Opinion

It’s Time for California Republicans to Go on Offense, Hard

Written by Philip Mauriello Jr., Managing Attorney of Arete Law A.P.C. and host of the California Underground Podcast

California always seems to be the butt of jokes for conservatives across the country. Our state is viewed as the wacky epicenter of progressivism and wannabe socialism. The majority of the Left’s crazy ideas seemed to have oozed out of the primordial ooze of deep blue California.

Therefore, it’s easy to just write off California as a lost cause. It is too liberal, it is too far gone, it is too wacky for Republicans to make a play in California. Why bother spending money on a state that will not likely produce any results?

Well, the 2020 election showed us one thing, the Left is not taking any state for granted. With the flipping of usually red states like Arizona, and especially Georgia, the map changed a little more for Republicans going forward. Ask Democrats 5-8 years ago whether they would ever flip Georgia blue, and their answer would probably not be too certain. However, after getting enough people on the ground and chipping away, they finally reached their goal and now Georgia is a swing state. Even the Republic of Texas sees its huge Republican margins closing with each subsequent election. Maybe at this moment people do not think Texas will flip, but that is not stopping the Left from making incremental gains every election cycle.

One of my biggest gripes about the Republican Party is that they fail to be bold when it comes to flipping states or making them competitive battlegrounds. It was not until President Trump came along in 2016 and broke down the “Blue Wall” of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania did we see a Republican actually go on offense. Also, Republicans seem to rest on their laurels too much in thinking that a state is safe or not.

When I was in Arizona volunteering for the Trump campaign as part of the Lawyers for Trump group, the Director there had an air of optimism that Arizona was already in the bag for President Trump. That turned out not to be the case. In a surprise result, President Biden flipped the state and now Arizona has not one but two Democratic Senators.

President Trump’s boldness to claim a state was competitive or not may have been mostly puffery and ego talking (like saying New York would flip red), but it did raise a good point. Why aren’t Republicans working to flip more blue states to purple? Why does it seem like we are always on defense hoping to hold off the Democrats for one more cycle?

Here in California, we are all aware of the looming recall for Governor Newsom. It would be a win to even get the recall on the ballot. It would be an even bigger win to get Californians to vote yes on recalling him. The Recall symbolizes more than just frustration with Newsom and his handling of the state, but a sign that politics is not completely monolithic in the Golden State.

There is plenty of ammo for Republicans to go after too. Recently Newsom and his Democratic supermajority just signed a law to retroactively pay an outstanding debt with a public outreach company that Xavier Becerra signed up with. The debt was $34 million dollars, and even after it was blocked, Newsom and his cronies rammed through legislation to make it go away. An investigation has shown Newsom raked in millions of dollars from health care companies in the past year. The list of corruption and malfeasance goes on and on. To say the Democrats hold California because they are doing such a good job would be laughable.

With all this corruption going on, California Republicans (with the backing of the National party) should be going full court press on California. Democrats do not usually think they have to worry about defending California, so what if we catch them flat footed? What if instead of Republicans resting on their laurels, we actually catch Democrats resting and start to chip away?

Take for example Tamika Hamilton. A Republican candidate for the Third Congressional District of California. She ran in a race with little backing and was able to bring the race within single digits. This was a district that was solidly Democrat, but now it is single digits. Through voter registration and outreach, Republicans were able to put pressure on a comfortable seat. Or how about Mike Garcia? A candidate who flipped a congressional seat for the first time in 22 years. These are signs of hope and not despair.

Republicans at the state and national level should look at this and say, hey maybe we can make inroads in California. Every seat at the state and federal level should be pushed for a win. Maybe Tamika did not win this go around, but her race put her district on the map as a district the RNC is going to focus on flipping in 2022. Those incremental changes make a difference in the long run if you do not take your foot off the gas.

This comes back to my tired saying I always harp on. Turning around California will be like turning around an aircraft carrier. To think that a transcendent political figure will ride in and save California is naive and foolish. However, to make inroads and continue to win battle after battle, things start to turn around.

Are Republicans working on bringing Independents and disenfranchised Democrats to their Party? They should be. This is as good a time as any. Can Republicans bump their registration percentage from 25% to 35%? How about shooting for 45%? All of a sudden, a 55% to 45% Democrat/Republican breakdown in California makes it a much more competitive state. It is not a slam dunk.

Can Republicans see the success of candidates like Tamika Hamilton, Mike Garcia, and Michelle Steel and use that as a blueprint to recruit and run great candidates? Will those candidates then start to flip seats in Congress and in Sacramento?

Suddenly California is not a wasteland of progressive dominance and starts to become more competitive. The trick is to keep pushing and not let up, year after year.

No one thought Georgia was going to turn blue until it did. No one except for the Democrats who put their people on the ground and worked hard to make small changes year after year.

If Republicans go on offense hard in California, who knows? Maybe we may say in 8 years, who knew California would flip red.