases to balance the budget.

In a news release, Burton honed in on a statement by Norquist made to The Washington Post, in which he said about the budget battles in Washington, "I think golf and cocaine would be more constructive ways to spend one's free time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint."

Burton's response: "I have always considered golf a good walk spoiled. As a recovering cocaine addict, I am surprised that anyone would think that it is at all constructive to spend one's free time using that drug.

"One would think that Mr. Norquist made this comment with a straw in his hand bending over a mirror full of white power." The state Democratic Party confirmed Burton meant to say "powder" in the news release.

Norquist's Washington, D.C.-based group Americans for Tax Reform has not yet responded to a request for comment from The Bee about Burton's statement.

Americans for Tax Reform has warned California Republican legislators who have signed its anti-tax pledge that approving any move to put tax extensions on the ballot would be considered a violation of the pledge. That position has drawn heavy criticism from Democrats and Brown himself, who called Norquist's stands "pathetic" earlier this month.

Burton echoed some of that criticism this morning as the state GOP gathers for its three-day convention.

"Californians must be trusted to exercise their right to vote - that's how things work in a democracy. What remains of the sensible part of the Republican Party needs to speak loudly against out of touch, and out-to-lunch Republicans like Grover Norquist."

Photo: Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee

March 17, 2011
Eric Hogue, Jon Fleischman debate proposed tax measure

Two of California's leading GOP commentators, radio host Eric Hogue and blogger Jon Fleischman, led a debate at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon this afternoon about Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to place about $11 billion in tax extensions before voters.

Hogue supported negotiating with Brown and Democrats over the tax extension vote and possibly adding more proposals to such a ballot measure, including instituting a spending cap, reforming public employee pensions and streamlining business regulations.

Hogue repeated an argument used by Brown and Democrats that California voters deserved a chance to decide the issue.

"If you want to drive a hard bargain, great, but you have to sit down at the bargaining table," Hogue said. He added later, "I do not want anybody to come before a vote of the people."

Fleischman opposed lending any GOP support for the tax measure, saying union-backed groups would spend millions of dollars trying to persuade voters to approve it.

"I feel very strongly it's a bad idea to raise taxes in California," Fleischman said. "I also don't believe that it's responsible to place taxes on the ballot without assuming that they will pass."

About the union push, he said, "I don't believe it's going to be a fair fight."

February 24, 2011
Haley Barbour to speak at state GOP convention

barbour.JPGMississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is coming to California next month to speak at the California Republican Party's spring convention, according to the conference agenda.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association, is among a crowded field of Republicans testing the waters to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. He is the dinner speaker on Saturday night of the state party convention, which will be held in Sacramento.

Other big names scheduled to speak at the three-day conference include former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and GOP pollster Frank Luntz.

"We're excited to have three influential speakers from three diverse political fields coming to Sacramento next month--one of the world's most respected experts on foreign policy, one of America's leading pollsters and one of our most successful governors," CRP Chairman Ron Nehring said in an e-mailed statement.

The convention will run March 18 to 20 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the conference will be at the convention center. It will be at the Hyatt Regency.

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi speaks during the final day of the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/ Getty Images.

January 14, 2011
CRP Chairman Ron Nehring loses RNC treasurer bid

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring today lost a bid to become treasurer of the Republican National Committee.

Nehring was defeated by Tony Parker, a Republican National Committeeman for Washington, D.C., in a run-off ballot at the RNC's winter meeting in Maryland.

Nehring, who has headed the California GOP since 2007, is wrapping up his final months as state party chair.

Reince Priebus, who heads the Wisconsin Republican Party, was elected party chairman. He replaces incumbent Chair Michael Steele, who dropped out of the running after several rounds of balloting.

November 22, 2010
GOP Senate leader Dutton backs CRP chair hopeful Del Beccaro

GOP lawmakers appear to be lining up behind Tom Del Beccaro's bid to succeed Ron Nehring as chairman of the California Republican Party.

Del Beccaro, the current vice chairman, announced today that he has been endorsed by GOP Senate leader Bob Dutton.

Dutton applauded Del Beccaro's "proven record of bringing together grassroots activists, donors and legislators in order to more effectively communicate our Republican ideas" in a statement released by the campaign.

Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway is chairing Del Beccaro's campaign to replace Nehring, whose term ends in March. Nehring has announced his candidacy for treasurer of the Republican National Committee.

Del Beccaro said he also has the endorsement of incumbent or termed-out GOP legislators Joel Anderson, Tom Berryhill, Bill Emmerson, Jean Fuller, Tom Harman, Bob Huff, George Runner, Tony Strickland, Mimi Walters and Ted Gaines, as well as Board of Directors of the California Federation of Republican Women Board of the California Republican Assembly.

Former GOP state legislator Guy Houston has previously announced that he would also run for the party chair post. The election will be held in March at the state GOP's spring convention.

November 16, 2010
Las Vegas casino mogul gave $390k to California GOP

Adelson.JPGSheldon Adelson, the billionaire CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., wrote a $390,000 check to boost the California Republican Party's efforts in the final days of the campaign. The contribution, made Oct. 28, was first reported last month on the secretary of state website.

Adelson, whose estimated net worth of $28 billion landed him the No. 3 spot on Forbes' list of richest Americans in recent years, owns several major properties on the Las Vegas Strip, including The Venetian, The Palazzo and the new Sands Expo and Convention Center. He is a major donor to Republican candidates and causes nationwide, but has not given to committees for California state office candidates or measures in recent years, campaign records show.

Adelson's other major contribution this cycle was contributed $500,000 to American Solutions Winning the Future, a conservative nonprofit group founded by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to

Other major CRP contributors in the final days of the campaign, according to an amendment of the filing posted this week, include Panda Express executive Andrew Cheng ($30,000), state Sen. Mark Wyland ($32,400), Redwood Shores-based software company Oracle ($50,000) and Marc I. Stern, president of the investment management firm TCW Group ($25,000), according to the report.

The party reported sending six-digit checks to lieutenant governor candidate Abel Maldonado, controller candidate Tony Strickland and 12th Senate District candidate Anthony Cannella in the same filing. Only Cannella won on Nov. 2.

UPDATE: Though the financial disclosure indicates Oracle is based out of Rocklin, it is based in Redwood Shores. The post has been updated to correct the error. This post was also updated to clarify when the contribution was filed.

PHOTO CREDIT: Owner and operator of the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, Sheldon Adelson, talks during a press conference in Macau at the opening of the Las Vegas Sands casino on in this May 18, 2004 Anat Givon, Associated Press.

August 27, 2010
Whitman campaign: We've merged with state GOP victory operation

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's ground operation has merged with that of the state Republican Party's and will be focusing not just on the governor's race this fall but also on targeted legislative races, said Whitman strategist Jeff Randle this morning in a conference call with reporters.

That joint effort was already tested in the special election to fill the 15th state Senate seat vacated by Abel Maldonado, Randle said, when Whitman herself and her aides worked in the district to coordinate the ground plan. The result, he said, was 60 volunteers walking precincts and 275,000 phone calls to support the eventual victor, Republican Sam Blakeslee.

"We have fully integrated our group operation, meaning the Whitman campaign from the primary into the Republican party victory operation to ensure we are helping all Republican candidates," Randle said. "So it's now one big victory operation to help everybody."

Party-run consolidated campaign ground operations are nothing new in California, but Randle said this effort is "really the most team-oriented integrated victory operation I have ever seen or ever run in my 22 years in politics."

UPDATE: Ho hum, responded California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores to Randle's statements about the Whitman/state GOP ground game.

"It may be novel for the Republicans, but Democrats consider statewide coordination a given," Flores said. "That's why it's called a coordinated campaign."

Flores added, "We're going to be concentrating on turning out core Democrats. This is something we're taking very seriously, from door-knocking to phone-banking to online media to get the word out about the Democratic ticket and Republican ticket and what this would represent for California. We feel pretty good about our volunteer efforts."

August 22, 2010
Meet the CRP confab's cheerleader-in-chief

JosephKung1.JPGA 66-year-old retired real estate mogul isn't the first thing that comes to mind when one imagines a cheerleader.

But dressed in a blue silk garment covered with stickers and a chef's hat fashioned out of Meg Whitman bumper stickers, delegate Joseph Kung calls himself just that. When it comes to the California Republican Party convention, at least.

Kung, who lives in Diamond Bar, was a popular attraction at the convention Friday night, as he traversed the halls posing for pictures with other delegates and generating cheers with with his wails of "Go, Meg, Go!"

