Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was on a California tour and penned an op-ed in the FlashReport arguing how Republicans can win back California and, in doing so, undermines Abel Maldonado’s campaign for governor:

A more libertarian Republican might be able to attract support from California voters by ending the horribly unjust practice of mandatory minimum sentencing, in which non-violent drug offenders are put in jail along with murderers and rapists—often for sentences longer than murderers and rapist. Many of these offenders have no prior record. It is wrong to ruin the lives of young people for making a mistake and I will always do everything I can to keep non-violent offenders out of prison. I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to end mandatory minimum sentencing.

Frankly, it’s a great piece and I agree with Paul’s approach. The challenge is implementation, as large elements of the coalition that unites behind Republicans wouldn’t buy Paul’s strategy, particularly in California, where the party has shrunk so much to be controlled by the most ideological members. From my catbird seat, a very small share of California Republicans are libertarians. Many true libertarians have left to become “no party preference” voters, and vascillate between voting Republican, Democrat, or not at all.

Republicans can get these voters back–but only if they have candidates to attract the voters. And, those candidates have to get through primary elections at the bottom of the rung and successively climb the ladder toward statewide office, and then successfully make it through tough top-two primaries to be on the general election ballot. That’s no small feat, and there’s no indication that the Proposition 25 top-two primary will make a remarkable difference.

It can happen, but will take a long time. This has been the goal of Charles Munger, who has spent millions to elect GOP candidates who can attract majority support in swing districts. However, it’s been largely unsuccessful, partially because other special interests–particularly regulated businesses and law enforcement–are beholden to the strong Democratic dominance of state politics. Becoming a strong funder of the GOP rebuilding effort is risky, as it’ll likely take 20 years to make a meaningful impact at the statewide level. That’s how challenged the GOP bench is. During that rebuilding time, the special interests will be pummeled in the Legislature unless they share their wealth with the Democrats.

Good luck, Mr. Brulte. Rand Paul is right, but it’s no easy task.

This post originally appeared in The Nooner