Capitol Alert

Ted Cruz alums focus on down-ballot California races

Ted Cruz speaks to his supporters during a lunch banquet at the California Republican Party Convention on April 30, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame. Cruz dropped out of the presidential race just a few days later.
Ted Cruz speaks to his supporters during a lunch banquet at the California Republican Party Convention on April 30, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame. Cruz dropped out of the presidential race just a few days later. aseng@sacbee.com

Ted Cruz’s California operation, which wound down when the Texas senator bowed out the race a month before the primary here, is quietly whirling back to life as the fall election approaches.

Cruz alumni on Tuesday will announce plans to steer their tens of thousands of state volunteers toward nearly two dozen competitive congressional and legislative races identified by the party as crucial.

Led by Cruz National Spokesman and California Chairman Ron Nehring, California Political Director Michael Schroeder and State Director Jason Scalese, the goal is to supplement the state GOP’s emphasis on tossup down-ticket races.

California Republicans are bracing for what could be a tough election. While Cruz has personally affirmed his endorsement of Donald Trump, the presidential candidate has only the slimmest chance of winning in California, given its political makeup, and is encouraging supporters to assist his bid in neighboring Nevada and Arizona.

California Democrats, meantime, have seized on Trump’s controversies to punish Republicans up and down the ballot. Nehring stressed the push by Cruz alumni is not about Trump.

“This is about supporting the entire ticket – from Donald Trump all the way down to judicial races,” he said.

The Cruz team this week held its first Monday conference call in months where leaders said they planned to blast out their website to volunteers by email and ask the activists to personally get involved in a targeted race. Cruzalumni.com contains contact information for the campaigns and includes a form that, when completed, sends a volunteer’s information to county Republican committees.

With Trump trailing in polls, down-ballot races are receiving renewed attention from leaders of both parties. As Democrats work to win back control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, President Barack Obama is rolling out scores of legislative endorsements.

On the Republican side, House Speaker Paul Ryan is crossing the country to fortify his House advantage. Ryan is scheduled to be in California later this week to campaign with Scott Jones, the county sheriff challenging Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, as well as Republican Reps. Jeff Denham, Steve Knight and David Valadao.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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