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Timothy Myers Sr.: Sad state of Republicans, all around

Posted: June 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Before speaking to the issue at hand, let us review the sad state of affairs of the California Republican Party, to wit:

No statewide offices held by the Republican Party. In the last statewide election (2011) the only candidate who came close to achieving statewide office (attorney general), Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, failed to even carry Los Angeles County.

Supermajorities held in both the state Senate and Assembly by Democrats. Republicans performing so poorly in newly drawn districts that a former Republican (Steve Fox) found himself winning an Assembly seat in the (formerly) Republican Antelope Valley when adopting a Democrat label.

Republicans losing every single competitive congressional race in California in 2012 after redistricting. Think of Tony Strickland’s (unfortunately temporary) exit from electoral politics and the defeat of Mary Bono Mack in the Coachella Valley.

Now due to my distinctly center-left political views, primarily on social issues, one might find me thrilled and elated with the facts on the ground.

Not so! For a democracy to thrive, a vibrant and energetic opposition must exist that drags matters to the center, since they possess a chance of capturing power from the natural majority party if they overreach.

But the Republican Party in California seems doomed to rump status for the foreseeable future. The last real Republican governor of California, Pete Wilson (celebrities don’t count), captured that office by getting a supermajority of the votes in (once) reliably Republican San Diego County, where he served the city of San Diego in the capacity of mayor.

Low and behold, San Diego County went comfortably for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Republicans lose out to Democrats by supermajority margins in both of the growing (particularly in California) demographics of Hispanics and Asians, and it can get even worse.

What, then, should the Republicans do to turn around this death spiral? Well, Republicans in the SCV believe they found the answer: Start rival Republican clubs to fight over endorsements of Republican candidates in (safe) Republican districts.

Now a bit of a primer on local political organizations, both Democratic and Republican: They possess extremely few active members, such that the introduction of a handful of folks can tip the balance of power radically.

Documentarian Michael Moore once famously advised lefties to show up at their local Democratic Committee meeting with five of their closest friends and they could enact a Communist Manifesto.

Well, in the case of local Republican clubs, the IHOP organization (I will not even attempt to delve into the confusing names and acronyms of the various Republican clubs) found itself mostly populated by paid staff members, family and friends of Congressman Buck McKeon.

This made them a reliable source of endorsement for McKeon himself and his favored candidates in local elections, an important make-work function of the folks who make their living engaging in the relatively easy job of getting incumbents re-elected.

But back in late 2011, during the run-up to the Santa Clarita City Council election and the inaugural "jungle" primary that would select the replacement for the termed-out Cameron Smyth, former City Council candidate David Gauny and a relatively small group of like-minded activists overran the IHOP crowd and got themselves elected into positions of leadership.

While this might constitute an oversimplification, the main purpose of the new order revolved around a revolt against the establishment and a move to support and endorse candidates that would oppose McKeon himself, his wife, Patricia, in the upcoming Assembly primary, and McKeon-favored candidates for the Santa Clarita City Council.

What to do when McKeon pays you and you lose control of a once-docile political organization? In the case of Bob Haueter, McKeon staffer, the option seemed obvious.

Form a rival group with a similar name — which I will call the Renegades — and then use parliamentary maneuvers to strip the IHOP group of its endorsing authority and come to the conclusion that originally occurred on a pro forma basis.

Success? In the actual elections, where it matters, McKeon did retain his seat, but Patricia McKeon came in a desultory third in the jungle primary.

City Council favored candidates Ed Colley and Jon Hatami turned in equally dismal performances.

In perhaps the greatest shocker, Laurie Ender, McKeon acolyte, became the only sitting mayor in city history to lose re-election — and only the third incumbent to do so.

But the Renegade-endorsed Saugus Union School District candidate Stephen Winkler did win.

Enough said.

Timothy Myers Sr. is a Valencia resident. "Myers’ Musings" runs Saturdays in The Signal.


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