Republicans Rally at Convention
By Alexander KELEDJIAN
In 1966, California GOP Chairman Gaylord Parkinson stated (even though Ronald Reagan gained fame for saying it), “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” At the recent state Republican Party convention in San Burlington, over 1,000 Republicans broke this historic commandment.
As a California Republican Party delegate, I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in the governing process of the state GOP. Two weeks ago was the spring convention and, unlike the past conventions I attended, this was the most crucial gathering of them all. This convention determined the future course of the California Republican Party.
The California GOP is at its lowest point. Party registration is lower than 30%, the donor base is slowly evaporating, and the democrats control both houses of the state legislature and all the statewide offices.
Even with all these negative factors, party loyalists were celebrating the victory of San Diego mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer. Faulconer ran in an area with a double-digit Democratic voter registration advantage. His victory proved that republicans can win in a Democratic area.
In addition, hundreds of people gathered to see the presentation by GROW Elect. GROW Elect is a political action committee that recruits, endorses, trains and funds Latino Republican candidates for public office, according to its website. It is expected that GROW Elect will be a huge power player in the state Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee.
A convention highlight was when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the stage to address the crowd.
Saturday and Sunday were the days when the party’s dirty laundry was out in the open. Every single race in California, whether it was a congressional, senate, or assembly seat, was dwarfed by the race for governor.
The conservative state assemblyman, Tim Donnelly, is in a fierce battle for the Republican nomination against the moderate ex-U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari. There were hundreds of Donnelly and Kashkari posters, literature, stickers and shirts in evidence on the convention floor. In addition, the supporters of each candidate were constantly bashing the opposing candidate. It is turning out to be a very vicious battle for the nomination.
During Sunday’s session, party leaders allowed Kashkari and Donnelly to address the delegates. When Kashkari took the stage, he was greeted with a very respectful round of applause. His speech was very informative and inspirational. But when Donnelly took the stage, he was welcomed with a sea of applause, cheers and cries of joy. It was as if Donnelly, unofficially, received the party’s endorsement. It did not matter what the two men were discussing, the only thing that mattered – and what people noticed – was how loud the applause was when each individual spoke.
The approach and beliefs of the California GOP will change depending on who garners the nomination. Will it stay in its conservative course as Donnelly would like to see it, or will it slide into the more moderate column as Kashkari is trying to push it?
As always, it’s up to the voters to decide.