California Republican Party convention full coverage: Every moment from protests through the last speeches


Welcome to a special edition of Essential Politics, our live feed from the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame. Here’s a quick glance at what happened at the weekend event.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter and keep an eye on the latimespolitics Snapchat account for a behind-the-scenes look at the convention.

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Most seats empty when Republican Senate candidates take stage at state convention

California Republicans running for the U.S. Senate have struggled to catch the eye of voters consumed by the wild race for the GOP presidential nomination, and it wasn’t any easier for them at this weekend’s state Republican Party convention.

The three-day event drew an at-capacity crowd — as well as throngs of protesters and reporters — to hear presidential contenders Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The three were given prime speaking slots to address the state GOP’s full delegation.

The crew of Republican Senate candidates, by contrast, were given eight minutes each to speak to delegates on Sunday afternoon, the final event of the day.

By the time they took the stage, the hotel ballroom that hours ago held hundreds had thinned out to about 60 people.

Tom Del Beccaro, one of the top Republicans running, tried to put a positive spin on the tough task of following Trump, Cruz and Kasich this weekend. Del Beccaro said he worked the hallways and ballrooms throughout the three-day convention, signing up volunteers for his campaign and appealing for support.

“Obviously, they have been the main story,” Del Beccaro said of the presidential candidates. “But the increased enthusiasm brought more people here, so it was an overall plus.”

GOP rival George “Duf” Sundheim held a “Tweet up with Duf” event Saturday night. Republican Ron Unz, who championed a 1998 initiative to end bilingual education, plastered the lobbies with deep-green “Keep English-Vote Ron Unz” signs and mingled with delegates.

Of the 12 Republicans running for Senate, 10 spoke on Sunday.

Longshot contender Karen Roseberry, a substitute teacher from the Antelope Valley, took that opportunity to lash out at the Republican Party for its “half-baked” efforts in California’s U.S. Senate race.

“We’ve checked out,” she told the small crowd.

During his short speech, Del Beccaro emphasized his support for a new federal “flat tax” and his plan to help the U.S. economy grow. Sundheim said he would help bring respect back to America after what he called the failed foreign policy of the Obama administration. Unz highlighted his successful effort to limit bilingual instruction in public schools.

The top Democrats in the race, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Santa Ana, lead the Republicans in the race by a wide margin, according to a recent Field poll. The survey found that Harris had support from 24% of likely primary voters, and Sanchez was backed by 14%. Among the top three Republicans, Unz had 5%, Del Beccaro came in at 4% and Sundheim had 2%.

Close to half of those polled said they were undecided.

Richard Alvarez, a Republican delegate from San Diego County, fears that none of the Republicans will be on the ballot in November. Under California’s “jungle primary” rules, the two candidates who receive the most votes in the June 7 primary will advance to the November general election, even if they belong to the same party.

“There are too many Republicans running. They’re going to split the vote,” Alvarez said. “That’s not good.”

Richard Marshall, chairman of the Siskiyou County Republican Central Committee, praised Sundheim for being the only candidate who traveled all the way up to Yreka to campaign, but remains undecided.

“We need to obviously have a candidate who can hopefully can win in a Democrat-slanted state,” Marshall said. “I don’t know who that is right now.”


GOP Senate candidates not exactly attracting a big crowd at party convention


Republicans say no to legalized pot, condoms for porn actors and a cigarette tax hike

The California Republican Party stuck mostly to its conservative roots Sunday, opposing proposed ballot initiatives to legalize pot, increase cigarette taxes and require background checks for people buying ammunition.

Those were among the slate of initiatives expected to appear on the November ballot that Republicans considered Sunday at the party’s spring convention in Burlingame.

The only mild surprise was the party’s support for a $9-billion school bond measure which had faced opposition from some fiscal conservatives. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the measure.

The measure would provide $9 billion in bonds for building and upgrading K-12 facilities, and includes $2 billion for community college projects.

The decision to support the measure passed on a close, hotly contested vote among GOP delegates.

Among the measures opposed by the party:

  • Marijuana: The so-called Adult Use of Marijuana Act would legalize recreational pot use, allowing those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce. The measure would impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug and require the state to regulate the cultivation, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana.

  • Cigarette taxes: The proposal would hike cigarette taxes by $2 a pack to fund healthcare programs and tobacco-use prevention.

  • Gun rights: The so-called the Safety for All Act would require background checks for ammunition purchases and ban possession of large-capacity magazines.

  • Death penalty: A measure that would eliminate death sentences and replace them with a sentence of life without parole.

  • Condoms: An initiative that would require porn actors to wear condoms.

  • English-only education: A measure that would repeal key parts of Proposition 227, the 1998 law that restricted bilingual education in California by requiring school instruction in English.

Among those that won party support:


Ralph Reed to California Republicans: Presidential primary wounds will heal

On the final day of the California Republican Party convention, evangelical leader Ralph Reed told a breakfast gathering that the rancor of this GOP presidential primary won’t cause backers of losing candidates to stay home in November.

“A voter who’s with you in the primary is going to vote for you in the general [election],” he said on party allegiance.

“It’s never true. They get over it, you know.”

