MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political writer
California Republicans are eager to continue their failed efforts to oust Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom on a recall election and focus next year on the U.S. House of Representatives races that could determine which party controls Congress and whether the GOP Head of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, rises to chair the speaker.
A three-day gathering of party delegates starting Friday will include their share of soul searching and pointing out last week’s recall loss. The party faces the harsh reality that Republicans have not won a nationwide race in California since 2006 and their ranks continue to wither in the heavily democratic state.
But the focus is on the future and the possibility that Republican victories could help Bakersfield McCarthy oust House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat.
Democrats hold 220 seats in the House of Representatives, Republicans 212, with three vacant seats. The California congressional delegation is much more one-sided: 42:11 in favor of the Democrats – but that’s an improvement for the GOP.
In 2020, Republicans regained four seats in the California House, and leaders are preparing to defend them and even add to that list in the upcoming midterm elections when the party that holds the White House usually loses seats.
While the GOP remains predominantly white, the party won those California seats last year with various candidates – two South Korean immigrants and two men who are sons of immigrant parents from Mexico and Portugal – and by taking advantage of voter dissatisfaction with high taxes and the Crime soared tariffs and homelessness.
California loses a seat in the House of Representatives because the counties are reallocated once a decade to reflect population shifts. That will reduce California’s representation to 52 seats in the House of Representatives, still the largest of any state.
It is difficult to make predictions about specific boroughs until new borders are announced later this year that could shadow some boroughs more Democratic and others more Republican.
But the scramble is already underway. The American Action Network, a Conservative group with ties to the House GOP leadership, has been running TV spots in the Central Valley’s Democratic MP Josh Harder district. They blame Congress Liberals for runaway spending and taxes and try to link Harder to Pelosi’s “socialist agenda”.
The failure of the recall will inevitably spark another round of introspection on how the party can become more competitive. Newsom repulsed attempts to remove it with a landslide-like lead.
It has become a routine – California Republicans lose big national races, debate change, and then lose again. In the last two races in the U.S. Senate, a Republican couldn’t even finish in the top two primaries, meaning the general election candidates were both Democrats.
With the loss of memory “What have we learned? What can we change? ”Asked Matt Shupe, who heads the Republican Party of Contra Costa County and advised GOP government candidate Kevin Faulconer during the recall. “Six months ago I thought the recall was our loss. Then we lost it. “
Shupe said unsupported rigged election claims circulated by former President Donald Trump and several other Republicans may have depressed turnout. Another disappointment in his home county was the lack of volunteer enthusiasm – those campaign soldiers knocking on doors and talking on the phone to increase voter turnout. While 400 people signed up for help, only about 30 took part, he said.
A generation ago, California was a reliable GOP victory in the presidential election. The Republican-rich suburbs of Orange County south of Los Angeles were a cornerstone of the modern conservative movement that led to the rise of the Reagan Revolution.
Over time, a changing economy and increasing diversity transformed state politics, giving California its prominent democratic orientation.
Election losses have sparked tension over whether the party will need to adjust its political compass. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a GOP centrist elected in a 2003 recall election, once recommended reducing the state party’s platform to a single site, focusing on lower taxes, limited government, and strong national defense, while overcoming national divisions gay rights and gun control and avoiding abortion.
It did not happen.
The latest round of self-examination is taking place as the national GOP continues to seek a way forward after Trump’s tumultuous presidency.
Rivalries between moderate and conservative factions have been unsettling the state party for a long time. Turnout in the recall fell far short of expectations – Trump earned 6 million votes in his loss to Joe Biden in California in 2020, but only about 4.5 million voted to recall Newsom.
And even in the midst of a heated campaign, the state’s GOP continued to lose voters – a drop of nearly 50,000 between February and August, leaving the party with roughly 24% of registered voters nationwide. Democrats make up almost 47%.
Among possible replacement candidates in the recall, centrist Faulconer was put down by Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host who supported Trump. Elder received nearly 50% of the vote from 46 candidates, but the competition became irrelevant when voters chose to keep Newsom.
Long-time conservative activist and blogger Steve Frank, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s top job in 2019, said frustration within the GOP ranks could lead some activists to operate outside the state party’s umbrella.
“You did not see that the state party is a factor in the recall,” said Frank. In the absence of meaningful voter registration, “you expect to lose”.