Calif. GOP Looking to Bold Moves to Stave Off Decline

Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 09:47 AM

By Elliot Jager

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California's Republican Party is tailoring its campaign pitch to the concerns of constituents at the local level in an effort to become relevant again in state politics, the Los Angeles Times reported.

State party chairman Jim Brulte said that "The candidate that most looks like and sounds like and has the most shared values and shared experience of the majority of voters wins," according to the Times.

"The California Republican Party has been in decline in California for two decades," said Brulte, a former lawmaker who took charge in 2013.

He wants GOP candidates to reflect the views of their districts rather than follow the party's ideological platform.

Just 29 percent of registered California voters are Republicans.
Brulte hopes this approach will loosen the supermajority Democrats have on state government.

He pointed to the special election victory, last year, in the 16th Senate District — which includes the agricultural San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento — of 48 year-old cherry farmer Andy Vidak.

He ran on a platform that supported a path to citizenship for some undocumented aliens, and promised to address the shortage of jobs and water. He also came out against the high-speed train that would connect San Francisco to Sacramento.

Vidak, campaigning in a heavily Latino district, avoided taking positions on divisive social issues, according to the Times.

In office, he has supported granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. "I've worked beside folks who are in that situation," Vidak said.

Under Brulte, Republican are pursuing a strategy to challenge Democrats by focusing on issues where constituents feel the party in power has not come through for them.

Vidak says his message is "that common sense has no party lines," according to the Times.

"Mostly we listened," Vidak said. "We are all in the same boat. It's all about water and jobs."

California conservatives like Celeste Greig feel that Vidak is "pandering to the wrong people" and would not support him. "Lucky for him that I'm not in his district."

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