Monday, May 07, 2018

California: A Cautionary Tale for the Virginia GOP

The Virginia GOP 2018 lineup of extremists primary candidates.
In last year's gubernatorial race, Ed Gillespie in the end ran a campaign based of racism and religious extremism with an added dash of tax cuts for the wealthy.  He lost by 9 points.  In this year's U.S. Senate race, all three Republican candidates for the Virginia GOP nomination are extremists and at least one, if not two, of them, in my opinion, needs a mental health intervention.  Cory Stewart is running on a neo-Confederate platform, E.W. Jackson is unhinged, thus leaving Nick Freitas looking at least slightly sane in comparison.  However, given the rabid dog nature of the GOP base nowadays, it is all to possible that the most extreme candidate could walk away with the nomination, much to the delight of Democrat incumbent, Tim Kaine. A cautionary tale for the Virginia GOP can be found in California where there is a possibility that the California GOP may not even be able to field statewide candidates this year.  Part of the reason is due to California's unique nomination process, but a larger part is the GOP's extremism.  A piece in the New York Times should be required reading for leaders of the Virginia GOP.  Here are excerpts:
For anyone wondering about the state of the Republican Party in California these days, consider this: There may be no Republican candidate for governor or United States senator on the state’s ballot this November.
It’s no secret the state’s Republican Party has been in a decline for 20 years. Its challenges have been aggravated by the election of President Trump, as he has pushed tougher policies on such issues as immigration and the environment, running up against strong and often bipartisan sentiment in California.
A field of Republican candidates for the United States Senate and governor is struggling against these headwinds as they seek to end a more than 10-year drought and elect a party member to statewide office. Under the California election system, candidates compete in an open, nonpartisan primary on June 5. The two candidates who get the most votes — regardless of party — advance to the November general election.
If Republicans fall short in capturing one of those two November slots next month, which members of both parties say is a strong possibility, it would apparently be the first election since 1914 where a major party had no candidate in either the race for senator or for governor.
“You would think that if Republicans are shut out, it will be time for some serious soul-searching.”
Two of the most powerful Republican members of the congressional leadership represent central California: Kevin McCarthy, a close ally of Mr. Trump, who is in line to become the next speaker should Republicans hold the House this November, and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee. Both are popular in their districts and wield plenty of influence in Washington.
But the Republican Party holds no statewide offices. Democrats control both houses of the State Legislature. Party registration is on the decline. And one of the potential Republican candidates for Senate who some polls suggest has at least a theoretical shot of making it to the November ballot is Patrick Little, an extremist who has called for the country to be “free from Jews.”
There have been hard-line strains in the California Republican Party for years, centered around law and order, taxes and immigration issues. But this is also a state with a moderate wing.
A group of Republicans led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor, and Chad Mayes, the former Republican Assembly leader, have begun a campaign to move the party to the center . . . But that effort has run up against Republican candidates and elected officials who have tied their success to Mr. Trump and his administration’s policies.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republicans like Mayes are completely wrong,” Travis Allen, a Republican candidate for governor and member of the Assembly, said in an interview.
The division over the future of the party was on full display the other night at a forum sponsored by the North Orange County Republican Women’s Federated Dinner for Mr. Allen and another Republican candidate for governor, John Cox, a businessman — the only two Republicans in a very crowded field who appear to have a chance to capture one of the top two spots in the primary.
A few moments later, both candidates told the moderator that they firmly supported Mr. Trump’s call to build a wall along the Mexican border. . . . Mr. Mayes, who was ousted as the Republican leader of the State Assembly after he negotiated a Republican vote-delivering compromise with Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, on legislation to curb greenhouse emissions, said that sentiment threatened to further distance the party from voters.
Mr. Mayes added. “We need to come to grips with reality and understand the electorate in California has changed. We have to go to them. We are not going to win elections until we figure that out.”
The prospect that there may be no Republican candidate for Senate or governor this November casts both short-term and long-term threats for the party.
For this election, it could complicate efforts to draw Republicans to the polls in a year when Democrats are looking to oust as many as seven endangered Republican members of Congress. . . . For the long term, it is a reminder of just how little influence the party has statewide. Republicans failed to win a spot on the 2016 ballot for Senate as well.
One of the key points of contention with the Republican Party in the state is immigration. It has been a complication for Republicans since California voters passed an initiative pushed by the Republican governor, Pete Wilson, in 1994 to prohibit illegal immigrants from getting state social services. That initiative, which was thrown out in court, was seen as one of the critical reasons for the party’s decline, as the Latino population in this state has continued to grow, and as California became more Democratic.
Democrats make up nearly 45 percent of the total number of registered voters in the state. Republicans account for about 25 percent, just slightly ahead of the percentage of voters who declined to pick a party registration.
Trump himself has emerged as a critical issue as Republicans try to chart a path forward. Mr. Trump lost California by nearly four million votes, and he remains consistently unpopular overall. But he is popular with Republican primary voters, and candidates have lined up behind him.

Frankly, until the GOP ejects many of the Christian extremists and white supremacists from its base, I see little changing.  Hopefully, in both California and Virginia, 2018 will be a bad year for Republicans. 

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