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California GOP Opens Alternative Pathway For 2020 Delegates

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California Republicans have approved a rule change intended to ensure the party can send delegates to the GOP's national convention next summer, even if President Donald Trump is kept off the state's 2020 primary ballot.

Speaker 1: 00:00 With the battle cry of train campaign. When California Republicans got a pep talk from national leaders at their state convention over the weekend, the party lost seven congressional seats in the 2018 midterms and they're locked out of power in Sacramento with minorities in both houses of the legislature. President Trump's 2020 campaign manager, head of the convention, telling State Republicans that sticking with Donald Trump, we'll give them a chance to turn their losses into victories, but other republicans like San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulkner told the crowd they need to build a Republican Party for California. Join me as Saul Gonzalez cohost of the California report who attended the state GOP convention in Indian Wells over the weekend saw. Welcome to the program. Hi Marine. Thanks. It sounds like the atmosphere at the convention was upbeat despite the gops recent losses in California. What was your take?

Speaker 2: 00:55 Yeah, yeah, exactly, and you know what? I think in a state like California that is blue and getting bluer, I think Republicans just like going to a place where they don't have to keep their party affiliation hidden. At least that's what I heard from a lot of just sort of rank and file Republicans who came like, oh, I can, I finally feel relaxed, uh, amongst my own kind here. So that, that came through very clearly.

Speaker 1: 01:16 Did any concrete plans emerge to perhaps spring California's GOP out of the political wilderness?

Speaker 2: 01:22 Well, you said it in your opening. I mean, Jessica Patterson is the new Latina female head, which is a first of the California Republican Party and she is all about winning and she's all about winning through organization and training. So they had like 35 training sessions. They're real meat and potato stuff about how to organize, how to reach out to others, how to convince people to start thinking about voting Republican. Um, it was really a kind of the, in the vineyards work that they focused on and she would like to see two to four Republican victories in Congress and maybe two to three victories in the state legislature that Senate and assembly and in Congress, they would love, the Republicans, would love to win back some seats in Orange County, which of course not so long ago was the Republican enclave in California.

Speaker 1: 02:12 One of the headlines that emerged from this convention was when Trump's 20, 20 campaign manager told the audience quote that Trump's will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican party into a new party. I'm wondering what was the reaction to that?

Speaker 2: 02:29 Well, he said it, no big room full of people who really love Donald Trump. So he got a great reaction to that line. Ah, that sounds like a great thing. If you get, have uh, another generation, you know, a generation or more of Trump influence in American politics, although I should say, you know, he made that statement and that got, you know, a big cheer and applause but was kind of equally interesting. Or, or, or more practically interesting was the campaign manager saying, we want 2 million people volunteering for the Trump here in California and we are not going to write off this state. We know we don't have a strong chance of flipping California a to Trump. That's probably not going to happen. But, uh, he still said we're going to have 200, 250 people on the ground here in California because, you know, it's a great place still to raise money for the president, even if it's not going to go for the president and the general election. And you know, you gotta think about those other races, right? The, the, the races for the state legislature and particularly for Congress. So I think you're gonna have a lot of focus on those campaigns as the Trump campaign. You know, gins up support and enthusiasm for the president at the same time.

Speaker 1: 03:38 No, San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulkner was one of the keynote speakers at the convention. He had a kind of a different message. He told the crowd the California GOP could be the party of yes,

Speaker 3: 03:48 yes to mental health services to get the sick off the sidewalk. Yes. To common sense projects like bridge shelters. So people have a clean place to sleep at night and yes, to building the housing that our state needs.

Speaker 1: 04:02 What was the reaction to Faulkner's address?

Speaker 2: 04:05 Kind of generally positive. I mean it wasn't a overwhelming response, but I thought that was a really interesting message that kind of hearkened back to the days of compassionate conservatism and kind of, you know, more mainline g GOP rhetoric about where the party that can do things where the party that can get things done. Right now in Canon California, he is kind of the Republican success story in that he managed to get reelected. Right. So I think he's kind of an interesting Berge a lot of Republicans for that reason and Faulkner really, you know, really pressed this line of being able to do practical good things in a city that's increasingly, you know, not Republican friendly, right. As, as San Diego is population changes,

Speaker 1: 04:49 you know, along the lines of that thrust to get more congressional wins or at least praise preserve the seats that they have. Uh, you spoke with a San Diego Republican, Darryl Eissa. Here's some of what he told you.

Speaker 4: 05:03 We have a candidate in Dunkin hunter who I served with him and I serve with his father who, there's nothing wrong with his voting, but he is, uh, injured in a way in which he, uh, according to most polls I've seen all polls. I've seen he cannot win reelection. And as a Republican, I don't want to lose a seat that clearly is a seat that we need to have to get back to the majority.

Speaker 1: 05:25 So He is running in the 50th district.

Speaker 2: 05:28 He has a federal nomination that he says has been tied up in knots for too long. And basically he said, if he doesn't get, you know, positive word on this nomination going through, he will announce that he's in the running on November 3rd or shortly thereafter. You know, you heard them, they're basically hang on congressman hunter out to dry, right. Basically saying, this man is unelectable. And of course the subtext there is, I'm much more electable than, than hunter. If I run for this office.

Speaker 1: 05:56 And meanwhile of you have governor Newsome who signed a bill to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns. So what would happen if president Trump is blocked from the 2020 primary ballot?

Speaker 2: 06:10 You know, the Republican Party says that, but of course, and then that's, you know, there's constitutional issues there and legal disputes a plenty already around that. But of course, you know, that could be easily solved by president Trump releasing his taxes and then his neighbor assuredly would be there. But during the GOP convention, they voted to still send a contingent to the Republican convention, even if Trump's name doesn't appear in the 2020 election cycle here in California.

Speaker 1: 06:39 So they are preparing for possibly not having Trump's name on the primary ballot.

Speaker 2: 06:44 They are preparing for it. But I think it also has a practical effect to kind of, well earn money and to rally support. And a, and I think this is going to be a talking point along with the fact I should say, Gavin Newsome will increasingly be a tart talking point between now and the 2020 elections and, and the Republicans are really making this case, hey, if you're sick of homelessness and California is your, if you're sick of that, high real estate costs are housing crunch, think about voting Republican because the status quo isn't working out so well for a lot of Californians. Right now,

Speaker 1: 07:20 I've been speaking with Saul Gonzalez cohost of the California report. He attended the state GOP convention over the weekend in Indian Wells. Saul, thank you very much.

Speaker 2: 07:29 Hey Maureen, thank you. A pleasure.

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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.