In Part One, I detail some of the full-throated national debate on the G8 immigration bill. Despite spending hours on the Facebook and comment boards—and having a dozen google alerts— the action is so fast and furious it’s difficult to keep up.
Organizing the CAGOP congressmen by Latino CVAP (Latino citizen voting age population; a measure of potential voters) brings clarity. Those in all-white solidly GOP districts are hardliners. Those in middling districts are vague and muted. Those targeted and under frontal attack are cautiously moving toward G8 support. And then there are the exceptions, those I rate as “Pro G8” Outliers.
It is the outliers that tell the hidden story.
The Anti G8 Hardliners: LaMalfa, McClintock, Campbell, Rohrabacher and Hunter are hardliners in gated, all-white communities, impervious for the time being to Democrat attack. Their average Latino CVAP is 10.6%.
The Muted or Vague-Antis: Cook, McKeon, Royce, and Calvert can be roughly categorized as muted on G8 or vaguely anti G8. They are all in various degrees of trouble demographically with records of support for anti-immigration legislation but with the protective cloak of incumbency, fund raising ability and a still dormant Latino demographic. But their Democratic challengers are of higher quality, and as the Dems pick off the targeted districts, they’re probably next. Their average Latino CVAP is 23.1%.
The Targeted and Moving-Toward G8: Denham, Miller and Valadao seem to be cautiously moving toward support of G8. They are all targeted by the Democrats 2014 Red-to-Blue strategy and on the GOP save list. If the winds blow against G8, they will have plausible deniability as they are only having “listening forums” so far. Their average Latino CVAP is 35.9%
The “Pro G8” Outliers: Issa, McCarthy, and Nunes seem “Pro G8” though none have come out for the bill. Nunes is a strong incumbent, even given a high Latino CVAP. Nunes strikes me as a congressman who knows his Latino voters and is fully engaged. McCarthy—as House Whip—can’t tip his hand and may not be fully on board with G8. His behind the scenes role is complex and delicate. Issa is the truest outlier; pro pathway although he is a very strong politician with a low Latino CVAP. Their average Latino CVAP is 22.3 % counter-intuitively low.
IMHO, the three outliers are the potential CA leaders. I think that Issa in particular is taking a moral stance on the merits but has also done the political calculus. In the words of Tony Quinn, Issa is a Republican who can count. McCarthy can also count. McCarthy—I believe—is playing both a national and a local California game. Nunes is perhaps the most vocally “Pro G8.” While he hasn’t come out clearly, he is the most supportive of G8s components.
The story the “Pro G8” Outliers tell is of cautious movement toward immigration reform, which could however collapse at any moment.
The Red-to-Blue Backdrop: The CA DEMS have an aggressive, well funded campaign to “turn red to blue,” with voter registration efforts in Latino areas. The results? On Election Day 2012, the SF Chronicle said:
Democrats could gain a total of six House seats — the maximum they projected — if they also defeat Republicans Dan Lungren …and Brian Bilbray… Along with the Bono Mack defeat, Democrats also won an open seat in Ventura, where Julia Brownley beat Tony Strickland. Openly gay Asian American Mark Takano beat Republican John Tavaglioni in Riverside, and Alan Lowenthal beat Republican Gary DeLong in Long Beach. Plus Dems held all their must-hold seats: John Garamendi (west of Sacto), Lois Capps (Santa Barbara) and Jerry McNerney (Stockton).
That larger role in congressional races… included the party designing and printing 124 mail pieces, logging more than 3.7 million knocks and dials to reach voters, 50 party field staff hired to setup the infrastructure for “Get Out The Vote” programs, 5.1 million pieces of campaign mail in mailboxes, and 607 staff working party canvass programs.
A Potential CAGOP Counter Strategy: Those who read me regularly (perhaps 3 souls statewide, not including relatives and offspring bringing my total readers to 5) know that I offer strategies to address the existential challenges of the party. Gulp! Here goes…
The California Republican Party is uniquely challenged by the immigration-demographic problem. The issues are hotly debated nationally, but the CAGOP is mute.
We need a debate in California!
The Hardliners should articulate their positions boldly (as they have begun to here.) There are good arguments (here, here and here) against G8 but also plenty of very poor arguments. The best arguments are on the thoughtful hard right conservative blogs but the bad arguments tend to drown them out. And then there are the demagogues, racists and dummies who can’t count.
The Mute, the Vague and the Targeteds— AKA the great mushy middle—should as soon as possible get off the fence and at least tepidly join the fracas. They will have to vote on this huge, stinking, ugly mess eventually. Although the urge to wait and see is powerful, those who are currently or about to be targeted can’t indefinitely keep a low profile.
The “Pro G8” Outliers should move from cautious, nuanced support to full advocacy, dropping the quotation marks and becoming the leaders they are capable of being. There are also very strong arguments in favor of a G8 type comprehensive immigration bill (here, here and here.) Someone in CA must voice them.
There is no avoiding this debate. In the medium to long run, we are in an existential crisis.
First the Democrats will peel off the low hanging fruit, Miller, possibly Valadao and Denham. Then they’ll go after the mushy middle, Calvert, McKeon, Cook and Royce. In 2 to 4 cycles, Rohrabacher may retire and Hunter may be gone. Then how long can McClintock or LaMalfa hold on?
And what will Issa or McCarthy have to show for their leadership positions as we bleed and attrite? Already an embarassment to the national party, how will the CAGOP look if the delegation drops from 15 to 12 to 9 and lower?
The CAGOP is very weak. Every indication without a solution to the problem presented by the rise of immigrant populations against the historical errors of the CAGOP, the Grand Old Party in California will be dead and gone within a decade.