Reed, the one-time leader of the politically powerful Christian Coalition, now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The social welfare nonprofit, he said, is “strictly neutral” during the Republican primary campaign.

In his remarks to a crowd of a few dozen Republican convention attendees Sunday morning, Reed criticized — but cautiously — the state party’s record on grassroots outreach.

“You can’t go out and just find a self-funder who’s going to write a big check,” he told the group.

“Our job is to persuade, not just to preach, not just to lecture, not just to say, ‘You’re wrong and we’re right.’ We have to speak in a way so that our speech, as the book of Proverbs says, is seasoned with grace.”

Reed then admitted to the crowd what it probably already knew: That hasn’t exactly been the tone of this presidential primary.

As he mingled with the audience afterward, Reed could be heard praising both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. So what about Donald Trump?

“Trump’s a friend,” he said to reporters. “He’s pro-life, he believes marriage should be defined as a man and a woman, he’s a strong supporter of Israel.”

And he disagreed that Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration could prove to be a problem with Latino voters.

“When you go the Hispanics and say, ‘I believe in the rule of law,’ that doesn’t cost you the Hispanic vote, as long as you make it clear that your vision for the future of the country includes them.”


State GOP extends term limits for party chairman

The California Republican Party on Sunday voted to extend the term limits for its current chairman, Jim Brulte.

The change makes Brulte eligible to serve two additional two-year terms.

Brulte is credited with helping turn around the party’s finances and launching a rebuilding process to make the GOP politically relevant again in California.

“We’re on the road to recovery,” Michael Osborn, chairman of the Ventura County Republican Party, a prime supporter of the change. “He has a plan and vision that gets us where we need to be.”

Republican delegates at the party’s spring convention overwhelmingly passed the measure. Previously, chairs of the party were limited to two terms.

The change was written in a way to make it apply only to Brulte, so it will not affect future party chiefs.

Brulte, a former state Senate Republican leader from Rancho Cucamonga, took over as chairman in 2013 at a time when the party was in disarray and in massive debt. He was reelected in 2015.


Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed speaks at convention prayer breakfast


With her early reveal as running mate, Fiorina says she ‘checked the box for Ted Cruz’

Carly Fiorina took to her new role as Ted Cruz’s would-be running mate on Saturday, lashing out at his rivals and defending him from critics.

Fiorina, who ended her presidential run in February after losing badly in Iowa and New Hampshire, urged Ohio Gov. John Kasich to exit the presidential race.

“I suspended my presidential campaign because there was no path to victory. I actually wish John Kasich would get the memo, because you see if you lose 49 out of 50 states, you will not be the nominee,” Fiorina told a couple hundred people at the dinner meeting of the California Republican Party convention. “It isn’t going to happen. Here in the state of California, like in the state of Indiana, a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.”

Fiorina flew in from Indiana — which holds its primary Tuesday — for her brief remarks in front of a few hundred people before returning to the Hoosier State. It was her first appearance in front of California Republicans since she was their 2010 Senate nominee and lost to Barbara Boxer by 10 points.

She barely mentioned that race, but noted that her name was still on the presidential primary ballot in Virginia’s March 1 primary, and that she hesitated when she saw her name.

“But then I thought, why did I run? I ran because we need a fighter, I ran because we need a constitutional conservative, and I checked the box for Ted Cruz,” Fiorina said.

She met with him a week or so later and decided to endorse him. Seven weeks later, Cruz picked Fiorina as his would-be running mate. During their time together on the campaign trail, Fiorina said she admired Cruz, viewing him as a husband, a father to two young daughters and a friend to people such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

“Say, I’d rather have a friend like Mike Lee than John Boehner,” Fiorina said, poking at the former House speaker, who called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” earlier in the week.

Boehner is among many Republicans in Washington who do not have fond feelings for Cruz. Fiorina pointed to such critics as proof that Cruz would upend the nation’s capital.

“As someone who’s challenged the status quo all my life, that’s how you go from a secretary to a CEO — you have to challenge the system,” Fiorina said. “You do more than ruffle feathers, you do more than rock the boat. You make enemies. It is the price of leadership.”


It’s a wrap for Fiorina and Day 2 of the state GOP convention


Fiorina takes on ‘corrupt’ government


Fiorina: She hopes Kasich will ‘get the memo’ and drop out


Cruz campaign looking to Central Valley for support


Fiorina opens by revisiting issues from 2010 Senate run


Carly Fiorina about to take stage at state GOP convention


Congressional candidate hands out ‘ISIS Hunting Permit’ stickers


California Republican Party continues its climb back to fiscal stability

As the California Repuiblican Party’s spring convention heads into the home stretch of the three-day weekend, it’s worth pointing out just how far the organization has come in balancing the books.

State campaign finance reports filed Thursday show the party has raised more than $2.5 million this year, with more than a third of that money coming in over the last month.

Better yet for the GOP faithful, the party reported $4.5 million cash on hand. By comparison, the state party had only about $155,000 in cash at end of 2012 — about three months before Jim Brulte, a former GOP legislative leader, was elected chairman. This weekend, the party may modify its rules to allow Brulte to seek another term as chairman.

Even so, Republicans continue to be outpaced by Democrats. In its new campaign filing, the California Democratic Party reported raising $8.7 million in the first few months of 2016 and had a whopping $15.9 million in cash on hand.

