GOP wants the California governorship’s back

It may be mission impossible, but the Republican Party intends to win California governorship in November 2014. The numbers don’t support this vision: voter registration…
GOP wants the California governorship’s back

Ashley Swearengin, Fresno’s mayor since 2008. (Eduardo Stanley/VOXXI)

It may be mission impossible, but the Republican Party intends to win California governorship in November 2014.

The numbers don’t support this vision: voter registration shows that the GOP has less than 30 percent of state registered voters, while Democrats have 43 percent —both losing voters. The only one segment that grew in the last few years is the “decline to state” political affiliation, currently making 20 percent.

So, what feed conservatives illusions of a come back? They rely on “new faces” and a different political message.

The new Republican stars

The GOP is playing some hard cards with “new” faces as Ashley Swearengin, Fresno mayor since 2008 —she was reelected in 2012—, a 41 year-old conservative politician who shows a more flexible image compared with the old fashioned Republicans. She announced last week she will run for state Controller.

She declared her experience as co-founder of the Regional Jobs Initiative —an industry-focused effort aimed at helping the unemployment— and a similar position obtained by appointment from former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before becoming mayor, to be a crucial asset for the Controller position.

However, Swearengin will face a tough campaign road. She will go throughout a preliminary election in June —Republicans may help her by not placing a “difficult” challenger— but for the November election most likely she’ll face Democrat John Perez, a termed out well-known elected official.

What does Swearengin have to show besides some symbolic jobs and her current mayorship? And how successful is she at her current job?

“Ashley Swearengin is smart, enthusiastic, and works tirelessly on behalf of builders, developers, and the affluent in Fresno. She has put significant city resources into bulldozing homeless encampments and forcing them out of downtown, in a campaign to revitalize Fresno’s urban core.

“As recently as last week, Mayor Swearengin convinced the City Council to pass an ordinance preventing homeless people from pushing shopping carts,” explains Mike Rhodes, of Fresno, founder of the Central Valley Progressive PAC.

More impressive yet are her two big political defeats.  The first one, in June 2013, involves her obsession to privatize businesses held by the city, as a typical conservative proposal. Mrs. Swearengin bit to privatize the City’s garbage residential trash pick up lost in the polls.

SEE ALSO: Republicans get one more bite of the apple!

The second one: The City Council voted 4-3 to stop a project called Bus Rapid Transit in January 2014. The project, supported by Mrs. Swearengin, would have beeen funded by a $50 million dollars from the federal government and would have improved the local public transportation dramatically.

Those opponents are, like Mrs. Swearengin, conservatives. So why did they vote “no”? According to some analysts, because the project is opposed by big businesses not interested on more green and massive public transportation.

However, the point is, why couldn’t Mrs. Swearengin secure at least another vote in behalf of a project she supported and that could bring some much-needed jobs to this city of 500,000 residents?

After all, her electoral campaign on 2008 —as well as many of her conservatives peers now at City Hall— was based on the promise of bringing jobs.

If Mrs. Swearengin really wants to aim to a state electoral post, she needs more than a cute image because she will be confronted by these failures and lack of leadership.

Finally, Mrs. Swearengin in known for not having a good rapport with minorities, particularly Latinos.

Neel Kashkari is running for governor of California.

Republican candidate for governor, Neel Kashkari, speaks at the Sacramento Press Club in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The GOP and the middle class

Republicans are changing their message. Supporting tax breaks for big businesses and ignoring minorities’ voices is outdated.

Neel Kashkari, the California Republican Party boss and candidate for governor, stated recently that Gov. Jerry Brown and his fellow Democrats are “failing to address income inequality.”

Forty-year-old Kashkari, a former banker, represents the new generation of conservatives switching their traditional message to a more “centrist” one.

“Jerry Brown’s legacy is the destruction of the middle class in California,” Kashkari added in a story published by the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Kashkari also talked in behalf of poor children and complained about Democrats’ policies keeping such status quo.

What Republicans try to achieve

As the GOP is loosing ground in California, they are trying to reinvent themselves to keep —and win, if possible— more political power in California. What are they doing to achieve this?


– Change their traditional message to a more middle-class-oriented one. This “new” messaging include some flexibility toward immigration reform.

– Select young candidates, if possible females or from minority heritage.

– Secure conservative districts. Republicans can’t afford to loose in conservatives areas, such as agriculture-dominated valleys, such as the Imperial Valley and the Central Valley.

– Try to build alliances with some minorities groups. The cry for water in the valleys is a great opportunity to reach out Latinos who represent the big majority among farm workers and other low-pay agriculture jobs.

– Keep agitating the ghost of economical disaster and potential lack of jobs —however, at this point California’s budget looks balanced and healthy.