I have been active in California Republican Politics for 21 years and counting.
I have had a front row seat to watch 20 years of Controlled Failure.
First off, let me say that I think it is absurd and insane for anyone to talk to Travis Allen about running for Congress. Dana Rohrabacher is not gone yet and Scott Baugh needs a clear avenue to get his clock cleaned once and for all should Dana lose the final tally. Travis has a young family and a financial planning business he is trying to get cranking again.
It is alleged that Harley Rhouda had about 3,000 paid operatives on the ground in the final days of the election as they appear to have made over 100,000 door knocks in the final 72 hours before election day. The GOP had not much more than a standard token ground game. I am not sure anyone outside of a Rich dude looking for a new adventure in CA wants to mess with that kind of fire.
The CAGOP is going to need a religious experience to manifest 3,000 volunteers in Orange County, let alone a Congressional District.
Having seen first hand what happened in Northern Nevada, I get 100% what happened. I saw canvassers sometimes 5 deep in precincts in Central Reno (think dem areas). I know of several people in Reno that were not contacted by anything other than mail (Registered R’s). Heller and Laxalt got beaten on the ground, period.
I’ve watched a generation of Republican consultants that eschew the ground game. You can’t win with just a ground game, and you can’t win with just media.
I’ve watched a generation of CAGOP Chairman talk a good game about grassroots but the grassroots and ground games continue to degrade. Jim Brulte was successful at digging the CAGOP out of Bankruptcy and holding a shrinking, fractured party structure together. Most of his predecessors that I knew failed at one or the other.
I have also watched as big money has allowed a very small oligarchy of consultants to basically take over the skeleton known as the California Republican Party. They dictate everything that goes on behind the scenes and had ironclad control until Chad Mayes’ very public meltdown shattered that paradigm of control. They are scrambling to regain that stranglehold.
For as much as I love Jim Brulte – that small group basically wielded a tremendous influence over him while grassroots groups have withered and died. I have seen a generation of term-limit babies that could care less about the condition of the CAGOP or the size of the GOP caucus in the legislature as long as they are one of them. Matthew Harper is a poster child for this, he did not and could not raise money (getting elected on $15,000 originally) and his vulnerability sapped resources out of other Republican Districts.
In my home Area, Kevin Kiley had $400,000 in the bank that he did not share with his colleagues as he just declared for State Senate. It is literally every man for himself.
Now, we are down to 11 Senators (out of 40) and likely 19 maybe 20 members of the Assembly (out of 80).
If Kiley beats Dahle or Dahle beats Kiley – there were be a feeding frenzy for the vacated Assembly seat. I am not sure why, but people seem to line up to run for state legislature for the privilege of being irrelevant. Special Bonus! Former Assemblymember Beth Gaines is going to run for that Senate Seat as well! (BTW – of the Three, Dahle is by far my favorite as I helped get him elected against the GOP establishment in 2012 and it is likely I will support Dahle in that SD01 Special Election)
Here’s my main point – our candidates (rumored and declared) for CAGOP Chair Present a striking contrast:
Career Activist and former 1996 Assembly Candidate Stephen Frank.
Former AD-74 (3 Terms) Assemblymember Travis Allen
Liberal Former Assemblymember David Hadley.
Hadley is making calls and locking up establishment endorsements. He is 100% more of the same. The same got us shellacked in the 2018 election and his solution was to take to AM 1070 KNX in LA and trash the sitting GOP President. I heard this from three people that listened to it live.
Filtering my past history with Steve Frank and focusing only 100% on his accomplishments, I do not think Steve Frank will be able to deliver on his plan for the CA GOP. While his talking points are cogent and his approach is better than I have seen him take in a long time, I don’t see a future for the CA GOP in electing a 72-year old Chairman with no demonstrated history of being able to organize or fundraise.
Frank has a successful online presence and serves as a voice for Conservative principles. I believe that Mr. Frank will continue well in to his golden years using his golden keyboard.
I took Steve Frank on in a CRA Chairman’s Race fight in 2013 and unseated an incumbent CRA President and unseated him as a CRA Vice President, I am worried that he is not able to organize grassroots either.
Steve Frank also lacks the charisma and presentation of Travis Allen.
I see the CAGOP Chairman’s race as a clear choice between two middle aged white guys, David Hadley and Travis Allen.
Hadley represents more of the same. Period. Nothing else matters as it pertains to him.
Travis Allen represents a different course. Regardless of his Governor Campaign, as a CAGOP Chairman he’d represent a mouthpiece for Republican Values, someone who is not afraid to mix it up with the other side, someone who will paint a clear contrast with the other side.
Travis Allen for his faults did have a rabid base of support and with some seasoned people coming alongside him could help harness that enthusiasm in to something real for the CAGOP. I really had not seen that since the days of McClintock for Governor in 2003.
We’ve tried the same approach for 20 years. I think it is time to burn it down and start over. I think someone like Travis Allen would be a great place to start trying to redefine the CAGOP.