The California Young Republicans convene this weekend in Los Angeles, buoyed by a rise in their membership in recent months and by attention from party elders that they believe will further boost their ranks.
“The Young Republicans is a revitalized organization,” said Cathy Ferrar, 30, of Glendale, the group’s state chairman. “A year ago only one county had more than one club; now there are multiple clubs in San Diego, Santa Barbara and Riverside counties. One of our most active clubs is in San Francisco, of all places. You always think of that city as very Democrat.”
Like the other activist groups in the state party, the Young Republicans represent only a fraction of the total party registration. Ferrar said there are 4,000 dues-paying members, about half of whom attend meetings regularly. Total Republican registration in California is 4.6 million, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Activists Help Registration
But Ferrar and others in the group contend that the young activists--whose ages range from 18 to the late 30s--help boost party registration drives and form important volunteer networks at election time.
Some of them are also giving money to the group’s political action committee, according to Ferrar, who estimated that the PAC now receives $10,000 a month in contributions.
When President Reagan attended a state GOP fund-raiser in Los Angeles last year, he saluted the Young Republicans, pointing to poll data showing that 60% of the voters under the age of 30 had cast their ballots for him in 1984.
Gov. George Deukmejian paid special tribute to the California Young Republicans at another party fund-raiser earlier this year.
‘Healthy Effect’ on GOP
“The governor acknowledged the healthy effect the Young Republicans are having on the party,” said Roman Buhler, 36, a longtime Los Angeles party activist. “That was a far cry from the years when the group was so torn by infighting that it was considered an embarrassment.”
Buhler was referring to the turmoil that plagued the organization in the 1970s as ultraconservatives and moderates battled for dominance. There are still both elements in the California Young Republicans today, but Buhler said he does not expect acrimony to disrupt the organization’s convention this weekend at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton.
There could be some spirited debate, though, after the Republican U.S. Senate candidates speak to the group on Saturday. All seven contenders have youthful supporters, but Buhler said he expects two of the candidates in particular to enliven the convention--Rep. Ed Zschau of Los Altos and former broadcast commentator Bruce Herschensohn of Los Angeles.