Capitol Alert

‘Build the Wall’ dinner at Claim Jumper: California Tea Party fights GOP ‘establishment’

Travis Allen says ‘it’s about time’ for CA GOP to embrace Trump

With a month left until California Republicans select their party’s next leader, Travis Allen is imploring his party to be more supportive of President Donald Trump. Some Republicans fear the candidate is adopting a losing strategy.
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With a month left until California Republicans select their party’s next leader, Travis Allen is imploring his party to be more supportive of President Donald Trump. Some Republicans fear the candidate is adopting a losing strategy.

Tea Party Republicans are getting tired of the California GOP.

Coming off a devastating performance in the midterms, some Republicans in California are calling for a full embrace of President Donald Trump, even at a time when the president has contributed to historic Democratic victories across the state.

Loyalists blame “the establishment” for the losses and demand the party move in a more pro-Trump direction.

That’s why California’s Tea Party Caucus is hosting a “Build the Wall Dinner” on Saturday.

The sold-out 7 p.m. event will be held at the Claim Jumper restaurant — just a couple blocks away from the state GOP’s annual convention. Sean Spicer, Trump’s former press secretary, will give his convention speech at the Sacramento Hyatt Regency at the same time.

John Berry, a convention delegate who will be attending the Tea Party event, said he’s disappointed to miss out on Spicer. Still, he’s excited to join his friends in condemning moderate Republicans.

“There’s so much frustration with the establishment,” Berry said. “We’ve declined significantly in the last few years, and I hope people look to the Tea Party and see we’re leading the way forward. Republicans are unfortunately about the establishment. We need to go in a whole new direction that’s a little more bold and forceful.”

The California Republican Party will decide its direction this weekend when an estimated 1,400 delegates will select a new leader at the convention.

At one end of the ideological spectrum is Jessica Patterson, who has the support of nearly every Republican lawmaker, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. On the other end are former state Assemblyman Travis Allen and longtime party activist Steve Frank, who are calling for a full embrace of President Donald Trump.

“What’s at stake is the future of the California Republican Party,” Berry said. “If we go down the establishment path, which is what Jessica represents, then our decline will continue. But if we go a different direction, people will rally to our cause.”

The 30 Republican lawmakers backing Patterson couldn’t disagree more.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, said his colleagues in the Legislature “are very concerned” about a potential victory for Allen, who disagrees with the premise that Trump “is somehow an anathema to California voters.”

While he wouldn’t identify members by name, Mayes said at least three Republicans would leave the party if Allen were elected chairman. Mayes said he plans to remain a Republican.

Allen accused Mayes and other longtime Republicans of being aligned with an “establishment that has led our party to almost complete irrelevancy.”

Party officials say there’s room for all conservative points of view.

“We are looking forward to hearing Sean Spicer speak on Saturday night to a sold-out crowd,” said Matt Fleming, spokesman for the CA GOP. “The Tea Party Caucus usually has an event on either Friday or Saturday night, so this is nothing new, and we’ve never seen this as a competing event. Our convention is big enough for more than one gathering.”

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
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