California Republicans working toward what they believe will be the restoration of their party have launched a website. Led by Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, and supported by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New Way California is pushing for moderate policies they say were originated by former President Ronald Reagan.
"Republicans have been dismissed from a lot of public policy debates because the more partisan core of the party, and the partisan core of the left, are so stuck in rigid partisanship," said Kristin Olsen, a New Way board member who served as the party's leader in the State Assembly from 2014-2016.
The organization, which Mayes got rolling a year ago after leaving his post as Assembly Republican Leader, says its mission is simple: Put country and ideas over party. New Way's newly minted website tells readers "Californians are tired of partisanship and dysfunction." In a Facebook ad promoting the new website, Schwarzenegger calls for a party that is "open, inclusive and action-packed."
Olsen says Republicans have not done a good job lately in communicating their policies. Only one-fourth of California voters register as Republicans, posing a major threat to the party's long-term viability.
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For months, New Way California has sought to get a better understanding of how to effectively communicate with moderates disillusioned by the current state of the Republican Party. Among the solutions is engaging in substantive conversations with voters about education, individual freedom, an open economy and the environment.
Asked whether those policy goals resemble the current messaging of the Democratic Party, Olsen paused.
"That highlights the monumental challenge," she said. "We haven't done an effective job of articulating that we care about those issues. … Republicans have allowed Democrats to latch onto issues that historically have really been Republican issues."
New Way California admits it faces an uphill battle in articulating its vision.
"There isn't an overnight fix," Olsen said. "This is a slow journey that requires us to get out into communities."
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