Republicans lost all seven of California’s competitive House races, as well as every statewide constitutional office. They now control barely a quarter of the seats in the state Legislature.
California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte says the national GOP should take very seriously the state party’s dismal showing in last month’s midterms.
Brulte spoke with CapRadio Capital Bureau Chief Ben Adler to discuss the election and what's next for the party.
You can listen to the full interview here, or read highlights from it below.
On how poorly the midterms went for California Republicans
I was disappointed but I wasn’t surprised. In fact, with the exception of the U.S. Senate, there was a pretty big blue wave across the country. We lost 40 congressional seats — a number of them in districts Donald Trump won. We lost 380 state legislative seats. I believe we lost seven governorships. So I wasn’t surprised. Of the 40 congressional seats, we lost seven in California. And of the 380 state legislative seats, we lost eight in California. So I wasn’t surprised. But I was disappointed.
On why the party hasn't fared well in California
Well, the demographic changes that have really affected California, I think, is the proximate cause of our declining electoral victories. In 1996, 51 percent of the population of CA was white, 37 percent was registered Republican. Today, we’re a majority minority state. About 37 percent of the population is white. And Republican registration is at about 25 percent. There’s a direct correlation. And interestingly enough, other minority majority states – there are only five of us – have had similar experiences.
On Republicans successes nationally and how California relates
We did have a good election in the Senate. We had an election that defied the historic norm. Beyond that, it was a typical midterm where we lost 40 congressional seats, which as I said is on the high end. We lost seven governorships. And we lost 380 state legislative seats. California didn’t get into trouble overnight. The decline began 22 years ago. And my warning, which I’ve been fairly consistent about giving to other states when I’m back at Republican meetings is, don’t think California’s just a bunch of crazy whackos. We’re the leading edge of demographic change. And that demographic change is coming to communities in your state as well.
On possible next steps for the California GOP
Republicans have to continue to do what we’ve been calling them to do: Get out of your comfort zone. Go into the neighborhoods, the emerging neighborhoods of California, share your principles, share your philosophy, share your policies, and share your hearts. If you don’t share your heart, if people don’t think you care about them, they won’t care what you have to say.
And understand that we didn’t get into trouble overnight. It’s been 30 years since we’ve carried California for president. It’s been 30 years since we carried California for U.S. Senate. It’s been 24 years since we elected a non-incumbent Republican statewide in a regularly scheduled election. Republicans have to work harder, recognize we’re probably going to be outspent. But if you care about the future of California, and you don’t like where Democrats are taking you, then California's worth fighting for. That’s our message. It hasn’t changed.