California Republicans are gathering at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento this weekend for their biannual state party convention, an occasion for activists to celebrate the modest electoral gains their party made in the midterm election and to plot its future.
State Republicans are coming off a fall election in which they denied Democrats another two years of supermajority status in the Legislature. But GOP candidates failed to win any of the eight statewide offices, and the party faltered in every targeted congressional race, ultimately losing a seat.
The keynote speaker is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a possible 2016 presidential hopeful who for years has stood out as a shining example of a Republican who could win in a decidedly blue state. Christie is currently experiencing a bit of a rough patch in the polls, however, as he strains to make inroads with national donors and other key early groups.
The convention will also be an opportunity for a pair of former state party chairmen – Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro – to get some face time as they consider running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Democrat Barbara Boxer. The only announced candidate so far is Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris. Another possible Republican contender, Assemblyman Rocky Chávez of Oceanside, plans to host a Friday night reception.
Republicans will be electing officers for chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary, along with some regional vice chairs. As of Thursday, Chairman Jim Brulte and Vice Chair Harmeet Dhillon had yet to draw any challengers. Another term would take Brulte though the 2016 election.
Stay tuned to Capitol Alert for convention dispatches from Christopher Cadelago and David Siders throughout the weekend.
VIDEO: The California Republican Party is celebrating its successes – what successes? – at its biannual convention this weekend, Dan Walters says.
ARE WE THERE YET?: While nearly three-quarters of California voters believe state and local officials should spend more money to repair crumbling roads, they offer mixed views on how to pay for it, according to a new Field Poll. Voters are strongly resistent to the kind of technology necessary for a new user fee proposed by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins earlier this month, while dividing along partisan lines on increasing the gas tax. Cadelago has more in his story from today’s paper.
GOOD TIMES: Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, who narrowly won re-election last November in the most expensive House race in the country, hosts a swearing-in ceremony and open house for his new district office space, 10 a.m. tomorrow at 8950 Cal Center Dr. in Sacramento. Former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg will administer the oath of office. New Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who made the jump from Sacramento to D.C., also has a district swearing-in planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and actor Tim Robbins are scheduled to speak.
MARCHING ON: The State of Jefferson is slowly making its way across Northern California. Supporters visited the Capitol last month to submit “declarations of separation” for three more counties, and the boards of Lassen and Lake counties backing secession in recent weeks, bringing the total to eight. Now Jeffersonians have their sights set on El Dorado County, with a townhall meeting set for 2 p.m. tomorrow at the American Legion Hall in Placerville.
Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago. Alexei Koseff of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.