After yet another disappointing finish to a Republican Party election campaign in California, it appears Golden State GOPers have finally received the message that their organization is in serious trouble. While many analysts and observers claim the California Republican Party's losses are a fault of a poor message and lousy nominees (and in some cases that may be correct), one clear factor is also present - there is a void of professional leadership at the state party level in addition to a lack of direction at the level of many GOP county parties.
That may soon be changing. And not a minute too soon.
On a statewide level, former state legislator Jim Brulte is about to accept the role of California Republican Party chair. Locally, sources tell us that Assemblymember Curt Hagman (R-District 55) is ready to announce his bid to be head of the San Bernardino County Republican Party, potentially challenging incumbent Robert Rego. In Senator Brulte's case, the current chair, Tom Del Becarro, has announced his retirement, which likely provides the effective veteran Republican leader Jim Brulte a clear path to the chair's office.
As a former county Republican county chair myself, I welcome this news in an otherwise miserable year for the Republican Party. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem (as I know well). With both Brulte and Hagman filling vital holes of leadership, the most important step - the first - has been taken.
Jim Brulte is a man who needs no introduction. His leadership of the Assembly Republican Caucus in the mid-90s led to the last 41-seat Assembly GOP majority in living memory. His leadership of California's State Senate Republicans held the line on major proposed tax increases.
Jim is a master strategist and has a keen understanding of the state legislative and California's political process like no other. Years after his last days in public office, reporters from around the state and nation refer to him for guidance and advice on California public affairs. If there is a better leader for the state party I have yet to hear that person's name.
Of course, I must mention that my first job in public service was as an intern and legislative aide in Jim Brulte's State Assembly office during his second term. It was an incredible honor to work in his office.
There are those conservatives in the Republican Party who may question Jim's sincerity. To those who would, I say give Jim a chance. If our party apparatus is going to stand a chance to rebuild, it needs a leader who is knowledgeable, smart and tough-as-nails, and who has a proven ability to raise serious coin.
A Jim Brulte chairmanship means there is a greater chance that Republicans of all stripes will at least get in the game. That did not happen in 2012 and California Republicans paid a heavy price in losses and near defeats.
Regionally, Curt Hagman is an exceptionally good fit for the county party. He is a highly effective state lawmaker who is tight with the activist community AND the donor community. His leadership provides a central committee that has been rudderless for half a decade as one chair after another bolted for the exits after an unremarkable tenure. Anthony Adams, anyone? How about Ken Willis?
Curt's ability to bridge the gap between those who write the big checks and those who walk the precincts, work phone banks and host volunteer voter registration drives means, for the first time in years, the county party will once again resemble an airplane with two wings (benefactors and volunteers). For too long the San Bernardino County Republican Party has had to settle for half. Now the glass will be full again.
I know Curt Hagman can return the county party to its former glory days when yours truly served as one of its chairs. It was not easy, but creating a finance plan, a mobilization effort, voter registration coordination and event planning is definitely hard work, which explains why so many recent chairs have failed. It takes a professional to lead. I know that pro is Assemblyman Curt Hagman.
Curt Hagman will be San Bernardino County's Scott Baugh while Jim Brulte will be Jim Brulte. As Democrats look to broaden their power, this team will make liberals think twice about turning their attention on Congressman Gary Miller and Assemblyman Mike Morrell - two conservative patriots.
I am thrilled to see these changes at all levels. California Republicans, especially those in San Bernardino County, will be better off because of them. Let's effect these changes at once!
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