Kung is a familiar face to frequent GOP convention goers. He first debuted what he calls his sticker-themed get-up in 2000, when George W. Bush was running for the White House.

Two years later he returned, bumper sticker hat and all, to rally supporters for then GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon. The delegate's efforts to boost Republican candidate were recognized with a medal from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which he proudly displayed around his neck.

Kung says he was ill and couldn't make it to the conventions during Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign, but he's back in action in time to campaign for gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman.

"I regained my health and I'm ready, full speed for Meg!" he cheered.

Photo by Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee.

August 22, 2010
State GOP floor fight!

What was expected to be a ho-hum general assembly meeting at the state GOP convention this morning dragged out into a prolonged fight over the party's rules committee calling an impromptu meeting last night about a resolution coordinating a proposed merger between two rival young Republican factions.

It was an awkward start to what was supposed to be a pep rally celebrating Republican unity and the promising campaigns of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

Rules Committee Chairman Mike Osborn called three votes on the committee's decision to postpone taking on the resolution, with critics of the committee's action finally forcing a person-by-person vote count rather than the usual choruses of ayes and nays.

Dissenting delegates questioned whether the committee had a quorum last night.

"We're divided on this," said Bob Hauter, a delegate from Santa Barbara County. "There's an arbitration going on. We can leave that here and we don't give the press and the Democrats all this information on the fight going on."

About 70 minutes into the fight, the assembly finally approved the committee's postponement of the measure, which would have overseen the proposed merger of the California Young Republicans and the Young Republican Federation of California.

August 21, 2010
Courage Campaign: Meg Whitman won't be able to defend Prop. 8

Fiorina protest.jpgThe liberal advocacy group Courage Campaign played down Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's announcement yesterday that she would defend Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage, if elected governor.

Courage Campaign director Rick Jacobs noted that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already scheduled a hearing for the week of Dec. 6 to determine whether the initiative's sponsor, the advocacy group Protect Marriage, has legal standing to defend the voter-passed measure.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown are not defending the proposition in the courts. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California, who declared the proposition unconstitutional Aug. 4, had suggested that only the state could defend the law.

If elected, Whitman would take the oath of office on Jan. 3, although it remains unclear whether she could join the lawsuit as a defendant after the December hearing.

"She wouldn't be governor yet," Jacobs said. "The appeals court will decide before there would be a change of governor and attorney general."

UC Hastings College of the Law professor Rory Little said Whitman's ability to defend the proposition would hinge on several factors - the biggest of which, of course, is whether she becomes governor.

It would also depend on whether the 9th Circuit decides the standing issue before January 6 and how the court decides.

"There are a lot of ifs," Little said. "If the 9th Circuit hasn't decided the matter by December, she could attempt to file a brief to say, 'Now, the state of California enters the case.'"

The Courage Campaign is an official supporter of the main independent expenditure group opposing Whitman, California Working Families.

Jacobs said Whitman's announcement from yesterday bolstered the group's resolve to oppose Whitman, although it doesn't endorse candidates.

"You're going to see us making it clear that Meg Whitman is unqualified to be governor on any stand," Jacobs said.

Responding to a question from The Bee yesterday during a campaign stop, Whitman said, "The issue right now is, as I understand is 'Will Proposition 8 have the appropriate support to actually make an appeal to the circuit court of appeals?'And I think the governor, the attorney general today has to defend the constitution and has to enable the judicial process to go along and has to enable an appeal to go through. So if I was governor, I would give that ruling standing to be able to appeal to the circuit court."

Whitman's campaign later told The Bee that she would become a defendant in the appeal of Walker's ruling if needed.

August 20, 2010
Meg Whitman: Jerry Brown will raise your taxes

Half of the Republican statewide ticket pumped up the party faithful Friday night to cap the first day of the state GOP's semi-annual convention at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was the star of the night, but she shared the spotlight with secretary of state candidate Damon Dunn and state controller nominee Tony Strickland.

In her fourth address to a state Republican convention, Whitman delivered a populist and at times pep rally-like address, albeit with a business school tinge.

The former CEO of online auction firm eBay took the stage as classic rock shook the hotel ballroom. "Damon Dunn, you are a star!" she bellowed and then told Strickland, "You're going to be the most awesome controller! The CFO of the state!"