The new reports also detail a bit of what GOP leaders had to shell out for the weekend convention. The party reported a $100,000 deposit to the Hyatt Regency Burlingame, site of the event. Party leaders also paid a few thousand dollars to vendors for logistics help for the weekend.

The smallest pre-convention payment that was easily identifiable: security services. No doubt the amount of that budget item will go up after Friday’s tense standoff with protesters who showed up to welcome Donald Trump.


Republicans leaning against ballot measure to repeal English-only education law

An influential Republican Party committee came out in opposition to a November state ballot measure that would repeal key parts of Proposition 227, the 1998 law that restricted bilingual education in California by requiring school instruction in English.

The panel also opposed an initiative to require actors in adult films to use condoms, but came out in support of a $9-billion bond measure for school construction.

The party’s initiatives committee, led by its chairman, Republican donor Charles Munger Jr., sorts through ballot measures expected to be on the June and November ballots to recommend whether the state GOP should support, oppose or remain neutral on the measures.

Those recommendations will come up for a vote Sunday before the full delegation attending the California Republican Party convention.


Tim Donnelly is one of few congressional candidates at state convention

Sporting a black cap emblazoned with the letters “NRA” and carrying a stack of donation envelopes in his hand, Tim Donnelly stood at the entrance to the California Republican Convention and looked for help.

The former assemblyman, Republican gubernatorial candidate and tea party favorite needs all the money and help he can get if he wants to unseat Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley).

Supporter Marti Overfield of Tehachapi greeted Donnelly to wish him luck in the House race. Donnelly pounced.

“Can you give these out in Techacipi?” he asked, handing over a stack of envelopes. “Spread the word.”

Donnelly, who left his radio show last month to challenge Cook, is at a major cash disadvantage. He had just $11,638 in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

Cook meanwhile ended the same quarter with over $900,000 in cash on hand. And a political action committee just spent spending $18,750 on radio ads to support Cook this week.

So Donnelly is out pressing the flesh with partisans asking for cash and for supporters to help run a phone bank for him. At the convention, he visited a breakout group called “Save the Second Amendment” and made his pitch there.

Other Republicans either seeking reelection or looking to win their first seat stayed at home over the weekend.

Neither of the Republican contenders to replace Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) — businessman Justin Fareed and state Assemblyman K.H. “Katcho” Achadjian — showed up.

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Lancaster) also stayed away, though he is facing two Democratic opponents in the June primary, including one, Bryan Caforio, who outraised him last quarter.

Most candidates don’t have a weekend to spare with the primary fast approaching, said Matt Rexroad, Knight’s political consultant.

That left Donnelly as one of the few congressional candidates working the convention.

After all, his brand of tea party conservatism is a good fit for the Donald Trump-era distrust of “establishment” politicians.

Asked who he is supporting for president, Donnelly responded: “I am supporting the insurgency.”

He said he would support either Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.


Ted Cruz’s attack on Trump donations falls flat for some

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for his history of making campaign contributions to Democratic candidates in California when he spoke to the state’s Republican party Saturday.

Though it’s unclear how effective the line of attack will be, some GOP supporters were willing to give Trump a pass. After all, they said, he is a businessman.

Marcia Gilchrist, a 79-year-old retiree from Orange, said she already knew about the contributions and wasn’t fazed by them.

“I don’t know if he really supports them or if he was buying favors. I guess for him, it is favors,” she said. “I do think people need to know that.”

She said she is planning on voting for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Trump gave three of California’s top Democrats -- Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris -- a combined $12,000. The total wasn’t enough to worry Mary Elsbree, an undecided voter from Marin County.

“He is a businessman, he is going to be giving to many candidates,” she said. “It makes Cruz look bad by pointing it out. [Trump] wasn’t running for public office at the time.”

The two echoed Trump’s own defense of his contributions.

“I gave to many people,” he said at the first GOP debate in Simi Valley last year. “Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”

Trump supporter Alice Schoessow of Monterey said the candidates could have turned down Trump’s money.

“I didn’t see any of them refusing his money.

“He doesn’t need the money. He was his own power. His name is power,” she said of the Republican front-runner.


Carly the Californian?


‘Melania Trump For First Lady’


On presidential picks, Republican loyalists are just as split as the rest of the U.S.

Now that the top GOP presidential contenders — Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz — have come and gone from the California Republican Party’s convention, Pam Levin is zeroing in on which candidate to back. Kind of.

“Right now, today: Trump,” she said. “Tomorrow, I may feel differently.”

Trump and Kasich addressed the Republican delegates on Friday, and Saturday it was Cruz’s turn.

Levin, who is retired and lives in Palm Desert, described Cruz’s speech as a pretty standard stump speech, saying it wasn’t exactly inspiring.

Trump, in contrast, has gotten Republicans across the U.S. excited again, she said.

“It shows the people of this country are angry, and they’re looking for a populist,” Levin said.

Matthew Martin of Bakersfield sat next to Levin during Cruz’s luncheon address, and the two were having a congenial but frank discussion about the differences between Cruz and Trump. Martin is a big Cruz backer.

