The San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee (SBGOP) has been in disarray for some time. In four short years, county party registration has gone from 30,000 in the red to 30,000 in the blue. In other words, the Democrats gained 60,000 voters more than Republicans did.
Robert Rego became SBGOP chairman in 2008. He paralyzed any effort at voter gains. Fundraising has also been at an all-time low under his watch.
After crushing defeats statewide this past November, California Republican Party (CRP) leaders want to rebuild local parties across the state. San Bernardino Republicans can play a key role but not without strong leadership.
To provide that leadership, Assemblyman Curt Hagman agreed to run for county chairman. Lack of support among Central Committee members left Rego with the choice of stepping aside or suffering an embarrassing defeat. He stepped aside. Hagman was expected to win the chairmanship easily on Jan. 31.
However, some Central Committee members, especially among the ranks of the Tea Party and other ultra conservative Republicans, are anti-incumbent—any incumbent including Hagman. They want to keep the SBGOP at the grassroots level despite dismal voter registration and fundraising numbers.
Now there is buzz about the possibility of former county supervisor Neil Derry as a candidate. Derry is a Tea Party favorite for his grassroots approach to governing.
Unfortunately, and all unfairness and prosecutorial misconduct aside, Derry is on probation for a fundraising-related misdemeanor. Party leaders will not consider working with the SBGOP if Derry is elected. They know his status as a “convicted public official” will hurt their cause and give Democrats ammunition.
Derry did not return a request for information. He has let it be known on social media sites that he would consider becoming chairman if Central Committee members want him for the spot.
The Tea Party does not hold a majority of the Central Committee votes but neither does the party’s elected officials—state and federal officeholders are automatically members of the Central Committee. That leads to the possibility of a showdown on Thursday. All Republicans are welcome to the festivities or fireworks, whichever it may be.
The meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 11481 Mission Vista Drive in Rancho Cucamonga. Jim Brulte will be the guest speaker. Visit www.sbgop.com for more information.
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