CRP Blog

Monday, November 5, 2007

Republicans Assert Themselves in Local Elections

The Ventura County Star ran an interesting story this weekend concerning the Republican Party actively supporting Republicans in local government elections ("Both parties seek to control politics in nonpartisan races"). Here are some interesting clips from a rather lengthy story:

New CRP Rules on Local Elections

Both Republicans and Democrats are pushing for more control over school boards, city councils, and other local races that are officially classified as nonpartisan. It's a top priority for leaders of both parties at the county and the state level.

"I promise you, that's the model of both parties, that there is no such thing as a nonpartisan race," said Leslie Cornejo, a former chairwoman of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee and a co-founder of a new group called the California Association of Political Centrists.

Newly elected state Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring, who used the strategy successfully in his home San Diego County, successfully pushed for rule changes earlier this year to make it easier for the state party to devote resources to Republicans running for local office.

In a recent essay describing his efforts, Nehring wrote the state party is "identifying every local government official in California and their party. Our best opportunities for expanding our reach, and diversifying our party, come in local government."

New Law Protects Member Communications

Lawmakers from both parties overwhelmingly supported a bill this year, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month, that will expand the role of political parties in nonpartisan local races.

The new state law prevents local ordinances from limiting the amount donors can give to political parties. The money can then be spent on behalf of the party's favored candidates.

(Sidenote: The reporting is not entirely clear on this point. The new law, AB 1430, protects political parties' ability to communicate unrestricted with their members without interference from local bureaucrats).

Democrats are Late to the Party

In last fall's election, the county Republican Central Committee spent close to $40,000 on mailers sent to party members to support party candidates, compared to just over $1,500 by the Democratic Central Committee. Most of that was spent in local nonpartisan elections.

Those mailers are known as "member communications," and they're exempt from the spending limits that often apply to ads distributed to the general public.

Democrats are late to the party, but they'll be sending member communications in next year's elections, said county Democratic Central Committee Chairman Bill Gallaher.

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