“His voice isn’t as good. His appearance isn’t as good. What draws me to him is that he’s a strict constitutionalist,” said Martin, who serves as chairman of the Kern County Republican Party.

Vicky Reinke, a retiree from Angels Camp in Calaveras County, said Cruz was the heavy favorite among Republican loyalists at this weekend’s convention. Reinke, who is a local party official, said she’s remaining neutral.

“I’m still thinking about it. I don’t oppose either one,” she said.


In convention speech, Cruz hits at familiar themes — with a California twist

GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Saturday predicted a fierce battle in California, with the state’s June 7 primary deciding the Republican nominee.

He was introduced by former Gov. Pete Wilson, who announced his endorsement of the Texas senator. Cruz peppered his speech with references to the state, from Californians launching the career of President Ronald Reagan to it being the home state of his wife, Heidi and the one-time home of his newly announced running mate, Carly Fiorina.

Cruz struck familiar themes, arguing that this election was critical because the balance of the Supreme Court is at stake, and focusing his half-hour of remarks on jobs, freedom and national security. But he added a few California twists, such as slamming the federal government’s reduction of water allotments to farms in a bid to save the endangered delta smelt. The decision has led to the loss of more than 17,000 agricultural jobs, he said.

Cruz argued that if the Endangered Species Act was modified so that developers or farmers were permitted to do their business if they increased a species’ population by a certain amount, rather than having their projects blocked in an effort to save the species in a specific area, it would create a “win-win” solution for all parties.

“You put up a disco ball, play some Barry White, you let nature take its course,” he joked.

Cruz railed against GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who addressed the convention on Friday, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as “flip sides of the same coin,” sharing similar positions on issues such as healthcare, Israel and the Iranian nuclear deal.


Here’s what Trump contributed to Kamala Harris, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom

It looks like one of Sen. Ted Cruz’s central tactics in California will be attacking Donald Trump for his political contributions to three of California’s top Democrats: Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.

He put out a statement referring to them as “extreme liberals” Saturday and brought up the donations again in his speech at the California GOP convention luncheon.

Here are the contributions Trump has made to the trio:

Trump has also given to Republicans in California — but not for 10 years.

He gave $25,000 to the state party in 2005 and $12,000 to support former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Time will tell if the attack sticks in the minds of California Republican voters.


Cruz: California will decide the GOP nominee for president

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told California Republicans on Saturday that the state was at a crossroads where it would decide the party’s nominee for president on June 7.

Candidates usually treat California as an ATM for campaign money, the GOP presidential candidate told a crowd of hundreds at the state party convention in Burlingame.

“We’re going to spend more in California than we’re going to raise in California,” said Cruz, who was scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the Montecito home of CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Andrew Puzder after the convention. “But for any of you who have your checkbooks handy, I would be glad for you to prove me wrong.”

The Texas senator played up the California roots of his running mate, Carly Fiorina.

“Carly will be the first Californian on a national ticket since Ronald Reagan,” he said.

Cruz also turned to attack Donald Trump as he reeled off the names of California’s top Democrats like a rogue’s gallery to excoriate the GOP front-runner for giving them campaign money.

Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris: All of them backed policies detrimental to the state, and Trump gave them a combined $12,000, Cruz said.

“You all are experiencing first hand the consequence of those misguided liberal policies,” Cruz said.

He continued to hammer Trump by criticizing him for giving money to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.


Cruz on California primary’s importance


Cruz takes on environmentalists


‘He is a man of faith, a family man, he loves his country’

Ted Cruz supporters Earl and Judy DeVries of Ontario attend the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, Calif.
Ted Cruz supporters Earl and Judy DeVries of Ontario attend the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, Calif.
(Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Call them Mr. and Mrs. Cruz.

Even in a convention center filled with the candidate’s signs and T-shirts, Earl and Judy DeVries stand out.

Credit his Santa Claus beard and vivid red shirt. And her top hat covered in Cruz pins.

The two drove in from Ontario to catch Cruz’s lunchtime speech. It paid off: Judy scored Cruz’s signature on her pin reading “I’m Pro Life!”

She has been backing him since Bobby Jindal dropped out of the race, she said.

“He is a man of faith, a family man, he loves his country,” she said.

“He is pro-life; that is big for us,” Earl said.

Standing in the atrium of the convention center, Diana Forster, 77, handed out “2016 Cruz” stickers.

Forster, a Morgan Hill resident, said she is backing Cruz because she trusts his conservative bona fides, something she can’t say about Donald Trump.

“I’m not sure he is a conservative,” she said. “He has supported a lot of Democrats. He is a pragmatist.”


Cruz blasts Trump’s donations to ‘extreme liberals’ Brown, Newsom and Harris

Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign blasted Donald Trump for his donations to “extreme liberals” California Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in a statement released before the candidate’s luncheon speech at the California GOP convention.

Calling the three “perhaps the most liberal group of top state officials in the country,” the Texas senator accused Trump of helping “reignite” Brown’s career by donating $3,500 to his earlier campaign for attorney general. Cruz continued by hitting Trump for backing Newsom, whom he called “America’s most liberal mayor,” and for donating thousands to Harris’ campaigns for attorney general in 2011 and 2013.

The release notes that Trump “has not donated to the CAGOP since 2005.”