Sitting with Strickland at the front table were also Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who's running for re-election, and Whitman's husband Griffith R. Harsh.

August 20, 2010
State GOP denies a venue for California Republican Assembly

Internal tensions are already rising at the California Republican Party convention getting under way here in San Diego.

The conservative California Republican Assembly had planned to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. at the convention to tout its resolution supporting the 1994 voter-backed anti-illegal immigration measure Proposition 187 and Arizona's recent law requiring law enforcement check the legal status of people they suspect of being illegal immigrants.

However, former CRA President Mike Spence just told The Bee that the party has refused his group a room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where the convention is being held, for the news conference.

"I guess they don't want this to be discussed," Spence said.

State party press secretary Crystal Feldman said the convention has other priorities. "The CRP convention is fully focused on the candidates," she said.

The CRA is now searching for another venue for their news conference.

June 29, 2010
Money, voting records blow in the wind as party leaders clash

The top bosses at California's major political parties squared off today at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon on which party will wake up Nov. 3 as the winner.

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring pointed to national and state trends that he said show political winds in the GOP's sails, including leads in polling on generic congressional ballots, President Barack Obama's declining approval rating, gubernatorial elections in West Virginia and New Jersey and the special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts.

"The political jet streams will be in our favor," he said, pointing to GOP victories in 1994 as an example of how the national political environment can affect California races.

But state Democratic Party Chairman John Burton wasn't so sure.

"Changes of winds and winds of change, who the hell knows where the wind goes. It tends to change," Burton said. "Do you ever watch the weather report? The wind's coming here, but they go there?"

June 29, 2010
Two California party chairmen are verbally challenged

There was little agreement today when John Burton, the state Democratic Party chairman, and Ron Nehring, his Republican counterpart, made a joint appearance at the Sacramento Press Club.

One of those disagreements was on how to pronounce the name of Carly Fiorina, the GOP challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. While Nehring pronounced it correctly, Burton repeatedly pronounced it as if it were spelled "Fiorino."

But Nehring may have compensated for that verbal faux pas by repeatedly referring to Burton's side as the "Democrat Party," using the standard GOP nomenclature that irritates members of the Democratic Party to no end.

January 21, 2010
Supreme Court decision could affect Barbara Boxer race

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling today overturning restrictions on independent spending by corporations and labor unions could have an immediate impact this year in California's U.S. Senate race.

California state campaign finance rules already allow corporations and unions to give directly to independent expenditure campaigns without limits, so the court decision will have little impact on state contests.

But the decision overturns federal rules requiring that corporations and unions establish political action committees, or PACs, to spend on elections. Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an architect of California campaign finance rules, said the ruling should have a greater impact for corporations, who have access to more money and have been less adept than unions at navigating PAC rules in the past.

As we reported today, Republicans in California believe they have a shot at unseating Sen. Barbara Boxer in November and were emboldened by Scott Brown's victory Tuesday in Massachusetts. Boxer leads all three GOP hopefuls in head-to-head matchups, but she is hovering at or below the 50 percent mark. Conventionally, that's a sign that an incumbent is vulnerable, but Boxer has a history of modest support in early polling.

"It certainly changes the Boxer race," Stern said. "It means corporations, without setting up a PAC, can spend as much as they want opposing Boxer."

September 30, 2009
College Republicans full of hops -- without candidates' help

After last weekend's California Republican Party convention, a spokeswoman for potential Senate candidate Carly Fiorina dissed the results of rival Chuck DeVore's self-commissioned straw poll, telling CNN's Peter Hamby:

"Let me get this straight, you want me to comment on a Chuck DeVore straw poll that was conducted in the DeVore hospitality suite on Saturday night with a bunch of college Republicans and a lot of free beer flowing?"

Beer and college students may go together like Republicans and no-tax pledges, but can candidates really capture conservative students' support with an abundance of ale?

Not so easily, according to Michael Antonopoulos. The California College Republicans statewide chairman hinted that the 100-plus College Republican members who volunteered for candidates over the weekend were more of the BYOB types.

"College Republicans didn't need Chuck DeVore's beer -- we had plenty on our own," he quipped.

DeVore is scheduled to spend tonight talking to the CR chapter at this Capitol Alert scribe's alma mater -- University of Southern California.

