LOS ANGELES -- This would seem a moment of great opportunity for California Republicans. The state has become a national symbol of fiscal turmoil and dysfunction, the Legislature is nearly as unpopular as Congress and Democrats control every branch of government.

But instead, the state party -- once a symbol of Republican hope and geographical reach and which gave the nation Ronald Reagan (and Richard M. Nixon) -- is caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.

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