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State, national columnists

Election indicates GOP may be coming back

By From page A9 | June 08, 2014

It’s risky – perhaps even foolhardy – to read much into the results of an abysmally low turnout primary election.

With that caveat, however, it appears that the California Republican Party, which has been on the brink of utter irrelevance, may be making at least a mild comeback.

Three of its candidates for statewide office present a new, more moderate and more inclusive face to voters, with banker Neel Kashkari’s defeat of Assemblyman Tim Donnelly the most obvious example.

Kashkari, of course, has almost no chance of denying Gov. Jerry Brown a fourth term, but he’s a credible, intelligent and articulate candidate whose win avoids the embarrassment that Donnelly would have brought the party.

Pete Peterson’s chances of defeating Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla for secretary of state are only slightly better, given the state’s strong Democratic bent.

However, Fresno’s Republican mayor, Ashley Swearengin, has at least a fair shot at becoming state controller, although she still doesn’t know for certain whether she’s on the November ballot, thanks to a close four-way race. She’ll likely make it and probably face former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez or Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.

Swearengin is clearly a rising Republican star, potentially a future candidate for governor or U.S. senator.

Results further down the ballot indicate that recent GOP efforts to broaden its reach are paying off.

A number of Latino and Asian-American Republicans seeking legislative and congressional seats won spots on the November ballot, and while not all will be elected, some will.

Mario Guerra, a Downey city councilman, topped all candidates in Los Angeles County’s 32nd Senate District, for example. The area’s current senator, Democrat Ron Calderon, is under indictment, and despite the district’s big Democratic voter registration margin, Guerra has an outside chance against former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza.

Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen likewise topped the field in the 34th Senate District, and her duel with Democrat Jose Solorio is widely considered the key to whether Democrats recapture their Senate supermajority.

Elsewhere in Orange County, Young Kim is the GOP challenger to Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, whose win in the 65th Assembly District two years ago was something of a fluke.

There are several other examples of GOP diversification, such as Republican Rudy Mendoza, favored to succeed Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway in the San Joaquin Valley’s 26th Assembly District, and Diamond Bar Councilman Ling-Ling Chang, the likely Republican winner in Southern California’s GOP-leaning 55th Assembly District.

Republicans still face an uphill climb to regain relevance, and may never make it. But Tuesday’s election gave them a good start.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as [email protected]

Dan Walters


Discussion | 20 comments

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  • PornacJune 08, 2014 - 9:16 am

    It's like an invasion!

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  • PornacJune 08, 2014 - 9:17 am

    I know, stupid comments, but they are short and easy to ignore.

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  • JagJune 08, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Dan, do you know what a California GOP is? A RINO I even hate the fact they are considered part of the GOP party they should be called the democrat rejections, these few spots you mention have no meaning and once they try for a more significant position in this state they will lose, we all know Orange county was the last strong hold for the republicans in California so if a republican wins there it is no surprise

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 08, 2014 - 6:29 pm

    Jag, I believe Walters was speaking of the party as a whole in California, not about a specific flavor of Republican. There are all kinds of Republicans in California as there is across the country. What are the specific issue positions that you would consider what you are referring to as a "California Republican?"

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  • JagJune 08, 2014 - 10:06 pm

    No there are not all kinds of flavors in my party there are two and that is why the huge in fight we have the establishment republicans and the tea party republicans, I believe a California republican has to be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage pro-immigration to get elected in this state so why are the republican? because they can be pro fiscal cuts (as long as it is not welfare) and a California voter might still vote them in office.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 6:23 am

    Jag, thanks for that. What would you say are the top 3 issues facing our state and country today?

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  • JagJune 09, 2014 - 8:35 am

    I am a money man, I balance my home budget and I think all states and are country should do the same, we have got to lower our debt, I have interest in other issues taxes equality and things like that but they can be worked out, I think we have got to stop the spending outside of what we take in.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 8:58 am

    Jag, I completely agree. Notice that you didn't mention any of the social issues. If conservatives want to start winning elections again, the social issues have to be out of the agenda. Where I would disagree with you, is that California Republicans are necessarily soft on immigration. Most believe that before any immigration reform is negotiated, we have to close our Borders. All types of conservatives must stop the infighting. Agreement can be reached on reducing spending, lowering taxes, repealing and replacing Obamacare, easing up on regulations and holding the hard line on immigration.

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  • rlw895June 09, 2014 - 11:19 am

    I'd vote for anyone who proposes amending the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 11:32 am

    rlw, that would be a huge first step.

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  • rlw895June 09, 2014 - 11:35 am

    Dan Logue doesn't have much chance against Garamendi. Why doesn't he make a name for himself by proposing it? He might wake some people up. And I'll vote for him. I've lost patience with both parties.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 6:51 pm

    rlw, I wish we would have this conversation a few weeks ago. I had a chance to spend about an hour with Dan. I'm guessing he would support it, I'm just not sure if it would be something to hang your hat on. I agree that his chance of winning are a long shot at best, but I bet he will do much better than Vann did two years ago. Based on the primaries, it appears that democrats will probably lose the Senate. If Logue loses by less than 10% I believe that the Senate will change hands. If he loses by more than 10%, maybe not.

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  • JagJune 09, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    Wow you guys, I thought you were way to the left in your views but you seem very reasonable, Mr. Practical the only reason I am stuck on closing the border first is because when Regan singed the amnesty bill 28 years ago we were told that the border would be closed after it went in effect so how many more time do we have to do this? Now you may think I ami a prick after this next statement but I don’t care about all of these kids being held right now send them home,

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    Jag, I think rlw will get a kick out of your thinking I was way to the left. He and I have been sparring here from quite a few years. rlw, is a good guy and puts the time and thought into his point of view. Even when I don't agree with his thought process on how he gets to his opinion, I respect his effort. I realize not everyone is going to share my view. All you can hope is that they did their due diligence. The fact Leland Yee got over 270,000 votes scares the bejeezus out of me. The irony on Reagan's amnesty is that it cost him votes. Conservative Hispanics, and there are a lot of them, saw it as a weakness. Jag, for the record, I am about as right as you can get when it comes to the economy, free enterprise and working towards a balanced budget. Personally, I am pro choice and advocate for gay marriage. From a political standpoint, I have a Libertarian view of those social issues. I don't believe government should be legislating those issues either way.

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  • Mr. SmithJune 09, 2014 - 6:46 pm

    Secure the damn southern border, already!

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 09, 2014 - 6:53 pm

    Mr. Smith, we need to close the northern border as well. The last thing we need is another Justin Bieber.

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  • JagJune 09, 2014 - 7:20 pm

    LOL at Mr. Practical.. Mr. Smith I agree with you but do you know the #1 illegal immigrant in America right now, here is a hint, It is not the Mexican,

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  • Mr. SmithJune 09, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    Yes, secure both borders, by all means. Another Bieber is a scary thought. Jag--if they come through the southern border, they are all the same to me. Shutting it down would solve 99% of our illegal alien problem--Mexican, Central American, middle east muslim jihadists, you name it.

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  • JagJune 09, 2014 - 7:28 pm

    So Mr. Practical you probably are aware of the book the liberty amendments and what the man is trying to do?

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  • rlw895June 08, 2014 - 7:26 pm

    It's like one of those situations where the only direction left is up. Moderates of both parties are benefiting from the "top two" primary system, as intended. I give Pete Peterson a better shot than Walters.

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