Capitol Alert

Ted Cruz has a Delta smelt plan: Disco ball, a little Barry White

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, speaking at the state Republican Party Convention, dug into the state’s complex water policies Saturday, suggesting that it might be possible to replenish the Delta smelt population with a little romantic music and a disco ball.

More than a trillion gallons of fresh water have been dumped into the Pacific Ocean “because of a little three-inch bait fish,” Cruz said, saying the state’s environmental policies have overreached in protecting it.

“Now I am sure it drives our friends in the media crazy when I observe that in my experience three-inch fish go great with cheese and crackers,” Cruz said to applause during the afternoon speech.

He said the federal Endangered Species Act, rather than acting as a cudgel to stymie economic development, should have a provision for mitigation that if the population of the threatened species increases, the development could go forward.

“You put up a disco ball, you play some Barry White, you let nature take its course. If you increase the population for fisheries, 20 percent, 30 percent, you ought to be able to go with sending that water on to the farms and ranches in California who need it,” Cruz said. “That’s a win-win.”

Cruz is banking on California, typically known as a crucial source of financial contributions to GOP candidates, to serve as a firewall, helping him and GOP rival John Kasich to deny Republican frontrunner Donald Trump the requisite delegates to clinch the nomination.

Cruz, whose campaign boasts of having the most robust operation here ahead of the June 7 primary, empathized with California Republicans and told them that Trump has given $12,000 to top Democrats, Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“Year after year y’all are used to being treated by Republicans like an ATM to take your money and spend it in other states,” he said. “Well I can tell you right now we are going to spend more money in California than we raise in California.

“But for any of you who have your checkbooks handy, I would be glad for you to prove me wrong.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago