[guest post by JVW]
Those of us who have been in California for two decades or longer have seen a slow, inexorable decline of the Republican Party in the state. When I arrived, Pete Wilson had won reelection as governor two years earlier, and though Bill Clinton would win the state for a second consecutive election later that fall (after six straight elections where the Golden State had gone for the GOP candidate), exactly half of California’s 52 Congressional districts elected Republicans that year. Nearly a quarter-century later, the tide as emphatically turned as Hillary Clinton won the state by over three million votes and just two years later Democrats took 46 out of the state’s 53 House seats. Combined with a decade of Democrat governors and now super-majorities in both state legislative houses, the GOP has been reduced to the parsley garnish on the politial steak dinner plate.
But could that be changing? The first significant pushback to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lockdown order came from Huntington Beach, in a nominally-Republican congressional district that a Democrat managed to capture two years ago. Though the state ended up swatting down Huntington Beach’s attempt to reopen the beach before the state had granted authorization, it’s not hard to imagine that Huntington’s move greatly accelerated the state’s plans and forced them to relax their stringent plans. And now even the governor’s fellow Democrats are pushing him to speed up the process for returning to some semblance of normality. Gov. Newsom, who just last week was warning us that restrictions would likely last throughout the summer, is now optimistically suggesting that sporting events — sans stands manned with tanned fans — could return to the state as early as two weeks from now. We can try to believe that these developments coincidentally arose independently of the protests, but it seems far more likely that state Democrats are starting to understand that they may have overreacted just a wee bit.
A second shoe dropping was last week’s special election where Republican candidate Mike Garcia won a surprise victory to serve out the remainder of disgraced Democrat Katie Hill’s term in California’s 25th Congressional District. Though the party registration is divided equally between Republicans and Democrats, the donkey party bailed out on the race once their candidate beclowned herself with an intemperate remark about Mr. Garcia’s military service, and the party decided to cut bait and hope to win the seat back in the general election this fall, when they presume Democrat turnout will be higher.
And finally, one of the most positive developments is that the few remaining GOP legislators in Sacramento seem to have coalesced around a workable agenda which involves cutting spending, holding taxes as low as possible, and removing the ridiculous levels of red-tape that Democrats have used to tie up businesses over the past decade-plus. Republican Senator John Moorlach, a CPA who served as Orange County Tax Collector during the county’s bankrupcy in the mid-1990s, has been at the forefront of pushing for budget and regulatory reforms. Though super-majority Democrats can easily swat aside his bills, Sen. Moorlach has started to attract some support form across the aisle among those Dems who are starting to understand that their party’s hyper-progressivism might be a constraint upon getting the economy restarted. This past week, Sen. Moorlach introduced a bill that would have entered California into a multi-state licensing compact where nurses from the Golden State would be licensed to practice in other states who have signed on to the compact, and vice-versa. This bill was supported by hospitals, the AARP, health insurance providers, and dozens of other stake-holders, but was opposed by the California Nurses’ Association, a militant left-wing union whom progressive Democrat legislators are loathe to cross. Despite this, the bill was narrowly defeated in committee on a 5-4 margin, with two Democrats bucking the powerful union and voting in support of the compact. Could it be that even some Democrats are beginning to understand that business as usual is not going to pull us out of this economic malaise? Sen. Moorlach is also taking the lead on challenging Sacramento Democrats to get serious about budget and spending reform, so here’s hoping his efforts bear at least some fruit.
As I’ve written before, I am not going to be making any predictions for this November’s election, in the Golden State or anywhere else. But I am pleased to see that perhaps at long last the California GOP is getting its act together and providing at least the appearance of opposition to the Sandersista socialists in Sacramento.
[UPDATE]: Sorry folks, this post was kind of a mess. I accidentally published it a couple of hours ago, so I copied it, trashed it, and then pasted it into a new post. But I guess in that process a portion of the post got deleted by mistake, so when it was published the second time around I was horrified to discover that some paragraphs were missing. I’ve tried my best to reconstruct it, but I beg your forgiveness if it seems somewhat slap-dash (because it is).