California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring has called a Tuesday morning teleconference meeting of the party’s board of directors to consider whether to endorse one of the six Republicans running in the 10th Congressional District special primary election.
The board has invited the candidates to participate in an interview process, as the party’s bylaws require, and it takes a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors to secure the party’s nod.
The GOP, for example, recently endorsed Teresa Martinez, one of several unsuccessful Republican candidates in the District 32 special election to replace Hilda Solis of Los Angeles, who now serves as the U.S. Labor Secretary under President Barack Obama. (Democrat Judy Chu was elected to the seat earlier this month.)
Primary endorsements raises hackles among some Republicans, who consider the practice antithetical to the democratic process. Critics within the Contra Costa Republican Party are already upset over several incidents they say demonstrate illegal favorable treatment of District 10 candidate David Harmer of San Ramon. (Some members of the committee have filed a complaint with the Secretary of State and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office alleging this and other violations.)
This is an issue where democratic ideals smack up against reality.
Parties endorse in special primaries as a strategy designed to help elevate a viable candidate from among a field that often contains a mix of well-meaning but utterly unprepared people who have little chance of winning against a well-funded opponent in the general election. Special primaries are blanket primaries, where all candidates of all party affilitions appear on the same ballot. Any single candidate could win the election outright in the primary with a majority vote. (Clarification in underlined text added Monday morning. LAV)
At this point, less than four weeks before the Sept. 1 election, Harmer is the only GOP candidate who has raised money. As such, he is realistically the one candidate with a chance of competing against what will be a very well funded Democratic opponent in a district where Democrats have an 18 percentage point registration advantage.
On the other hand, the party risks alienating members who favor other candidates and may feel excluded from the process. They may not feel too warm and fuzzy about volunteering or donating money in the general election.
Party involvement through an endorsement carries even more significance in a special election, where all the candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of party designation and a candidate who receives a majority vote in the primary can win the seat outright.
Political strategists have said for months that the only chance the GOP has of victory in District 10 was to rally around a single, well-known and popular candidate. Local Republicans had hoped Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf would run but he declined, leaving the party with six unknown political novices.
Read more for the full list of the Republican candidates and their Web sites.
Chris Bunch of Fairfield
Web site: http://www.bunch4congress.com
Gary Clift of Vacaville
Retired peace officer and manager for the California Department of Corrections
Web site: http://www.cliftforcongress.com/
David Harmer of Dougherty Valley
Former vice president and in-house counsel, Washington Mutual Bank
Web site: http://www.harmerforcongress.com/
Mark Loos of Livermore
Owner, PC Solutions
Web site: http://www.loosforchange.com/
David Peterson of Walnut Creek
Accountability system owner
Web site: http://www.davidpetersonforcongress.com
John Toth of Pleasant Hill
Web site: (scheduled to go live by Sunday) http://www.johntothforcongress.com/