California GOP Meets to Plot Comeback

California’s Republican Party has its share of problems.

Rubin Barrales uses some tact when he describes the California Republican Party’s current position. “We’re definitely at a point of reflection," he says.

Barrales heads a conservative group called Grow Elect, which is focused on putting Latino Republicans in office. If the Republican Party wants to survive, he says, it needs to do more than translate campaign materials into Spanish.

"I’m not talking about outreach. I’m not interested in outreach," Barrales says. "I’m interested in inclusion. I’m interested in bringing the Latino population into the Republican Party so they have a seat at the table."

The party is hoping the first step toward a recovery is the election of its new chair, Jim Brulte, who led both the Assembly and Senate Republican caucuses. Robert Huckfeldt, a political scientist who directs the University of California Center Sacramento, says Brulte is the right pick.

"He’s got a history in Sacramento of being able to work both sides of the aisle," Huckfeldt notes. "He’s got a history of being a reasonable person to deal with, both within and outside the party. And I think his vision of the party is going to be different than what we’ve seen in the last several years."

Brulte takes over a party that’s deep in debt, and increasingly marginalized in both the state house and voter rolls. His uphill challenge begins this weekend in Sacramento when the Republican Party gathers for its spring convention.
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