“Donald Trump has consistently financed the campaigns of some of the most liberal politicians in the country,” Cruz said in the release. “California is perhaps one of the more egregious examples. From supporting high taxes and heavy regulation to amnesty and sanctuary cities, the top three officials in California have been a disaster for the state. A number of qualified Republican candidates ran to fix California’s problems, but Trump decided to back liberal Democrats against them.”


Cruz crew out in force ahead of candidate’s speech


Pete Wilson endorses Ted Cruz for president

Former California Gov. Pete Wilson jumped into the presidential fray Saturday, announcing his endorsement of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in front of a packed house at the state Republican Party’s spring convention.

“He is committed to preserving our constitutional liberties,” Wilson told the crowd, and then took a subtle dig at GOP rival Donald Trump. “We can’t afford a wild card.”

Wilson became one of the most polarizing political figures in recent California history after advocating for Proposition 187, the ballot measure that would have barred public services for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

The measure is largely blamed for driving California’s growing number of Latino voters away from the Republican Party and for the GOP’s diminished influence in the state.

Cruz, who is running behind Trump in polls of likely GOP voters in the state’s June 7 primary, has called for a crackdown on illegal immigration and said he supports deporting the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally.


Republicans cold on measure to legalize pot in California

A proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California isn’t getting much love from state Republicans.

An influential California Republican Party committee on Saturday voted to oppose a proposed statewide ballot measure, known as the Adult Use Act, which would allow those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of pot.

A proponent of the marijuana measure had urged the committee to remain neutral, but members instead voted to oppose. The full state GOP membership, meeting in Burlingame for their spring convention, will vote on whether to support that measure and others expected to be on the November ballot on Sunday.

Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn., told the committee that the initiative would tightly regulate the use, sale and production of the state’s billion-dollar marijuana industry, taking it off the illegal black market and out of the shadows.

“What we’re trying to do is control a product that’s here now,” Bradley said. “This is about fixing a broken policy.”

Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber adamantly opposed the measure, telling the committee that marijuana was an “entry level” drug that leads to addiction.

“We must not turn this plague loose on our children and the people of California,” Nielsen told Bradley.

The senator also took a shot at one of the main proponents of the Adult Use Act, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom ahas announced a 2018 bid for governor.

“Let’s not give Gavin Newsom another plank,” Nielsen said.

The measure would impose a 15% tax on retail sales of cannabis and require the state to regulate the cultivation, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana. Supporters include former Facebook President Sean Parker, one of the main financial backers of the intiative.

The measure is expected to be on the ballot in the November general election, though proponents are still gathering the signatures from registered voters necessary to qualify.


Cruz on Kamala Harris: ‘Queen of Sanctuary Cities’


Scenes from the Ted Cruz 2016 leadership meeting


Now watching from sidelines, former U.S. Senate candidate misses the race

This is not the way Assemblyman Rocky Chavez expected to be spending the weekend at the California Republican Party convention.

The Oceanside Republican was an early candidate for the U.S. Senate, and garnered a fair amount of media attention for his effort to turn around the party’s losing streak in statewide races.

“I think that’s what I offered, a different message,” he said in a brief hallway interview on Saturday morning.

But in February, just minutes into a radio debate with other GOP candidates, Chavez walked away from the race and opted to run for reelection to the Assembly.

Chavez admits that he misses the race and thinks too much attention is being paid to the leading Democrats, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

“I think there’s a real opportunity in California for Republicans,” said Chavez.

And the former Marine colonel, who supports Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president, didn’t mince words about Friday’s GOP appearance by Donald Trump.

“I’d give him a ‘C’ for showing up. As far as content, I’d give him an ‘F’.”


Initial OK given to lift state GOP head’s term limits


Ted Cruz makes a push for California, but polls not in his favor

He has selected a running mate and forged a half-baked alliance with a rival — all this week.

As Texas Sen. Ted Cruz heads to California on Saturday to speak at the state GOP convention, his campaign is in need of a jolt to try to blunt the momentum of front-runner Donald Trump, who this week secured decisive wins in five East Coast primaries.

And, perhaps, California could be Cruz’s best shot.

His campaign has built a statewide network of volunteers and he’s taken the time to allow Republicans in the state to get to know him, appearing often on conservative talk radio in the Central Valley and Southern California.

But those efforts have not been rewarded in surveys of California Republicans.

Several polls of likely Republican voters show Trump in a strong position to win a majority of the 172 delegates in the June 7 primary. An average of three polls from the past month in California has Trump up 17 percentage points over Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third candidate in the race.

In California, the vast majority of delegates are awarded — three at a time — to the winner of each of the state’s 53 congressional districts. Thirteen at-large delegates go to the candidate who wins statewide.

For Cruz, it’s all about keeping Trump from the coveted 1,237 delegates that would allow the billionaire businessman to secure the GOP nomination. And with Trump ahead of him by more than 400 pledged delegates, and fewer and fewer contests remaining, time and math are not on Cruz’s side.


U.S. Senate candidate Ron Unz brings his English-only message to state convention


Hillary Clinton-themed carnival games kick off early at state GOP convention


Ted Cruz shirts, signage everywhere as Day 2 begins


Pete Wilson: Surprise speaker for Ted Cruz at California GOP gathering

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Pete Wilson, the former California governor whose campaign against illegal immigration touched off decades of election troubles for Republicans, will make a surprise appearance Saturday at the state GOP convention on behalf of presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, according to people familiar with the matter.

