California GOP Moving Toward Center (Again)

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Hydrogen Highway (Ann Johannson / Associated Press)
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Hydrogen Highway (Ann Johannson / Associated Press)
Los Angeles, CA

Caving in to the conventional wisdom that moving to the center will garner popular support and electoral victory, some California Republicans are stating their disenchantment with conservative stances.

Former GOP state party chairman George “Duf” Sundheim, who is considering a Senate run, was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle: “If it’s a Republican versus Democrat…if it’s that narrative, I don’t have a chance…I won’t be going around with an ‘R’ on my forehead.” He also slammed GOP conservatives in the nation’s capital, saying they are “hurting the brand.”

The California GOP has already abandoned one plank of social conservatism, having voted overwhelmingly at its recent state convention to formally recognize a gay GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans’ California chapter. That chapter is one of the first gay groups to be officially sanctioned by a state Republican party.

Brandon Gesicki, a delegate from Carmel, intoned, “The fringe does not control the party anymore. We truly are a big tent once again.”

Yet the move toward the center does not guarantee victory. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who ran for controller, nor Pete Peterson, who ran for secretary of state, both espoused moving to the center, and were both endorsed by many newspapers, but both lost their races.