Monday, August 7, 2023





        In a sign that it will go along with ex-President Donald Trump no matter how self-destructive he might want it to become, the California Republican Party has now changed its rules for next year’s primary election to make itself essentially irrelevant.


        Irrelevance, of course, is familiar for this party, which holds fewer than one-third of the seats in each house of California’s Legislature. That leaves it unable to block tax increases, keep state constitutional amendments it does not like off the statewide ballot or push successfully for any of its fiscally and socially conservative ideas. Essentially, the state GOP’s ineptitude leaves it at the legislative mercy of Democratic Party majorities that rule the state Assembly and Senate without restraints.


        Results have included loss of local control over land use and development, continuing lack of success in solving homelessness, a budget deficit after years of surpluses, needle exchanges for drug addicts whose habits are thus at least partially supported by taxpayers, no cash bail for almost all crimes short of the most vicious felonies, and much more.


        It looked for awhile like the GOP might regain some relevance in the presidential primary election next March, as the state party’s rules for the last few presidential cycles allowed delegates to the Republican National Convention to be chosen by congressional district. Since every congressional district in the state was to choose three delegates to help pick the GOP presidential candidate, there was the strong possibility that Republican candidates would turn up to campaign even in districts dominated by Democrats. For just one example, the three delegates from Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district would have as many convention votes as those from the Sierra Nevada Mountains foothill district of conservative Republican Tom McClintock.


        But that might have meant something less than total domination for Trump. And so, with Trump leading all polls of Republicans in this state by huge margins, the California GOP opted to kowtow to his campaign, which wants all 169 California convention delegates in Trump’s column, figuring this group might clinch the nomination for him.


        Now, rather than letting Republican voters in each congressional district make their own choices, all California’s delegates will go to any candidate who gets even one vote more than 50 percent of the state’s total. If no one wins a majority of the party vote, delegates to the convention will be distributed proportionately. There is no point anymore for Republicans like Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy or Tim Scott to campaign in places like Los Angeles or San Francisco or Sacramento, all with huge majorities of Democratic voters.


        Rather, any who campaign in California despite Trump’s dominating position in all polls – unaffected so far by any of his indictments and lawsuit losses – will stick to places where Republicans are at least somewhat competitive with Democrats, like Orange and San Diego counties and some parts of the Central Valley. Any Republican showing up elsewhere will be seeking campaign donations, not votes.


        Trump’s win here will likely now be easy, and no one else figures to be able to dent his control over the California delegation to the national convention in Milwaukee.


        This also means Democratic Party ideas will get no intellectual competition in districts where the party now holds sway or even in several of the paltry 10 districts the GOP now holds, out of California’s 52. Most Democratic voters will learn nothing about Republican ideas unless they deliberately seek out such information, a relative rare action.


        Yet, the state GOP’s chair, Jessica Millan Patterson, as usual portrays defeat as triumph. “(The) vote by the California Republican Party executive committee was a massive victory for California Republicans …eager to have a say in deciding who our party’s 2024 presidential nominee will be,” she said. Wrong.


        For if the vote were by congressional district, as before, even Republicans in strong Democratic areas could have had a voice and a presence. Now they will have none, if current polls are correct (and polls have generally understated Trump’s support in the past).


        The change, thus, virtually gives up any voice many California Republicans might have had, guaranteeing the party more years of irrelevancy.


Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is

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