Wilson arrived Friday night in Burlingame, where the Texas senator will be the featured lunch speaker at the convention hotel near San Francisco International Airport.

In a brief conversation late Friday night, Wilson confirmed he would speak to the gathering on Saturday, but declined to discuss the presidential race. Former governors typically get star billing at a state party convention.

Ron Nehring, the chairman of Cruz’s California campaign, did not respond to requests for comment.

Cruz, who is running behind Donald Trump in polls of likely GOP voters in the state’s June 7 primary, plans to meet privately with some of his potential California delegates Saturday morning.

Trump’s appearance at the convention Friday drew hundreds of protesters, who tossed rocks and eggs at police in riot gear, shoved and spit at supporters of the New York developer and burned him in effigy.

Wilson has had his own troubles at state GOP gatherings, but within his own party. When he was governor in the early 1990s, Republicans tarred-and-feathered an effigy of Wilson to protest a tax hike that he signed to close a big budget gap.

In his 1994 campaign for reelection, Wilson championed Proposition 187, the ballot measure that would have barred public services for immigrants in the country illegally. The backlash severely damaged the Republican Party in California, with growing numbers of Latino and Asian voters siding decisively with Democrats in elections ever since.

Republicans, including failed gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman in 2010 and Neel Kashkari in 2014, often tout Wilson’s support during primaries, only to see it turned against them in the general election when Democratic rivals use his name to suggest they are hostile to Latinos.


Images from the California Republican Party Convention, Day 1

The Times has two photographers capturing every big moment in Burlingame.

Read More


Some perspective on Trump’s Friday journey


Donald Trump’s choice words for protesters

Read More


‘It’s a steep climb,’ says Kasich of his path to GOP presidential nomination

Ohio Gov. John Kasich presented himself Friday as the sole candidate in the GOP presidential race with an optimistic vision for how to fix the nation, drawing a sharp contrast with GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

“We don’t want to divide, we don’t want to polarize, we want to be the party of hope,” Kasich told a couple hundred supporters at the California Republican Party’s convention. “Not hope from pie in the sky, unrealistic dreams, but a party that will remember it is the people — the people, who can make a difference.”

Kasich spoke hours after Trump addressed the convention. Kasich did not mention Trump by name, but clearly alluded to him.

“I’ve chosen in this campaign not to live on the dark side of human nature,” Kasich said. “I know people are angry, I know they’re anxious. I know they have doubts.”

Leaders have two options — to prey upon that fear or acknowledge the problems while also seeking solutions, Kasich said.

“I’m worried about a divided, polarized country and it does not have to be that way,” he said. “We can solve these problems and bring people together and give them hope again.”

Kasich described his upbringing and his experience as a former congressman and as the current Ohio governor. He praised traditional GOP ideals — limited government, greater power in the states, reducing the nation’s debt. But he also spoke sympathetically about the need to care for the mentally ill, the drug addicted and others who are in need.

It’s a message that has failed to resonate in the presidential campaign, with Kasich winning only one state to date — his home state of Ohio. He badly trails Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in votes and delegates, and is counting on a contested convention where he emerges as the consensus choice to take on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Speaking to reporters before the speech, Kasich acknowledged that “it’s a steep climb.”

“I didn’t fall off the turnip truck on the way to California,” he said. “I know it’s tough. So what. I’ve been in tough fights before and I’m just going to keep on moving forward because I think it’s critical this country has a choice.”


Editorial boards love Kasich


Kasich’s California chairman returns to GOP spotlight for first time since 2006

The man who introduced Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Friday night’s GOP convention dinner made it feel like it was 2006 all over again.

“Folks, this man can win in November,” said Steve Poizner as he wandered the stage with a hand-held microphone. “This man must win in November.”

Poizner could have been forgiven if he had any nostalgia for his own time in the limelight of the state convention spotlight.

Poizner, 59, hasn’t been seen in a visible role at a state GOP gathering since the 2010 race for governor — the year he lost a bitter gubernatorial primary to fellow Silicon Valley business executive Meg Whitman. (Whitman, of course, went on to lose handily to Gov. Jerry Brown and spent a record-shattering $175 million of her own money in doing so.)

During that campaign, the man who was elected state insurance commissioner and once described himself as a “moderate Republican” tried to outflank Whitman by veering sharply to the political right with a campaign almost solely focused on illegal immigration. He quickly embraced the then hotly debated Arizona immigration law, and aired TV ads promising an end to government benefits for those in the U.S. illegally.

That kind of immigration rhetoric seems somewhat at odds with what Poizner’s presidential pick said to reporters on Friday evening. Decrying the raucous protests against Donald Trump’s convention speech a few hours earlier, Gov. Kasich said Trump was trying to scare the Latino community with his rhetoric about illegal immigration. Similar criticisms were made of Poizner in the final days of the GOP gubernatorial campaign six years ago.

