On the opening day of the California Republican Party’s convention, chairman Jim Brulte acknowledged serious obstacles in a state where its voter registration has dipped to a historic low and it has failed to elect a GOP politician to statewide office since 2006.
“This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for over two decades in this state,” he told reporters Friday in his ninth-floor suite at the Hyatt in Burlingame, site of the state GOP’s semiannual convention. “… So we have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands.”
But he pointed to recent victories – notably the election of Republican Kevin Faulconer as San Diego mayor earlier this year – to argue that Republicans can rebound in the state. Similar candidates – with the right message for their district, money and ground forces – can be successful across the state, Brulte said.
The former state legislative leader is notably not paying as much attention to statewide races. He said he believed at least two or three of the GOP candidates for statewide office were competitive, but he declined to name them.
“I do not buy into the concept that a Republican can’t win statewide. I just don’t believe that,” he said, before adding, “It’s not easy.”
He said the party would step in to help races where its efforts were not in isolation and had a chance of making a difference – mostly work that would be in less visible contests.
“A lot of people are like moths that like to go to the lights. The lights are those high-profile races,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time grinding it out on the ground. That is not glamorous. That is not exciting, [but] you rebuild a party from the ground up. It’s not going to happen in one election cycle. It’s not going to happen in two election cycles.
"It’s laying a foundation we think we can expand upon,” Brulte said.