BURLINGAME, CALIF. -- On March 14, the California Republican Party held its annual spring convention at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport in Burlingame. The goal of the convention -- its theme “Rebuild, Renew, Reclaim” -- was to “rebuild our party from the ground up, renew important community relationships, and reclaim California for our families and our future,” according to the website.In 2004, Republicans -- making up 35 percent of registered voters in California -- held the governor's office under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just ten years later, Republicans make up only 28.7 percent of California voters and despite the Democrats losing their supermajority in the state Senate, the GOP's prospects for winning the governor's office appear slim.
In the face of declining numbers of Republican voters in the state, Republican leaders discussed California's political landscape at the convention.
“This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for over two decades in this state,” said Jim Brulte, the current chairman of the California Republican Party and former Republican state Senate leader, in a speech. “We have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands.”
Speakers included Dr. Condoleezza Rice, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and San Diego mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer. Each spoke about party strategies in California, including a stronger emphasis on grassroots efforts -- including permanent "on-the-ground" teams of Republican activists and greater inclusion of minority groups -- and more technologically-advanced voter data collection.Despite a decline in both Republican and Democratic voters in the state, independent voters now make up 20.8 percent of California registered voters. As nonpartisanship in California grows, the GOP will have a greater need in coming years to sway independents to vote Republican.
Tim Donnelly, a conservative assemblyman from Southern California and candidate for governor, noted the increasing power independents hold.
“The independents are the fastest growing demographic – they have power to wield,” he said. “They ought to show up at the table and start demanding answers to the issues.”
Of nonpartisan voters, Donnelly noted that his strategy will be to “show up and talk to them,” articulating “principles that are universal.”
Photo Credit: Scott Detrow/KQED