Now all the state GOP needs is candidates who can win

Nevada County’s very own congressmen—Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock—joined 104 other Republicans Thursday to support the latest Hail Mary attempt to overturn the November presidential results.

LaMalfa, who has been beating Donald Trump’s voter fraud drum since election day, and McClintock signed up for amicus briefs in support of Texas’ attempt to get the Supreme Court to overturn the presidential votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.

LaMalfa also made a network appearance earlier to this week to denounce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest pandemic crackdown. Of course, it was on Newsmax, the new alternative reality for Trumpies. The network is said to be taking viewers from Fox News because it refuses to concede that Trump lost the election.

McClintock has also backed the claims of a rigged vote, and has lashed out at California’s handling of the pandemic. To their credit, Nevada County’s voters rejected both of these magical thinkers at the November election.

Texas is claiming the states in question violated election laws, and like the other cases pursued by Trump’s backers, are long on conspiracies and short on facts. The Texas suit repeats many of the claims already dismissed by other courts, including the Supreme Court.

The latest antics by LaMalfa and McClintock illustrate a quandary that’s facing California’s Republican Party—the party has broad support on many of the issues it backs, but has trouble finding candidates people will actually vote for outside of the state’s most conservative areas.

November’s election results illustrate the problem. On the one hand, California voters sided with Republicans on seven of the 11 state propositions where the state party took a position. On issues like rent control, affirmative action, property tax increases and letting gig workers remain independent contractors, Californians stood with the GOP. The state Democratic Party had four wins and seven loses.

On the other hand, the Democrats maintained a super majority in the state Legislature, just 11 Republicans were elected among the state’s 53 House members, and Joe Biden racked up a 5 million vote edge over Trump. No Republican has been elected to statewide office in 14 years.

But being right on the issues gives the GOP hope going forward. Gov. Gavin Newson, who faces reelection in 2022, looks less invincible than he once did, the Republicans won’t have to face Kamala Harris when her U.S. Senate seat comes up in two years, and Republicans are hopeful voters will turn on Democrats who run the state as they tire of whipsawing coronavirus rules and scandals.

“I would say continue to underestimate us at your own peril,” said Jessica Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party. “California Democrats have shown they are not focused on making our state great. They are focused on a radical left agenda that is not working for most Californians.”

The challenge for the party is to find candidates who will appeal to voters outside the state’s conservative strongholds. It has been clear in recent years that white guys taking conservative social positions can’t get the job done in California.

Part of the solution is to recruit more candidates who reflect California’s electorate, said Suzette Martinez Valladares of Santa Clarita, the only Republican to flip a Democratic-held assembly seat in November. She’s 39, Latina, and doesn’t come from the corporate world.

“There’s been a narrative of what Republicans look like, sound like and care about. And that’s not true in the California Republican Party now, and we’re seeing that through my election,” she said. “I’m a Latina, I’m a mom of a three-year-old. I’m a Millennial.”

Valladares was recruited to run by other elected Republican woman and Patterson, who is also a Latina. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield also sought out candidates who reflected the changing demographics of their districts. That led to the victories of Young Kim and Michelle Steel, two Korean-Americans who ousted incumbent Democrat congressmen Gil Cisneros and Harley Rouda.

How this play out in a Republican Party that has become a haven for disillusioned whites and is still dominated at the national level by Trump remains to be seen. The most likely Republican to challenge Newson in two years is your basic RINO: A pro-choice, pro same-sex marriage, believer in climate change who says he didn’t vote for Trump, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. We’ll see how well that goes over with the Trump diehards in 2022.

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