Maybe the Irvine assemblyman could break the ice by asking what's on tap.

September 28, 2009
GOP candidates don't wear plaid

PLAID.JPGIf you're a Republican candidate hoping to crush your opponent, try not to have your picture taken in stripes or plaid. Do let your campaign manager be the meanie while you preach peace and love. And it doesn't hurt to be in almost supernaturally perfect health.

That's some of the wisdom attendees received Friday at a campaign management session held at the California Republican Party's biannual convention, which finished yesterday in scorching Indian Wells.

Arlington-based consultant Nancy Bocskor led the audience through the minutiae of campaigning, covering everything from how to attack an opponent to making sure campaign events are held in venues with enough parking.

The curriculum was created by Joe Gaylord, the strategist behind the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, and paid for by Republican candidate-training group GOPAC.

The advice offers everything from tips on the most granular level of detail to 50,000-feet adages resembling what Yoda might have counseled Luke Skywalker in a tight state Assembly race.

State GOP leaders spent much of the three-day convention predicting victory next year. Time will tell how much of the Yoda-talk helps.

Read some selected nuggets from the power point presentation and handout after the jump.

Photo: Former Gov. Pete Wilson sports a plaid shirt while campaigning in New Hampshire for his failed presidential bid. Credit:AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

September 28, 2009
State GOP convention 'straw poll' full of... straw?

You might have seen some buzz on Twitter or in your e-mail inbox about Senate wannabee Chuck DeVore and GOP guv-hopeful Steve Poizner crushing respective rivals Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in the state party convention straw poll.

But as CNN's Peter Hamby points out: "One problem: There was no official straw poll at the California Republican Party Convention."

"We did not conduct a straw poll at this convention whatsoever," California GOP chairman Ron Nehring said in an e-mail.

So who did? An aide to DeVore -- a state Assemblyman who has actively courted the party's conservative wing as he prepares to battle Fiorina for the Republican Senate nomination -- acknowledged that Sunday's poll was engineered by the DeVore campaign, even though it was described as a "CRP straw poll" in an e-mail to supporters.

"It was not connected to the party," said DeVore spokesman Joshua Trevino. "We printed up the ballots, and they were distributed on Saturday night."

Trevino said in an interview that it was never the intention to give off the impression that the straw poll was party-sponsored.

"Our assumption was that everyone knew what we assumed they knew, which was that the party these days doesn't run a straw poll," he said.

He said organizers handed out ballots, which had the gubernatorial candidates' names listed first in alphabetical order, to attendees leaving the Saturday night speeches. About 200 ballots were returned to a box outside the DeVore convention suite.

It was not a function of people who already like Chuck," he said of the poll's methodology, though he conceded: "This is not scientific, this is not the height of polling, it's a straw poll it is what it is."

More convention wrap-up items:

  • All three GOP guv hopefuls addressed the party over the weekend. Missed the main show? Read the prepared text of speeches by Tom Campbell , Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman .
  • As Jack Chang reports, some social conservatives weren't feeling too optimistic about their options.
  • Some convention-goers got creative with costumes to take jabs at gubernatorial candidates.
  • Whitman didn't get creative in her response to reporters' repeated questions about why she failed to vote for most of her adult life. Listen to her stick to the I'm sorry line as the press presses her to explain why she stayed home from the polls for so many years.

This post was updated at 12:50 with additional comments from Josh Trevino.

September 25, 2009
AM Alert: A grand old party

There's a Grand Old Party going down in Indian Wells this weekend as California Republicans meet for their biannual state party convention.

As colleague Jack Chang reports in today's Bee, Republicans are hoping opposition to President Barack Obama's health care proposal and continuing concerns over the economy will rev up Republicans in the run-up to the 2010 election.

"What's unique and exciting about this convention is the party now has a lot of momentum going into next year," Brent Lowder, the California Republican Party's chief operating officer, says in today's story. "This convention is going to be a nice focal point to take that momentum out there as seen in town halls on health care and channel it into 2010 in victories for the Republican Party."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose "dying at the box office" remarks at the fall 2007 conference irked attendees, will kick things off with a speech at Friday's dinner banquet.

All three GOP gubernatorial hopefuls are scheduled to speak, with former Rep. Tom Campbell taking the stage today, followed by speeches from former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on Saturday.

