Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cali GOP May Be Making A Comeback

Yeah, I know, you think that I am just having one of those California Dreamin' moments when I write that the Republican party in this once Golden State maybe making a small comeback.
But I am very serious.
One of the reasons is while the state-wide turnout in last Tuesday's primary was only a rip-roaring 18%, the reality is that there was no contentious race for the Democrats for governor. That kept Democrat turnout way down. There was a pretty contentious Republican race for governor between state assemblyman Tim  Donnelly and businessman Neel Kashkari and that may have driven more Republicans to the polls.
John Phillips in the Orange County Register makes an interesting point about the Republican race and why Mr. Donnelly did not win the race for second place on the all-party ballot and the majority of Republican votes.
If your barely win your home county, and your opponent swamps you in his home county, makes it really hard to win the race.
That is what happened to Mr. Donnelly. He basically tied the votes at 24% a piece. But Mr. Donnelly won the majority of Republican votes in San Bernardino county, his base.
On the other hand, the little-known Mr. Kashkari pounced Mr. Donnelly in his home county, Orange county by 10 points.
That is a bad omen for Mr. Donnelly. And it proved in the end his undoing.
A lot of people think that Mr. Kashkari is but a respectable loser to the current occupant of the governor's office, Democrat Jerry Brown. We shall see on that.
But here is why I think the state party has a chance to make a comeback.
There are a couple of statewide races that are worth watching to see if the GOP can win one or more of the constitutional offices up for grabs this November.
In the race for secretary of state, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Petersen ran an essential tie. In fact, as of this writing, only 9,776 votes separate the top two. Both will go on to the November general election.
There is a serious race for state controller and GOP candidate Ashley Swearingen, the mayor of Fresno, is assured to have won the primary. The race is for second place for the November ballot.
Right now, Democrat John Perez is in second place only 1,128 votes ahead of fellow Democrat Betty Lee. Lurking in fourth place is Republican David Evans only 16,577 behind Mr. Perez. And there is still some vote counting to do. If by some chance Mr. Evans can get into second place, it assures the Republicans one constitutional office. But the closeness of the two Democrats could leave a bad taste in the one that eventually is in third place.
One other race that I do think is worth watching is the race for Lt. governor.
The incumbent is Democrat Gavin Newsom. He is the former mayor of San Francisco and has spent most of his time in office mocking the very office he is in.
The Republican second-place finisher is former state chair Ron Nehring.
But as of this writing, Mr. Newsom is below 50% of the total vote. It is marginal at 49.8%, but still it shows that he may be vulnerable and if Mr. Nehring can make a good case that Mr. Newson does not even care about being Lt. governor and is just buying time to run for governor in 2018, I do believe that he has a shot.
Some key congressional races to watch starts with the 52nd district in which is probably a swing district. The current congressman, Democrat Scott Peters, won in the 2012 Obama election year. This year he did win the top spot in the open primary. But he did not clear 50%. He has barely cleared 42%. The second place finisher is one of the more interesting choices and that is Republican Carl DeMaio. Mr. DeMaio's current claim to fame is that he is the candidate that lost the 2012 San Diego mayor election to Democrat disgrace, Filthy Bob Filner. But Mr. DeMaio's strong showing in coming in second with 35% of the vote will make this a race to watch. And it could make history for if Mr. DeMaio wins, he will be the first openly gay Republican elected to the House.
In the 25th district, it will be an all GOP affair as former state assemblyman Tony Strickland will take on current state senator Steve Knight. Call this a safe GOP seat.
An outlier could be the 33rd district which is the seat of long-time lefty windbag Henry The Mole Waxman. The Democrat field was so divided that a Republican finished first overall. GOP candidate Elan Carr will take on Democrat Ted Lieu. I think that this is an outlier, but if Democrat also-rans are still bitter, it could help Mr. Carr.
A better chance for Republicans is the 24th district, current Democrat Lois Capp's home district. It appears that, again as of this writing, Republican Chris Mitchum will try to unseat Mrs. Capps. Turnout was actually strong for both parties here and it could be a close enough race that Republicans may pull off an upset.
The Republicans will not come anywhere close to winning the state senate or assembly, but they do not have to.
All they need to do is win enough seats to kill the Democrats super-majority in both houses. And with three Democrat state senators on leave due to serious legal issues, it is very likely that it will happen.
It may not seem like much but the reality is the party has been on the mat especially in the last two presidential elections. Neither John McCain or Mitt Romney could get 38% of the statewide vote. And if you want to count the 2010 election, Meg Whitman ran for governor and racked up 41% of the vote. Carly Fiorina ran for senate and got 42% of the vote.
If Mr. Kashkari can at least get a little bit closer that Mrs. Whitman, maybe even getting 45% of the vote, that is progress. If one of the three other Republicans can win the races I highlighted, that will be a huge shot in the arm and  begin a bench for the state GOP. If the Republicans can get some of the congressional seats back lost in 2012, that will be a sign of comeback. If the Republicans can win enough state assembly and state senate seats and deny the Democrats a super-majority, that will be a huge sign that the party is going to be back and relevant in Sacramento.
These are great possibilities and one can only hope the California Republican party can make some headway in the Democrat stranglehold. For a one-party state is not good for California or any other state in the Republic.

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