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Ron Nehring to address ALEC summit meeting

Ron Nehring, the former California Republican Party Chairman and 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will address the opening session of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States and Nation Policy Summit on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Ron NehringALEC’s website says it “works to advance limited government, free markets and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”

It’s basically a forum through which conservative state lawmakers and the private sector collaborate on legislation that’s then pushed in multiple states, from business bills favoring lower taxes, privatization, and relaxed regulation to things such as stand-your-ground self-defense laws and voter ID requirements. Funded mostly by major corporations and conservative benefactors including the Koch brothers, it has become a target for liberal activists.

The summit is the group’s annual, national post-election meeting focusing on the legislative agenda for 2015; ALEC’s next national meeting will take place in San Diego, California this summer.

Nehring’s news release said his opening remarks Wednesday will review election results across the country, and recommendations for 2016 including “the critical importance of growing support for candidates supporting limited government and free markets in America’s immigrant, suburban and urban communities; building coalitions; and recognizing the role of candidates’ personal narratives in addition to their philosophy.”

Nehring lost this year’s race to incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent.

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Musings on the state GOP, Congress, pot & Kansas

A few observations on Tuesday’s elections, with a hat tip to my colleagues Paul Rogers and Ken McLaughlin for their thoughts:

CALIFORNIA GOP: Tuesday’s results seem to be a vindication and victory for the “Brulte Doctrine,” spelled out by the state GOP chairman at his party’s convention in March: Don’t waste much effort trying to win unwinnable statewide races, but instead rebuild the party by “grinding it out on the ground” in local races – a strategy that will take several election cycles to bear larger fruit.

Despite their buzz, Ashley Swearengin and Pete Peterson couldn’t make it happen statewide: as it stands now, it looks like a 5.6-point loss for Swearengin in the controller’s race and a 5-point loss for Peterson in the secretary of state’s race. Those are respectable losses but losses nonetheless, and I submit that the GOP putting more money and party resources behind them might actually have resulted in wider margins of loss – I think they did this well in part by distancing themselves from partisanship.

Instead, Brulte’s GOP concentrated on denying Democrats their legislative supermajorities – and now it’s “mission accomplished” in the state Senate while the Assembly still hangs by a thread as vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

In doing so, the GOP is hatching a new generation of up-and-comers. Exhibit A: Catharine Baker, who at this hour is up 3.8 points over Democrat Tim Sbranti in the East Bay’s 16th Assembly District race. Baker, an attorney hailed as a cream-of-the-crop “California Trailblazer” at her party’s convention in March, was far outspent by Sbranti, who already had some name recognition among the electorate as Dublin’s mayor. But GOP officials and activists came from around the state to pound the pavement for her, and it looks like it could pay off with the first Bay Area Republican sent to Sacramento since Guy Houston was term-limited out (in the same part of the East Bay) in 2008.

CONGRESS: Anyone who’s surprised that Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate and gained seats in the House isn’t very well-versed in history. A two-term president’s party almost always loses ground in his sixth-year midterm.

Sure, President Barack Obama’s job-approval rating stood at 42 percent (per Gallup) on Tuesday. And President George W. Bush’s job approval was at 38 percent in November 2006 as Democrats picked up five Senate seats and 31 House seats, making Harry Reid the new Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi the new House Speaker. And President Ronald Reagan was riding high with a 63 percent job-approval rating in November 1986 (although he was about to take a precipitous dive as details of the Iran-Contra scandal came to light) as Democrats picked up eight Senate seats, putting Robert Byrd in the driver’s seat, and five House seats to cement the majority they already had.

The exception was President Bill Clinton, who saw his party pick up five House seats in 1998 – a stinging defeat that left Republicans in control but forced Newt Gingrich to resign as Speaker – while the Senate was a zero-sum game. Clinton, under fire for the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, still was at a 66 percent job-approval rating at the time.

But Bubba always had a way of defying the odds.

MARIJUANA: If Oregon and Alaska got enough younger voters out to the polls in this midterm election to approve marijuana legalization, just imagine what California can do in 2016’s presidential election with an initiative forged in the trial-and-error of four other states’ experiences.

KANSAS: Kansas has had private-sector job growth that lags the rest of the country, and adopted tax cuts big enough to blow a still-widening hole in the state budget requiring school closings, teacher layoffs and increased class sizes – but doubled down with its Republican governor and Republican U.S. Senator. I guess you can lead a Jayhawk to water, but you can’t make it drink…

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GOP steps it up for convention, Sec’y of State race

California Republicans are trying to build some momentum headed into November’s elections, scheduling the state’s most powerful Republican as a convention keynote and putting a former state chairman in charge of fundraising for one of their statewide candidates.

Kevin McCarthyRep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who takes over later this week as House Majority Leader, will speak at the state GOP’s 2014 Fall Convention on Saturday, Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

“Majority Leader Elect McCarthy personally understands the importance of California in protecting the Congressional majority,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “He is an innovative thinker whose policies are making life better for Americans each day, and he fights for California each and every day.”

Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said McCarthy “supports policies that encourage job growth by freeing the private sector to do its job. Those policies are exactly what we need here in California, and I am excited that our delegates will get to hear this message from him.”

The party in May announced U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kent., will speak at the convention as well.

Meanwhile, Pete Peterson – the Republican candidate for secretary of state – announced today that former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills will serve as his campaign’s finance chairman.

Pete Peterson“Whether you have known Pete Peterson for years as I have, or you have recently met him, as the San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board has, you reach the same conclusion: Pete Peterson is the superior candidate for Secretary of State,” Sundheim said in a news release. “Peterson has the fresh ideas and experience to make a real difference.”

Peterson said he shares Sundheim’s “focus on government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. With rampant corruption in Sacramento, one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, and businesses fleeing the state, it’s clear that we need to change the way things are being done.”

Sundheim will need to shake the money trees vigorously. Peterson’s campaign had only about $12,000 cash on hand as of mid-May, and has reported raising only about $25,000 in major donations since then. His opponent, state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, had about $340,000 banked for the campaign as of mid-May, and has reported raising about $40,000 in major donations since.

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Cleveland Rocks (the RNC’s world)

Look out, Cleveland, the storm is comin’ through/ And it’s runnin’ right up on you…

The Republican National Committee’s Site Selection Committee on Tuesday named Cleveland as its recommendation to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. The RNC and the city now enter into exclusive negotiations on the details, and the recommendation will be presented to the full 168-member RNC when it meets next month in Chicago.

“Cleveland is a phenomenal city, and I can’t think of a better place to showcase our party and our nominee in 2016,” Site Selection Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen said in a news release. “Cleveland has demonstrated they have the commitment, energy, and terrific facilities to help us deliver a history-making Republican convention.

The committee previously had narrowed the field to Cleveland and Dallas, but Ohio’s battleground-state status probably helped Cleveland carry the day.

The Band’s “Look Out Cleveland” (quoted above) is a bit of a downer lyrically, so one assumes the RNC will also open negotiations with Ian Hunter for the rights to use his song over… and over… and over again…

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Mark Meuser launches Bay Area Republican PAC

What’s Mark Meuser up to?

Mark MeuserMeuser, you’ll recall, is the Walnut Creek civil litigation attorney who ran against state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, in 2012 (a race DeSaulnier won, 61.5 percent to 38.5 percent). More recently, he’s been donning Minuteman garb to deliver speeches on the nation’s Founding Fathers at meetings of local Republican groups.

Reports filed Friday with the Secretary of State’s office show Meuser, 39, this year created the Bay Area Republican Political Action Committee, which he funded with $10,500 of his own money. Most of that money already has been spent, including $7,000 on television ad production and $2,500 for print ads in the Antioch Herald. He also registered a BARepublican.com website, though it’s not active yet.

But Meuser is being a bit cryptic about what it’s all for.

“The PAC has not spent any money on behalf of any candidate,” he said in an email conversation Monday. “The PAC is preparing for this November’s election and the money it spent was in preparation for that.”

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What Eric Cantor’s loss might mean to you

Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican who was defeated in a primary election Tuesday by tea-party challenger Dave Brat, will step down as House Majority Leader.

Cantor’s upset defeat has repercussions far beyond Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, and even far beyond the Beltway. When the second-most-powerful Republican in Congress is taken down by a challenge from within his own party, the political and policy implications are sure to be significant. Here are a few:

1.) Immigration reform

Cantor’s loss probably means any shred of chance for comprehensive immigration reform in the foreseeable future is now gone.

One of Brat’s biggest criticisms of Cantor was that Cantor favored “amnesty” by supporting some sort of path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. Actually, Politico is reporting that a poll found most of the voters in that district – including most Republicans – favor a plan that would include letting undocumented immigrants without criminal records gain legal status.

Nonetheless, I think the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is right when he says Cantor’s defeat will make any House Republican who’d been considering supporting some similar reform think again.

Meanwhile, immigration reform activists say Cantor’s loss is the nail in the coffin, and so are urging President Obama to offer deportation relief and other forms of administrative relief immediately.

2.) California’s clout

Cantor was the GOP’s number two in the House; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, is number three. But Cantor’s loss doesn’t necessarily mean McCarthy’s ascension – a bunch of House Republicans already are jockeying to snap up Cantor’s post.

As both a Californian and a national GOP leader, McCarthy has had to walk a knife-edge on immigration reform; he has called for legal status, though perhaps not citizenship, for undocumented immigrants without criminal records. If Cantor’s loss makes House Republicans gun-shy about speaking up on immigration reform, McCarthy – along with other California Republicans like Jeff Denham and David Valadao – may be in the majority’s minority, and that’s not a great place to be when you’re gunning for a higher party leadership post.

More, after the jump…
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