Houston will run for California GOP chair

Guy Houston

Guy Houston

Tom Del Beccaro

Tom Del Beccaro

In a political move with an East Bay twist, former Assemblyman Guy Houston, of San Ramon, will run for chairman of the California Republican Party against state vice chairman Tom Del Beccaro, of Lafayette, according to Jon Fleischman at the Flash Report.

Fleischman dismisses Houston as a viable candidate, in part, because the former assemblyman supported the voter approved open primary initiative. (Both major political parties are fighting the measure in court, which passed in June.)

And Fleischman accurately notes that Del Beccaro has been running for this seat for three years  (running for the top job is the primary job of the second in command) and has a significant  advantage among 1,400 or so party activists who vote in GOP leadership elections.

I know, I know, normal people don’t know or care about the internal workings of political parties.

But this could be very interesting.

Del Beccaro is a controversial figure in the party. People love him or hate him but few are ambivalent. Rumors and tongue-wagging follow wherever Del Beccaro goes. His unabashed, self-promotional style irritates people. But his fans are exceptionally loyal and they regard Del Beccaro’s gregarious personality and flair for public speaking as an asset to the party.

The vice chairman’s critics have apparently been searching for some months for a viable challenger with a more moderate outlook. Houston reportedly began quietly seeking support of party leaders in recent weeks.

But Houston has plenty of baggage, too.

He was targeted in a nasty civil lawsuit in which investors in his family’s mortgage and investment business alleged they were bilked out of their money. Houston denied any wrongdoing and the case was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Termed out in 2008 and with no prospects of success as a Republican nominee in his heavily Democratic Senate district, Houston did what many termed-out legislators do — he turned to a local option.

No open seat awaited him, though, and he generated considerable ill will when he opted to run against incumbent Republican Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. Not only had Piepho worked for Houston, but he had encouraged her to run for her first term in 2004.

To add salt to the wound, Houston later accepted the endorsement of Piepho’s brother, John T. Nejedly, who was suing his siblings in a bitter family dispute related to the estate of the late Sen. John A. Nejedly.

Piepho handed Houston his first electoral defeat and he moved into private life, where founded a consulting firm, the Dublin-based California Gold Advocacy Group.

It’s no secret that Houston and Del Beccaro are not buddies although the origins of their discord are unclear. The two reportedly clashed during past campaigns, when Del Beccaro was chairman of the Contra Costa Republican Party.

But none of that will matter much in the days ahead. For Houston to prevail, he will need to persuade party leaders to abandon their support of Del Beccaro, who had been the presumptive winner.

That’s  a tall order for a former legislator who has largely absent from the political party scene.

On the other hand, internal party politics can be a volatile scene. The campaigns are run mostly behind the scenes and without the financial disclosure required of public campaigns.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Arne Simonsen

    While Tom can engender that “love him or hate him” theme, no one can doubt how much time and devotion Tom has given to the CRP and the CCRP over the past 10 years. As such, Tom has my support.

  • We absolutely cannot have, as our Chairman, a man like Guy, who has never been much of a team player, and, who has no discernable political management experience. That he supported Prop 14, the horrible law passed in the primary which will further erode the chance for everyone outside of the Los Angeles County Leftist Cabal to have an effect on Sacramento, only makes it worse.
    I have worked for Guy in the past. He did an adequate job as Assemblyman, although he did not leave his District in our hands.
    I have also worked with Tom del Beccaro over the last several years, and admire all he has accomplished for us through difficult times. We are lucky to have him to lead us into the future, which looks good in 2010 and 2012. There are people who do not like him personally. That often is the case with strong leaders. Nevertheless, you can’t make a back bencher like Guy into a leader like Tom.
    This would be silly, if it were not so serious.

  • Wendy Lack

    Del Beccaro “an asset to the party”? Puh-leeze.

    @Arne: It’s not effort or “time and devotion” that counts, it’s results . . . and no one can say (with a straight face, that is)that Del Beccaro has had a positive impact on either the CCRP or CRP.