Poizner, who spent several years promoting the use of technology in education, said that he’s a “passionate” supporter of Kasich. Still sporting the powder blue dress shirts with no tie that he wore on all of his campaign stops in 2006, the Bay Area’s biggest Kasich backer also told the crowd something they know all too well.

“Being a Republican activist here in uber-liberal California,” he said with a slight smile on his face, “can be tough duty.”


Kasich about to take the stage in banquet hall


Kasich: ‘Do the Republicans actually think they can win an election by scaring every Hispanic in this country to death?’

Speaking to a scrum of reporters Friday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich expanded on his claim that Donald Trump would not be successful in a general election matchup against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by issuing a warning about the potential down-ballot effect a Trump nomination could have in California.

“If he were to be picked, he will get crushed in the fall,” Kasich said. “And there’s a couple of districts here that would probably be gone with him.”

Kasich also addressed the Latino community, bemoaning that his party thinks it can win the election by “scaring every Hispanic in this country to death.”

“Do you have any idea what those folks are gonna do in a general election?” Kasich asked. “How about our friends in the African American community? How do they feel about this stuff? About this division and separation?”


Waiting for Kasich


Abandoning ‘the politics of negativity’


Kasich loves California, has been to ‘The Big Sur’


Covered in paint at the state GOP convention cocktail hour

Vincent Wetzel of Huntington Beach made the mistake of trying to leave the California Republican Convention to get an In-N-Out Burger during the height of the anti-Trump protest outside.

He was greated by a paint-chucking protester.

Now Wetzel, 22, a young Republican from Orange Coast College, is mingling with the crowd partially covered in red paint along his left side.

After the chaos of the afternoon, the cocktail hour was a quiet opportunity for delgates to chat with candidates.

Former state Republican Party chairman and U.S. Senate candidate Tom Del Beccaro was among those in attendance. He managed to get past the protesters without any paint on him.


State Republican delegates are hot and cold on Trump

West Walker, chairman of Californians for Trump, was feeling pretty good Friday evening.

Walker thought New York billionaire Donald Trump wowed delegates during his speech at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, and he was happy that California’s June 7 primary might seal the deal for nomination.

“I think it’s awesome that California finally matters in national politics,” said Walker, who lives in Stockton. “This is just critical for us to build the Republican party back up in California.”

Walker was backstage when Trump arrived at the convention about noon. Trump spent about a half hour hobnobbing with his campaign volunteers, and even signed Walker’s “Make American Great Again” baseball cap.

But Marcia Gilchrist of north Tustin, who has been coming to state GOP conventions since 1957, isn’t so keen on the Republican front-runner.

“That’s what I can’t stand about Trump,” said Gilchrist, a former district manager for Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton). “My mother taught me to be polite. Trump is anything but.”

Gilchrist, 79, is backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will be speaking to delegates Friday evening. She said Kasich knows the issues, is a reasonable man and, compared with Trump, acts like a “grown-up.”

Republican Colin Walch of Santa Maria, who is running for the 16th state Senate district, also supports Kasich. He hasn’t been happy about the “hostile” tone of the GOP presidential race, saying it harms the party, he said.

Walch is resigned to the fact that Trump will win the Republican nomination and said, if that happens, he’ll probably vote for him.

“I’m going to be swallowing real hard,” said Walch, who owns a small Web start-up.

Walch arrived at the convention about noon, at the height of the anti-Trump protests, and had to dodge eggs hurled at him and other supporters as he made his way in to the convention hotel.

“It was insane,” Walch said. “If you’re going to protest, why do you have to throw things? What does that have to do with freedom of expression?”


Trump on getting to the convention: ‘I felt like I was crossing the border’

Undeterred by protesters who nearly blocked his way into the California Republican Convention, Donald Trump called on the party Friday to unite behind him even as he lashed out at what he portrayed as its corrupt system for picking presidential nominees.

Police in riot gear were unable to stop egg-tossing demonstrators who broke through street barricades and rushed to the entrance of the convention hotel near San Francisco International Airport, forcing Trump’s motorcade to pull over on the shoulder of the 101 Freeway.

Read More


‘We didn’t want it to be like Costa Mesa’

The protest outside the California Republican Convention ebbed and flowed throughout the day, shifting from a calm gathering to a raucous demonstration marked by bursts of violence.

Some Donald Trump supporters were pushed and kicked as they tried to cross through the crowd.

One Trump supporter, Adam Harry of Discovery Bay, said he had his phone snatched from his hands and thrown across a parking lot into a bush. He said he was spat on and shoved as he walked away from protesters. Some activists called him a racist while others crowded around him to keep others back.

“They just completely got out of control,” he said.

Another Trump supporter, Christopher Conway, 51, of Burlingame, was pushed through the crowd and ended up jammed into a corner against a police barrier.

“I walked through and these guys felt free to hit me,” he said.

At one point protesters threw down the barricades separating them from the hotel where the conference was held.

Some protesters clad in black clothing, their faces covered with handkerchiefs, threw eggs and rocks at the police.

At least five people were arrested, said Lt. Jay Kiely of the Burlingame Police Department.

Shekhiynah Larks, an 18-year-old student at the University of San Francisco, said she came out to protest Trump but left disappointed with some of the protesters’ tactics.

“I don’t think tagging or throwing eggs accomplishes anything,” she said.

