SACRAMENTO, March 4, 2013—The California Republican Party held its 2013 Spring Convention in Sacramento last weekend. For the first time in several conventions, the mood was decidedly upbeat. For the first time in years, there is cause for cautious optimism among the Golden State Grand Old Party.
Outgoing Chairman Tom Del Beccaro inherited a mess when he took over. Despite his best efforts, the 2010 elections were a disaster for California Republicans due to the top of the ticket. What Nancy Pelosi did for Democrats in the other 49 states, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did for Republicans in California. The Terminator dragged the entire party down, and Del Beccaro had to come in amidst the wreckage.
The torch is now being passed to Jim Brulte. Mr. Brulte was the Republican leader and arch foe of California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown when Republicans had their 1994 victories. Speaker Brown resorted to hardball tactics to keep Brulte anywhere but near the speakership. Almost two decades later, Mr. Brulte brings his fundraising prowess and political combat abilities to a party desperately in need of a good fighting spirit.
The theme of “fighting back” was a constant throughout the weekend.
The Friday night dinner featured highly regarded former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.
(Full disclosure: I endorsed Mr. DeVore for the U.S. Senate in 2010.)
Mr. DeVore recently moved to Texas. He came back to explain why he left the worst state in America to do business in favor of the best one.
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez took time out from being Superwoman to speak at the dinner. In addition to her military service, she married and raised five children. She is a real conservative who certainly does not fear liberal legislators.
Friday night concluded with a presentation on how to track the billions of dollars fleeing California. The only money coming in is leaving New York and other states slightly worse than California from a competitive standpoint.
The Saturday lunch was headlined by former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove. Mr. Rove used to be the enemy of the left, but now he is coming under fire from conservatives who see him as an establishment shill trying to undermine the grassroots. Mr. Rove has his supporters and detractors, but one cannot deny that the GOP was 2-0 in presidential races with him and 0-2 since. The man won at the biggest stage, so a state party on a losing streak was smart to hear him out.
Congressman Darrell Issa wrapped up the luncheon, and was well received (as he always is) by the party faithful.
Saturday night dinner was red meat right off the bone. By sheer coincidence, all three speakers were Jewish Republicans. I started the night by reminding the audience to buck up and take on the Obama establishment. I also offered thanks to Chuck Hagel for the beautiful Passover card that has yet to arrive. My book “Ideological Bigotry” was the topic.
Evan Sayet was up next, and his new book “The Kindergarten of Eden” was on tap. He mixed the lighthearted with the serious as he explained how liberals end up in professions where people do nothing.
Ben Shapiro is lightning in a bottle, and he came out by thanking the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for hosting the dinner. His newest book is entitled “bullies,” and he clearly grasps that the only thing bullies understand is force. The left has defined the right, and the right has refused to fight back. Like Mr. Sayet and myself, Mr. Shapiro quickly took the gloves off and did not stop until every liberal bully was metaphorically beaten into submission. He did not spare his fellow Republicans, all but ordering them to learn Spanish rather than complain about changing demographics.
Both Friday and Saturday night featured several afterparties in various hotel suites. The Sacramento Hyatt Regency held the bulk of the action, although the Convention Center and Irish pubs across the street turned into a Grand Old block Party.
Yet while socializing and camaraderie make for a fun weekend, politics at its core is serious business. In addition to Mr. Brulte, the GOP now has a new Vice Chairwoman in Harmeet Dhillon. Ms. Dhillon is of Sikh origin, and her election is a special source of pride in the hardworking Sikh community. Since this is the Republican Party, her election was based on merit. She has worked hard for the party in the toughest political job, Chairwoman of the San Francisco GOP. She won her new post in a landslide.
Despite as many as thirty million Republicans in California, the GOP was so dispirited in recent years that only about two hundred people attended the last convention. The energy is clearly back, as about triple the number of people attended this convention. The CAGOP gathers again in October for the 2013 Fall Convention in Southern California, specifically in Orange County.
The CAGOP has a long road ahead of it, but it seems like the party has rebounded from the depths of despair and is now finally ready to begin the climb back from political oblivion to the force it once was for much of the late twentieth century.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS.
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