    Glad to see someone with maturity and experience in elected office enter this race. Guy Houston will bring much-needed credibility and professionalism to the CRP.

    Del Beccaro is lacking the leadership, skills and E.Q. necessary to succeed in this critical role. (Fleischman is just one of Del Beccaro’s lackeys and carries zero credibility on this score, thus his post is easily dismissed.)

    What does count is that Guy is viewed positively by an overwhelming number of party officials, especially the electeds.

    You can predict that presumptive Del Beccaro “supporters” will quietly slip away into Guy’s support column — now that they’re given a choice, and a head-and-shoulders superior alternative, at that!

    Go, Guy, Go!

  • John W

    “…normal people don’t care…” Roger that! Let’s hope open primary will make us care even less.

  • John den Dulk

    I have worked for Guy Houston and with Tom del Beccaro over the last few years. Guy is a legislator not a leader and Tom is a powerful force for our party, it is just that simple. I am surprised that the people who do not like Tom precisely because of his strength in many cases, could not find someone stronger than Guy to put up against him. That he supported Prop 14 only makes his shot that much longer.

  • Darcy Linn

    It is too bad that another inter party fight has been started, especially since it comes at a time when the GOP has so much to gain. Tom has been working tirelessly for Republican candidates and causes and in so doing has earned the support of countless grassroots volunteers, activists, and party leaders. One of Tom’s supporters sent out an email today in which he writes about the CRP Chairman’s race: “I have also worked with Tom del Beccaro over the last several years, and admire all he has accomplished for us through difficult times. We are lucky to have him to lead us into the future, which looks good in 2010 and 2012”. Enough said.

  • Bob Ward

    I visited the website of Guy Houston’s current business and it looks like nothing more than a lobbying outfit of his own creation. That is the last refuge of a “career politician” — “I don’t produce anything at the end of the day, but I do have ‘connections’!” Doesn’t this man have any useful skill beyond influence peddling? If all else fails, I guess he can go into his father’s line of work. That could create some more work for the District Attorney’s office and the California corrections system in the future.

  • John W

    Re: #7

    You know you’ve fallen from grace when a member of your own party is governor and you can’t even get on a state board paying six figures to attend monthly meetings on subjects about which you know naught.

  • Bob Ward

    Re: #8

    I agree with you. The California Integrated Waste Management Board was a prime example until its recent elimination. How ex-Sen. Carole Migden and other otherwise unemployed politicians were qualified to pass judgment on garbage policy baffles me. I guess that Guy Houston simply has no transferable skills that appeal to the Schwarzenegger administration. He’s moved at least twice in the past decade to advance his political career (from Dublin as mayor, next to Livermore to seek an Assembly seat, then to the San Ramon area to run unsuccessfully for Contra Costa County supervisor). Maybe he’ll move to the Central Valley next. And don’t be surprised if there is a dead-end “Guy Houston for Governor” campaign in Nevada a few years from now!

  • RF

    I guess Guy finally found something else to run for after getting his rear handed to him by Mary Piepho.

  • Laughing

    Tom is a self-important tyrant. Guy Houston is running because people are tired of the soap opera that is Tom Del Beccaro. I’d like to know, what are all these great accomplishments Tom has to his credit that make him worthy of our respect and admiration?


    He works really hard running around the state promoting Tom. Guy Houston for California Republican Party Chair!

  • Arne Simonsen

    #3 Wendy wrote: “What does count is that Guy is viewed positively by an overwhelming number of party officials, especially the electeds.”

    Oh Wendy, you are so wrong!

    Elected officials and CCRP/CRP members are mad at Guy when he ran against incumbent Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Peipho! Guy lost all credibility when he did that – and he lost!

    Guy never participated in CCRP meetings. He only came when he wanted something!

  • Darcy Linn

    Gosh, Laughing, yours is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Guy.

    Methinks your true motives are showing!

    Isn’t time you and your gang put aside your petty personal agendas and do something constructive for the GOP?

  • Benito

    The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation and have continue to blame us for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown.