California Republican Party Endorsements Mysteriously Absent on Primary Election Ballot

Democrat, American Independent, Green, Peace & Freedom – all of these political parties list endorsements in California’s Primary Election Sample Ballot. Missing? Endorsements from the California Republican Party (CRP). But what effect could this have on primary election results?

The Sacramento Bee notes a range of responses to the absence of CRP endorsements, from Party Chairman Jim Brulte’s reassurance that no endorsement is better than repeated "wrong" endorsements to one Republican voter’s frustration over lack of party guidance. Brulte also cited problematic timing in the deadline for submitting endorsements as the reason for their omission.

But how much difference does a California Republican Party endorsement make? These endorsements reflect support from the state Republican Party, but there are numerous other Republican organizations that endorse in races throughout the state.

Local county Republican Party Central Committees endorse candidates and ballot measures. Their endorsements aren’t included in sample ballots; however, local parties are often more likely to support their endorsed candidates with mailers, door hangers, and other forms of communication that persuade an influential number of voters.

Big donors and those who independently promote one candidate over another heavily influence elections as well. In California, one particularly influential individual is Charles Munger, Jr. Charles Jr., son of Warren Buffet investment partner Charles Munger Sr., has been a driving influence in California’s political games. Charles Jr. has also set up PACs (political action committees) to support his chosen candidates and ballot measures, one of which is the Spirit of Democracy PAC, which had contributions and expenditures over $3.3 million in 2012 alone. Charles Jr.’s sister Molly is also a major California political donor.

Munger Jr. was a heavy driver in the push for California’s Prop 14 in 2010, which changed primary elections into a top-two or ‘jungle primary.’ This means only the top two vote getters in California primary elections move on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In districts that lean heavily Republican or Democrat, often the only two options in the general election are of the same party.

The jungle primary also begs the question, given a district flooded with candidates from one dominating party, say Democrat, and only a couple from the minority parties in that district, could two minority candidates win out, making it to the general election ballot, over the diluted numbers of the majority?

Whether the exclusion of CRP endorsements from the California primary sample ballots will make any significant difference is yet to be seen, but one aspect of the election is sure, county central committees, PACs, and rich political donors will continue to hold great sway and play in California politics. The battle of money and endorsements rages on in California.

A list of California Republican Party endorsements can be found here.


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