Behind the scenes, Republican supporters of Arizona Sen. John McCain are grumbling about what they say was state GOP Chairman Ron Nehring’s glaring failure tonight to publicly congratulate the apparent GOP winner in California. (SEE UPDATE BELOW WITH NEHRING’S STATEMENT ON McCAIN’S APPARENT WIN.)
Starting about 9:30p.m., media outlets projected McCain would take California but Nehring remained silent.
Nehring, reached by phone a few minutes ago from San Diego, where the state party held its Election Night party, called it a non-issue and said he never planned to call the election himself or give a speech from the podium.
“We will absolutely unify behind the party’s nominee,” Nehring said.
The electorate appears unified behind McCain.
He was winning in every California Congressional district, even the most conservative districts in Orange County and in Central California. If the votes hold up, he will claim all the state’s Republican delegates. The party allocates three delegates for each of the state’s 53 Congressional districts.
But McCain is not the choice of the party’s most conservative voices and prominent state party leaders, including many who have spared no opportunity to criticize McCain’s stance on hot-button issues such as immigration reform.
They can’t be happy with this outcome.
McCain also received the endorsement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, another moderate Republican who angers conservative members of the party.
Moderate Republicans have long said that the party’s platform is too far to the right of mainstream California Republican voters, and tonight’s outcome supports their theory.
12:30 A.M. UPDATE: Nehring sent out a statement at 12:09 a.m. congratulating McCain. Here’s what he said:
California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring today issued the following statement congratulating Senator John McCain in the California Republican Presidential Primary today.
“Congratulations to Senator McCain for his victory across California today.
“Based on the results reported by the Secretary of State, Senator McCain has triumphed in every part of California, from the Oregon border to San Diego.
“California Republicans know how to win in our state, as Governor Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner demonstrated in 2006.
“While the contest for the Republican presidential nomination appears it may continue, we’re confident the issues of this campaign – the economy and keeping America on offense in Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism – will be those where Republicans have demonstrated consistent strength.”