California Republicans meet this weekend at their State Convention in Sacramento to discuss their nominations process in the aftermath of Proposition 14. It may seem like a mundane inside baseball debate, but it is one that will have a tremendous impact on Republican Party, its candidates and their ability to win future elections.
California’s highest ranking Congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy has become active in this debate because he thinks he can help. He is without a doubt one of the leading national architects of the Republican takeover of Congress. He has won and he’s not afraid to share his story to strengthen his party.
McCarthy is not your ordinary Congressman. He is an unwavering conservative who served in our state capital as Assembly Republican Leader. He got good marks for rallying Republicans, holding strong to conservative principles and keeping his caucus united. He ran for Congress, won, and immediately stepped into the limelight of the Congressional Leadership.
McCarthy started the “Young Guns” program with respected conservatives like U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee. The three worked together to recruit young men and women all over the country to run for the United States Congress as Republicans. The result: a Republican take-over of 65 seats in Congress and success at the ballot box everywhere except California and Oregon.
McCarthy addressed California Republican Party delegates last night to tell his story. He contrasted the differences between the process for party endorsements that he, Senate Leader Dutton, Assembly Leader Conway, and Senator Tony Strickland support and the one proposed by the current party chairman.
McCarthy talked about his ascension from his local central committee and what he knew then versus what he now knows about a bigger picture Republican Party. His approach is genuine in its intent to unite a broken California Republican Party and win more elections. It’s clear that he sees a bigger picture, fearing disenfranchisement among our men and women in uniform and rank and file Republicans if the alternative plan is adopted. He wants Republicans of all walks of life to engage in the political process rather than being left out.
At its core, the McCarthy-Dutton-Conway plan is focused on the fact that Republican voters should decide who their nominees are – not party insiders.
McCarthy cites a recent example of the danger of backroom party deals to nominate candidates. Specifically, he discussed the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District where party bosses picked Dede Scozzafava – a candidate whose views were at odds with Republicans in her district on health care and economic issues. He talked about how backroom decisions to nominate her without a vote of Republicans in her district alienated those most likely to vote in her 2009 special election. That action, he said, nearly ruined all the good work that had been done to recruit candidates to run nationwide to run for Congress.
This weekend Republican delegates can heed the advice of McCarthy, Conway, Dutton, Strickland, and other conservatives with a positive track record with voters, party donors, and the business community and win or they can adopt the alterative plan which clearly leaves politicos who benefit from the process to make the decisions.
In the wake of major Sacramento drama over the state budget, Assembly and Senate Republicans have received threats not just from organized labor but also from what Jerry Brown calls “extreme elements” of the Republican Party.
It’s time for California Republicans to end the bickering, name-calling, and silly school nonsense and focus on winning.
The only real question Delegates must ask themselves is this -
Will the California Republican Party support our elected officials – those chosen by the votes to lead – or continue down a path of mutually assured destruction?
We’ll find out this weekend.
~ Judy Lloyd is an East Bay businesswoman who served as an appointee of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. She ran the state legislative outreach program for “Contract With America” at the Republican National Committee in 1994.