The Republican Party in California is fighting for relevance – “Dying at the box office,” as former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger once put it—so you would expect an effort to be made to field known, credible candidates in all statewide races. But with little over a month to go to file for a constitutional, statewide office there are few recognizable Republicans vying for those posts.
That doesn’t mean there are no Republicans who have expressed interest in statewide offices. But few elected officials or household names from other professions have taken the plunge, yet.
I’m all for the underdog (except in this coming Super Bowl with a nod to my New England roots) but in a state the size of California it is difficult to have an impact without some political base or deep financial pockets. In most cases, while new financial numbers are being crunched as I write this, Republicans who have stepped forward for these offices have raised little money, if any.
The governor’s race is the highest profile and the media is interested and closely following the campaigns of three Republicans: businessman John Cox, Assemblyman Travis Allen, and former Congressman Doug Ose. An additional 14 candidates have taken out papers to run for governor as a Republican but only one has any money in the bank as of the end of the year, and that was a mere 5–figures.
With the exception of the race for attorney general in which Eric Early and former judge Steven Bailey have raised over $100,000 each, Republicans in other statewide races have raised little money so far and have not generated much attention from the news media. Can the candidates who have declared for the statewide races draw out traditional Republican donors? So far, there is little evidence of that happening.
The situation can change, but these candidates who expressed interest have a high hill to claim in a state dominated by Democrats. Perhaps, some of the underdogs who take on the fight will build name identification for future runs if they don’t manage an upset this go around.
It is understandable that officials who already hold an office are not willing to give it up for a most difficult run, especially in a place where Republicans statewide rarely come close to taking a majority vote in those statewide races. But possibilities exist. Republican candidate for Secretary of State, Pete Peterson, fared the best in 2014 capturing 46.4% of the vote.
Creating a viable Republican Party in what is quickly becoming a one-party state is important for the commonwealth. Contesting the visible statewide offices is a way to begin building a Republican comeback.