The Magazine

From the Bottom Up

The California GOP rebuilding project.

Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By FRED BARNES
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Second, Republicans are making a long-overdue effort to capture more of the Asian vote. The Asian population is growing faster than Hispanics—by 2 percent each election cycle as a percentage of the voting population. And Asians appear more receptive to GOP overtures than Hispanics. Steel invested in a test of Asian voters in Nevada in 2012: When heavily courted by mail and phone calls, 47 percent voted for Mitt Romney, far more than in California (23 percent) or nationally (24 percent).

“If you speak to them, you are going to get a lot of them,” Steel says. In Orange County, four Asian women are running as Republicans this year, three for the legislature, one for the country board of supervisors. This, by itself, changes the face of the GOP in a region with a soaring Asian electorate.

Third, Republicans are focused on grooming candidates capable of winning statewide. Today every California official elected statewide is a Democrat. But DeMaio, 39, and another House candidate, Navy veteran Jeff Gorell, 43, are potential statewide candidates. The new mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, won in a recent special election. Should he win reelection in a general election, his status as a statewide candidate will soar.

But it’s Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, 42, who has generated the highest hopes. Brulte, who generally plays down expectations, encouraged her to run for state controller. Now she’s regarded as the Republican with the best chance of winning a statewide election. She was elected mayor in 2008, then reelected in 2012 with
75 percent of the vote.

As controller, Swearengin would have the opportunity to get statewide recognition. The controller must certify the state budget is balanced. This could put her in a highly publicized fight with Gov. Brown. She would also have the authority to audit state government agencies.

“She’s a superstar,” one Republican says. If elected, she would instantly be touted as a candidate for governor in 2018, when Brown retires. Her election as controller, however, is hardly a cinch. As a Republican, she’s a slight underdog.

In their eagerness to court Asians, Republicans would be unwise to neglect Hispanics. Hewitt, the radio talk show host, says 10 years from now, every Republican running statewide had better speak Spanish. If they don’t, they’ll lose. That’s an experience they’re familiar with.

Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.

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