Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Commentary: This is what the Orange County Republican Party needs to do to survive

In this 2009 file photo, Chris Cox (right), former congressman and Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, is welcomed home to Newport Beach by Tom Fuentes, then-chairman of the Orange County Republican Party. Fuentes died in 2012.
(File photo)

The analysis and explanations regarding the shocking defeat of the Republican Party in Orange County during the last election continue to pour in. By now the story is well known. For the first time in recent memory, all Congressional districts representing Orange County are held by a Democrat.

My intent here is not to add my voice to the growing explanation chorus. Instead I want to talk about the future of the Republican Party in Orange County.

First and foremost, the OCGOP must embrace today’s reality that Orange County is not Donald Trump country. Orange County is not a small group of coastal cities. And Orange County is not even the Orange County of 1996. Today’s Orange County is diverse socially, economically and culturally.

To move forward, the OCGOP must look to its past. It should re-focus on building its volunteer base, listening and engaging with local communities, registering voters and finding new, successful and interesting candidates that can compete in two years.


The OCGOP needs to resist the temptation to retreat into itself and needs to be growth-focused.

The late, great OCGOP chairman Tom Fuentes understood that donors are important, however, without volunteers and a bunch of voters, donors are just a small group of well-heeled folks with a martini.

The OCGOP needs to remove the image of the red velvet rope of exclusivity and connect with as many people as possible.

It needs to define itself and not allow others to define it, which is often to the benefit of the definer and to the detriment of the defined. The OCGOP needs to stop the Orwellian practice of endorsing Republicans running against other Republicans, because telling folks that all Republicans are equal, but some Republicans are more equal than others tends to shrink — not grow — membership.


The OCGOP needs to point out where Democrats falter and explain through their words and actions how they would do things better.

The OCGOP needs to compete in the battle of ideologies and explain to voters why their lives are better off with a Republican in office, because if the OCGOP cannot explain in simple-to-understand words why their vision of the future is better than a Democratic future, the OCGOP does not deserve to lead.

The OCGOP needs to focus on preserving and expanding residents’ quality of life within our county and help keep residents in their communities in the face of an affordability crisis. Because without residents we won’t be a community for very long.

The OCGOP needs to move forward with an open mind, purpose and optimism.

The OCGOP needs to seize its new opportunity to play the underdog. Americans love an underdog.

Michael Torres lives in Corona del Mar.