When major stories gain nationwide recognition and scrutiny from Republicans about California’s policy decisions, the state’s Republican Party is faced with the choice to continue to reach across the aisle or to take a more partisan approach.
Twenty years ago, registered voters in California had a much more even balance between Republican and Democrat, with 35% of voters registered Republican and 45% of voters registered Democrat. Today, Democrats now hold 46.8% of voter registration while Republicans have decreased in number to 23.9%. Though there are much more independent/decline to state/no party preference voters today (22.7%) compared to twenty years ago (14.8%), there is clearly less of a Republican presence in the state legislature.
During the state’s recent heat wave, Governor Newsom and state legislators instructed Californians to reduce their energy consumption and set their thermostats to 78 degrees or above. This was notable to Republicans across the country due to California’s ambitious goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions within the next few decades, yet during the heatwave, renewable energy sources couldn’t supply enough energy.
“Nice reminder from liberals not to entrust them with our energy policies, or you can end up like California,” said Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (R-NM).
Other nationally recognized conservative voices like author Victor Davis Hanson wrote in the Washington Times that “Mr. Newsom’s California is arguably the most unfree state in the union” because of “the state’s public institutions, infrastructure and services.”
With the large volume of negative press from out-of-state Republicans, the future of California’s Republican Party could be at risk of being viewed as a lost cause if conservative lawmakers remain flexible on political stances.
California’s Republican Party appears to be facing an identity crisis where West Coast conservatism is more lenient than the Trump-era conservatism which won in the 2016 Presidential Election.
After Gov. Newsom survived last year’s recall attempt, analysis demonstrated that Republican opponent Larry Elder’s hyper-conservatism did not resonate with the state’s constituents.
This November, Gov. Newsom faces a new challenger, Republican State Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber). Gov. Newsom recently agreed to a debate against Sen. Dahle after Sen. Dahle publicized a tweet about wanting to debate Gov. Newsom.
“I’ll accommodate Newsom: He can be in an A/C building w/ his sweater. We don’t have to debate flex alerts, gas prices, ZEVs, French Laundry, shutting schools down, crime, & all things pertaining to CA. He can dial [Ron DeSantis] for help since he’s fighting with Biden,” the tweet read with a video attached in which the senator said he would debate Newsom at any time and any place.
Though some conservatives in California prefer stronger GOP messaging, Sen. Dahle has vowed to cooperate with Democrats if elected in November, particularly on environmental issues which he sees as “unique opportunities for collaboration.”
Would a governor like Sen. Dahle change the nationwide perceptions of California or would the status quo remain the same?