San Mateo resident Oscar Herrera, 19, said the protest was a success because Trump had to pull to the side of the road and cross a barrier to get to the convention.

“We succeeded, man. We made Trump jump the border wall,” he said.

But he acknowledged the protest got violent at times, with protesters throwing bottles and eggs at police officers.

“It could have gotten very ugly, but people were chanting ‘stay peaceful’ and it eased down. We didn’t want it to be like Costa Mesa,” he said. “We got our message out in the end. Trump is not welcome in California.”


Five arrests during protests at state GOP convention


Protest effectively over after police push most out of street


Tensions linger between police and protesters (Warning: Explicit language)


California Republicans say Trump’s speech was ‘presidential’ — but he’s ‘still The Donald’

State Republican delegates who weren’t always on board with Trump said they were impressed with his speech at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame on Friday, and they are warming up to the idea of voting for him.

“He stated his case in a calm and presidential way. But he was still The Donald. He joked around a bit,” said Diane McGlinchey, a retired homemaker from Huntington Beach. “Does he still say things that shock me? Yes. But he is a man of our time.”

Brandon Gesicki, a political consultant from Monterey, started the political season supporting former New York Gov. George Pataki in the presidential race. On Friday, he was impressed with Trump’s down-to-earth manner and his appeal to regular Americans.

“I’m coming around” Gesicki said. “He’s unvarnished on what he says. He says some things that are off the cuff. But you know what, we’re too sensitive as a country anyways.”

The fact that Trump has generated so much excitement among people who usually don’t participate in the political process shows just how skilled a candidate Trump has been, he said.

“The people who show up to Donald Trump’s events are regular people who would never take an hour out of their day to attend a political rally,” he said.

K.V. Kumar of Santa Ana, who sported Trump stickers and buttons on his coat, said that Trump’s speech lacked the fiery rhetoric of his past rallies. He said that shows Trump is settling down as a candidate.

“He looked very good,” said Kumar, a management consultant who initially supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Kumar said the other two candidates in the Republican race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, should end their efforts to stop Trump from winning enough delegates to nab the nomination outright.

“It’s dishonest,” Kumar said. “The process needs to have integrity.”


Crowd thinning out as police tell protesters to leave or face arrest

The Times’ Seema Mehta and Javier Panzar report that police have just declared the dwindling crowd of protesters outside the Hyatt Regency an unlawful assembly, giving them five minutes to leave or face arrest.


Watch: Protesters knock down barrier outside California GOP convention before Trump speech

Protesters break through a crowd-control barrier outside of the California Republican Party’s convention in Burlingame, Calif., where Donald J. Trump was to speak.

Javier Panzar captured video of protesters on Facebook Live.


Protesters burn American flag outside state GOP convention (Warning: Explicit language)


Police go head to head with protesters at state GOP convention (Warning: Explicit language)


Before crowd of California Republicans, Trump was a more subdued version of himself


Trump: Expanding the GOP map is more important than unity

Read More


In turn from Thursday night’s speech, Trump veers away from illegal immigration


Trump says he is waiting for his shot against ‘crooked Hillary’

Donald Trump wrapped up a relatively short speech at the California Republican Party’s spring convention with a promise to demolish Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances in the November election.

“We’re going to start winning again. We don’t win any more,” Trump told the crowd. “I’m different, because I’m going to win states that no one else can. And when I can focus on Hillary, as I say, ‘crooked Hillary’ … she will go down faster than any of the people that we just beat.”

He also urged California Republicans to help the cause in the June primary election.

“You people have been fantastic. And on June 7, the world is going to be watching,” Trump said.


‘No justice, no peace’


Trump: It’s tougher for a Republican to win the White House

In his lunchtime GOP state convention speech, Donald Trump said it’s harder to win the presidency as a Republican than as a Democrat.

Trump made fun of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for saying he’s not sufficiently conservative. He shot back and said he was, but that was beside the point. The front-runner said he’s the only Republican who can expand the electoral map by competing in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other traditionally Democratic swing states.

“I’ll bring things into play that nobody will bring,” Trump said.


Protester to police officer: ‘Would you protect Hitler?’


Trump tells California Republicans his victory is inevitable

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump warmed up a packed house at the California Republican Party convention by telling the audience that his victory in the race for the GOP nomination is inevitable.

“In the history of Republican primaries, I’ve gotten the most votes,” Trump told the crowd. “And we haven’t even hit the big states yet.”

Trump ripped into rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz for selecting prior presidential contender and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina as his running mate earlier this week. Trump said it was an act of desperation.

“He picked Carly. And I like Carly. But when she left, she had no votes,” Trump said.

“It’s coming to an end. I think it’s coming to an end very soon,” Trump said. “There has to be unity in the party.”

But if there’s no unity among Republicans, Trump said he will still win.


Trump: GOP unity is good, but it doesn’t matter

Donald Trump said in his lunchtime speech at the state GOP convention that he hopes the Republican Party unifies behind his presidential campaign. But if party leaders don’t, it’s not a big deal, he said.

The public isn’t interested whether candidates like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorse him or not, Trump said.

“I don’t care,” Trump said. “It’s not going to have any impact on whether we beat Hillary Clinton.”