Brulte for Governor in 2018?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

There is a new form of punishment for those who dared to chair the California Republican Party: you have to run for offices that you know you can’t win.

This take-one-for-the-team reality has become a trend. Former party chair Ron Nehring made a no-hope run for lieutenant governor last year (and wrote some interesting emails I enjoyed reading). Now former chair Tom Del Beccaro appears to be getting closer to running for a U.S. Senate seat that is all but certain to stay in Democratic hands.

Why do they do this? The answer seems to be less about ambition – since winning the office isn’t possible – and more about duty. Nehring said he was running because he believes the party should field candidates for every post, and because competition is the essence of democracy.

Del Beccaro, in a recent email, said he was looking at the Senate race “because I want our side to be heard.” He added: “Over the next 4 years, there will likely be 2 US Senate seats and the Governor’s office in play.  If ever we are going to engage with California voters, the next four years will be the time.”

These runs indicate desperation. Party chairs have to recruit candidates, and recruitment must be hard, especially for statewide offices and for legislative offices in more Democratic regions of the state. So what’s the honorable thing to do when you can’t find a candidate? Become a candidate yourself.

Which begs the question: Can you name an obvious Republican candidate for governor in 2018? One answer to that question would be; No, the Republicans have no bench.

But I can name such a candidate. I’ll bet that today’s party chairman, Jim Brulte, will run himself.

Of course, if I prove to be right and Brulte ends up having to walk that plank, it soon may get harder to find new GOP chairs.

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