Hispanic voters are at the heart of a plan to rebuild and reinvigorate the Republican Party in California, the politician expected to take over the leadership of the state GOP has been telling insiders.
Former state Sen. Jim Brulte, the frontrunner to become the next chair of the California GOP has made the state’s Latino electorate the centerpiece of a makeover he says will turnaround the Republican Party’s fortunes.
“Jim Brulte says he has a six-year-plan to make the GOP the party of Hispanics in California,” says political consultant William Orozo. “He says he’s going to make Latinos forget about Proposition 187 and Pete Wilson.
“And who knows? Politics sometimes has such a short attention span that in six years, 2019, he might just succeed.”
Prop 187 alienated Latinos and was the downfall of the California GOP
Proposition 187 is the anti-immigrant state measure that the GOP championed in the mid-1990s that many blame for alienating Latinos and for the downfall of the Republican Party in the state since that time.
Wilson was the Republican California governor who made Proposition 187 his personal crusade.
Approved by voters in 1994, the measure sought, among other things, to require police, health care professionals and teachers to verify and report the immigration status of all individuals, including children.
The courts eventually dismantled the measure and made it meaningless except as a symbol for Hispanics of GOP exclusion.
The decline of the state GOP became evident this past election in California when only 29 percent of the state’s voters were registered as Republicans, compared to 43 percent for Democrats.
On Monday, California Republican activists became the latest to meet in an attempt to figure out a game plan for making their party viable again.
It was at that meeting in San Diego that Brulte announced he would be a candidate for state GOP chairman, a position he is expected to win.
Jim Brulte may have a tough time with Tea Partiers
In pushing his plan to woo Latinos, though, Brulte will have to walk a fine line with the state’s die-hard conservatives and Tea Party people, say insiders.
“But Jim knows where the future of California politics is,” said one GOP insider. “It’s the Latino vote, and he knows you have to go after it as you would a pretty girl because, as 2012 showed, the Latino vote is the darling of American politics right now.”
According to insiders, Brulte’s rebuilding is a six-year-plan because the state party has problems that go beyond having alienated Hispanics, resulting in not having any Republican holding a statewide elected office.
The state party is almost broke, with a half-million-dollar debt and down to only three full-time staffers, two of whom work from home. It also has almost no grassroots organization to speak of.
In Brulte, the GOP has a leader who typifies the about-face the party faces, say insiders.
His legislative record was that of a conservative, but he recognizes the new political landscape in California.
“His voting record is strongly conservative, but he also knows how to reach out to moderates and Democrats,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney.
Republican consultant Luis Alvarado, who is also president of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Greater Los Angeles, is among those Hispanics who are encouraged.
“We’re going back to the party of Shogun-type dynasties, where the Tea Party has their coalition, and the moderates have their coalition, and it’s going to be a battle to see who comes out on top,” he had said just weeks ago, in the aftermath of the election.
Now he says Brulte may be the ideal candidate for the political challenge at hand, adding:
“I have not heard a single person tell me that they would be opposed to him as a leader.”