Other familiar names on the speakers' schedule include GOP legislative leaders Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee and Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth; state Sens. Jeff Denham and Sam Aanestad, both candidates for lieutenant governor; Assemblyman and U.S. Senate hopeful Chuck DeVore; as well as Rep. Mary Bono Mack, state Sen. George Runner and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes.

Now, back to today's happenings:

The governor will start the day at Southern California's Twentynine Palms Marine Base at a signing ceremony for AB 717 , a bill to designate a day honoring Vietnam veterans. This isn't the first time Schwarzenegger's pen has touched the proposal -- he vetoed an identical measure a few weeks ago because he was unhappy with the speed of end-of-session progress on top issues such as prisons and water.

The bill's author, Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook, who said before he was "ready to go to war" over the vetoed bill, will join Schwarzenegger for his John Hancock photo-op.

September 11, 2009
State GOP drops push to bar decline-to-state voters from primary

Southern California Republican Party Vice Chair Jon Fleischman has dropped his push to change the California Republican Party bylaws to bar decline-to-state voters from casting a vote in the Republican primary.

Fleischman, the publisher of FlashReport, wrote in a blog post today that he decided to withdraw his proposal because misinformation about the changes and its effects were causing fractures in the party.

"You had a bunch of people going around and telling people that if you adopt this change our party will lose elections because of it," he said in an interview. "I don't think it is a conculsive case because no one has the data."

The proposal came under fire from some Republicans who worried that the move could discourage independent voters, who now make up 20 percent of the electorate, from supporting Republican candidates. Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, called it "suicidal."

Maldonado issued a statement Friday applauding Fleischman's decision to withdrawal the proposal. He said the changes backed by Fleischman "would permanently damage the party and would weaken our chances at winning statewide in November."

Fleischman, however, argued that allowing decline-to-state voters to go to the polls in Republican primaries would weaken the core principles of the Republican Party in the long run.

"My concern is that if you don't give Republicans the responsibility for choosing their nominee, you end up with people in those positions who start to less and less represent the view of Republicans," he said.

Fleischman wrote in the post that his decision to pull back on putting the proposal up for a vote at the upcoming party convention does not mean he will stop pursuing the issue.

"The reality is that as long as someone can registered Decline To State and elect to vote in either major party's primary, we will continue to see the percentage of DTS voters steadily increase at the expense of party registration. Both political parties are going to eventually have to confront this issue head on."

He said in an interview that he plans to continue to advocate for allowing only registered Republicans to vote in GOP primaries, though by pulling the measure from this month's convention, he has missed the deadline for making the change before the 2010 primary.

This post was updated on Sept. 13 to include Maldonado's statement and an interview with Fleischman.

April 17, 2009
AM Alert: State GOP faces Prop 1A pickle

RonNehringspeech.jpgThe California Republican Party's executive committee is expected to vote this weekend to oppose Proposition 1A, which would limit future spending while approving $16 billion in temporary tax hikes.

The CRP will find itself in a tricky position explaining how it can oppose Proposition 1A after it already gave Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger $650,000, much of which is going toward the pro-1A effort. Schwarzenegger laid claim to that money in January and February ($1.3 million shows up on the secretary of state's Web site, but the transfers have been double-posted, according to Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Julie Soderlund).

CRP spokesman Hector Barajas already faced questions of this sort from Los Angeles talk-show hosts John and Ken on Wednesday, who grilled Barajas on KFI-AM about how his party could give so much money that ended up supporting Proposition 1A. John and Ken held a protest in front of the California Republican Party headquarters in Burbank, largely due to that money transfer.

Barajas later said by phone that the CRP board decided to give Schwarzenegger $650,000 to pay for "the governor's activities, whether it's for conferences, his plane, his travel, other expenses." He said it was not earmarked for any one purpose.

He said the party routinely helps its governors and other elected officials. "Whether an individual is a fundraising machine or not, a partnership is a partnership. If we provide money for the governor so he can go out to conferences or promote his agenda, that's the function of the party."

Still, Barajas said that the state party's "sentiment seems to be against 1A."

The dilemma is reflective of the split within the CRP.

Many of its grassroots members oppose Proposition 1A, and most GOP lawmakers voted against it in the Legislature. But its top elected officials are the ones responsible for it. Schwarzenegger is spearheading the fundraising drive for the measure, while its legislative leaders struck the deal that put 1A on the ballot.

To the Republican lawmakers who voted for it, the most crucial piece was a permanent spending cap. But to get Democrats to go along -- and to discourage unions from defeating it on the ballot -- those Republicans had to agree to a temporary $16 billion tax hike, which is the poison pill for the party's activist Republicans who will likely vote Saturday to oppose Proposition 1A.

"Prop 1A is a sustained tax increase masquerading as reform in the hope that you will not notice the taxes," wrote GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to the party urging it to oppose the measure.

But neither the billionaire Whitman nor Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has cut a check that could actually defeat the measure.

WATER RALLY: Schwarzenegger is scheduled to speak at the California March for Water rally today in Los Banos. Ex-Senate GOP leader Dave Cogdill is also scheduled to speak.

CARTOONS AND PHOTOS: Do you like Rex Babin's political cartoons? Or a Bee photographer's shot of your favorite (or least favorite) politico? Well, you can buy those photos or printed cartoons online now.

BIRTHDAY: This Sunday, Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, turns 69.

Compiled by Kevin Yamamura and Shane Goldmacher

Photo: Chairman of the California Republican Party Ron Nehring at the California Republican Party convention in February 2007. Credit: Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton

February 23, 2009
Schwarzenegger: GOP votes for budget were 'great heroes'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the final day of his Washington D.C. swing, took a swipe at the state Republican Party and defended those GOP lawmakers that sided with him and majority Democrats in backing last week's budget.

"I think that they've done a terrific job and they should pay very little attention to what the party says," Schwarzenegger said.

The Bee's Rob Hotakainen has more from the governor:

"First of all, I would not be too concerned about that if I would be those candidates because the Republican Party has no money anyway. That is number one. Number two, I think that those six that have come in and voted for the budget are great public servants because they have done in the end what was best for the people of California and what was best for the state rather than what was best for their party ideology. So they are in my opinion great heroes and I will always support them."

Schwarzenegger has long had a cool -- if not downright icy -- relationship with the Republican Party apparatus in California. The party is far more conservative than the moderate governor, who has embraced fighting climate change as a top issue and higher taxes to balance the budget.

In 2007, Schwarzenegger chastised the state GOP in a convention speech, saying, "in movie terms, we are dying at the box office. We are not filling the seats."

In 2008, he said in an interview with Der Speigel that the Republicans running the party are "just so out there."

"Think about the Republicans from California that are running the party. I have almost no contact with them. None -- because they're just so out there," he told the magazine.

Schwarzenegger skipped the party convention in Sacramento last weekend for his East Coast trip.

February 23, 2009
AM Alert: Grand Old Grumpiness

It was a busy weekend on both coasts for California Republicans.

Fresh from raising taxes and slicing the budgets of fellow consitutuional officers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger headed to Washington, D.C. to attend a National Governors Association meeting and take a bow before the national media.

Likening California's budget troubles to an earthquake, the governor defended his decision to raise taxes and said his party's leaders in Washington should be "team players" with President Barack Obama.

And if that means violating the GOP's principles, he said, so be it.

Grand Old Party members with another point of view, meanwhile, were wrapping up a weekend convention in Sacramento with little love for their governor or his flexible principles.

Would-be replacements for Schwarzenegger - Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman - did their best to convince those attending they wouldn't raise taxes if their lives depended on it.

And delegates delivered a symbolic, if watered-down, gesture of their disdain for the budget, passing a resolution Sunday to deny funding for campaign mailers for six state lawmakers who voted for a budget with tax increases.

In case you missed the convention, you can catch up here:

Delegate Alex Burrola was unhappy enough with Schwarzenegger that he called on the party to apologize to Democratic Gov. Gray Davis for recalling him from office.

A Ventura County Supervisor and leader of a state anti-tax group plotted a conservative challenge to Whitman and Poizner in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.

Former Hewlett Packard CEO and Republican National Committee "Victory 2008" chairwoman Carly Fiorina said she isn't ready to say whether or not she she's running against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford rallied delegates by saying it's "gut check" time for the GOP.

And Rep. Darrell Issa took a shot at state Sen. Abel Maldonado.

