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Wed, Apr

California Power and Influence MIA at GOP Convention

LOS ANGELES

POLITICS--There is one place that the influence and power of California–the home of the sixth largest economy in the world, cultural icons and high tech gurus–is relatively insignificant: the Republican national convention.

Despite delivering the most delegates of any state and having the greatest representation in the Electoral College, California is little more than a side note at the GOP convention. The reason is simple: California cannot deliver those Electoral College votes for the Republican ticket. In the presidential election California is a Democratic stronghold.

The state’s delegates are being housed not in Cleveland, the convention’s host city, but in Sandusky, Ohio, an hour’s ride away from the convention. Officials will tell the delegates they are an hour away, but it will be longer. I’ve been to one of these events before. Delegates are told, for security reasons, the bus hauling the delegates cannot drive the same route all the time. Some of those side routes on city streets add considerably to the commute time. After convention hours, mingling with officials and other delegations or reporters is drastically reduced if delegates don’t want to miss the official bus back to Sandusky.

The California delegation can be grateful in one regard. In the recent past, the state delegation has been seated off to the side of the convention’s main podium, not directly in front of the podium and out of the camera’s eye. Out of site, out of mind. However, this year the large delegation is more or less to the center-right of the podium and up close.

The big question for state Republican leaders is how the Trump-Pence ticket will attract regular Californian Republican voters … or repel them. It may be a Trump-centric delegation in Cleveland, but Republicans from California not in Cleveland may not be as strong for the candidate and that could affect the party’s overall standing.

Trump supporters believe his stand on issues like immigration will grow support for the party. But the state party has been shrinking. The immigration issue, which is a major plank for the presumptive nominee, is played differently by California party officials, recognizing as they do, the demographics of the California electorate.

Trump advocates point out that he did his best in California capturing about 75 percent of the primary vote. But the nomination campaign was over by the time it reached the Golden State. Many Republican voters chose to vote for another name on the ballot or did not vote in the presidential primary election at all.

Can the California GOP withstand the negatives Trump has created over the course of the campaign? Will some Republicans follow the example of syndicated columnist George Will and re-register? I have heard from long time Republicans who said they are ready to register as No Party Preference voters when Trump is anointed. We’ll see, but the 27 percent Republican registration in California could fall even lower.

Before dismissing California’s as irrelevant to the national Republican Party, it must be acknowledged that California is important to the national GOP in one way — money. But big donors rarely are convention delegates. Candidates and party officials have to come to them so there will be plenty of fundraising pilgrimages to California over the course of the campaign.

Thinking optimistically, for the sake of the California GOP and its diminished influence, perhaps the seating arrangement is a bit of a positive sign.

(Joel Fox is the Editor of Fox & Hounds  … where this perspective was first posted … and President of the Small Business Action Committee.)

-cw

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