February 2, 2009
State GOP to consider censuring any lawmaker backing taxes

BassVillines.jpgIn an effort to ramp up pressure on Republican lawmakers who might agree to a compromise budget deal, a top GOP official has submitted a resolution for the party's convention later this month to formally censure any Republican who votes for new or higher taxes.

"If the Republican party loses the ability to say that we're the party against higher taxes than we've been dealt a grievous blow," said Jon Fleischman, the author of the resolution and a Southern California vice chairman in the California Republican Party.

Fleischman, who publishes the conservative FlashReport Web site, said the resolution is meant as a "stick" to dissuade GOP legislators from agreeing to any budget plan with higher taxes crafted with majority Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"I think it is fair to say that if you are a Republican and, between now and the February convention, you vote for tax increases, you are likely to be censured by your party and cast out among the unwanted," he said.

The resolution goes one step further than a censure. It calls for changes in party bylaws to allow the Republican Party "to campaign and contribute funds against these pro-tax Republican legislators in primaries, and in general elections."

The state GOP faithful are set to gather for their semi-annual convention in Sacramento on Feb. 20.

"I think there's enough anger out there that something like this could pass," said Patrick Dorinson, former communications director for California Republican Party.

Legislative leaders and Schwarzenegger have been negotiating behind closed doors -- in what's termed Big Five meetings -- to address the state's roughly $40 billion budget hole through July 2010.

January 30, 2009
AM Alert: Green fees of a different sort

FBR_Open_Golf.jpgBeginning next week, state Controller John Chiang has said he will begin issuing IOUs use "payment deferrals."* And Thursday's court decision to allow furloughs means next Friday could be a mass day without work for the state's workforce.

Rightfully so, the focus in the Capitol has been all budget, all the time.

But today marks a different deadline under the dome. It's the last day for lawmakers to submit bill requests to the Office of the Legislative Counsel -- the Legislature's lawyers who draft the bills.

Meanwhile, the California Republican Party is headed to Arizona.

No, the state GOP hasn't given up on the Golden State. But the Republican Party hosts a fundraiser in Scottsdale, Ariz., this weekend, raising money from donors at the FBR Open.

That's one way to get around Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed golf tax.

Top donors are asked to fork over $10,000 for a "Skybox Pass" to the golf tournament and two nights stay at the local Fairmont.

What is a skybox doing at a golf course? Clearly, you've never seen the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, where a stadium surrounds the green and boos rain down on bad shots.

Here in Sacramento, area Rep. Doris Matsui will speak to tonight's Business Awards dinner sponsored by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

During the day, the Public Policy Institute of California hosts a discussion about the state's fiscal future -- and the results of its latest poll.

The noon discussion will feature Mark Baldassare, the PPIC president; Craig Cornett, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's budget director; and H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance.

BIRTHDAY: This Sunday may be the Super Bowl. But it's also the 56th birthday of Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.

*CORRECTION: The original version of this post said that Chiang would be issuing IOUs next week. That is incorrect. Chiang has said that he will use "payment deferrals" to conserve money, instead.

Photo: Associated Press / The Arizona Republic, Charlie Leight

November 24, 2008
State GOP calls governor's tax stand 'injurious'

As The Bee reported in a Buzz item in today's newspaper, the California Republican Party's board of directors passed a resolution on Friday calling on GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to withdraw his support of higher taxes to balance the budget.

The party's resolution, which was drafted by Jon Fleischman, a regional vice chairman for the party and the publisher of the FlashReport, calls Schwarzenegger's support of higher taxes "not only injurious to our state's economy but to the Republican Party."

The party resolution says California has an "overspending problem and raising taxes on Californians is not an option to resolve the situation."

Read the full resolution after the jump, courtesy of Fleischman:

October 16, 2008
Nehring calls anti-Obama images 'absolutely unacceptable'

RonNehring.jpgCalifornia Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring has denounced the two racially insensitive materials produced by Republican groups in Sacramento and San Bernardino County this week, calling the anti-Barack Obama imagery "nothing but divisiveness and hostility."

On Wednesday, The Bee reported the Sacramento Republican Party's Web site linked Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to "Waterboard Barack Obama."

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported today a newsletter from a local GOP women's group depicted Obama "surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken."

"The California Republican Party vigorously opposes any material of his kind," Nehring said.

Capitol Alert has reported more on the materials here.

Check out Nehring's full statement on the flip.


Capitol Alert Staff

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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