Last month the media threw a homecoming party for Nathan Fletcher after he announced that he was no longer a Republican. In the wake of the media celebration, some Republicans have wondered if this announcement will have lasting implications for the GOP. Is Fletcher’s announcement the beginning of a moderate uprising? Or is he just one candidate in a moderate district attempting to garner attention from the moderate-loving media? I believe it is the latter. And if that’s the case, what is in store for the future of the Republican Party?
Congress has an eighty percent disapproval rating according to a recent Politico poll. A recent field poll shows that eighty-five percent of Republicans in California disapprove of the job state legislators are doing in Sacramento. Maybe voters are sick of the same old, business-as-usual politics. Maybe they’re so sick of it, that they’ll decide to stop electing the business-as-usual, career politicians; maybe Republicans are ready to buck the status quo of recycled politicians and send in a new crop of young conservatives who haven’t accumulated a lifetime of political baggage.
What does the future California Republican climate look like? It might be bright, as evidenced by a couple of smart, young conservative candidates who have an interesting combination of experience and new energy, and claim to be up to the task of shaking up the status quo. In the final stretch of the primary season, there are two new candidates who have stood out, demonstrating this type of new appeal:
David DeFrank, 26, out of Fresno, is running against two former mayors to fill Linda Halderman’s seat in AD 23. DeFrank earned a BA, JD and MBA from UC Davis, worked as a professional writer, and was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization that registered thousands of anti-ObamaCare voters in California. DeFrank has garnered local and statewide attention and support, securing an endorsement from former Gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, out-fundraising many of his opponents and generating positive buzz following a number of local debates. DeFrank is the only candidate in his race to have signed the No New Taxes Pledge.
Ricky Gill, 25, out of Stockton is challenging Democrat Representative Jerry McNerny. The son of immigrants from India and Uganda, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and is working on his law degree from Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. Gill has built considerable momentum, fundraising $955,000 in 2011. He has also earned the endorsement of Jeb Bush.
Perhaps these sharp, determined political up-and-comers, who are just beginning their investment in the future are just what we need right now. I think it might even be possible that these men will bring some fresh energy and ideas that are sorely needed. Take for instance, DeFrank’s pledge to not take Legislative per diem. He says we need to cut spending and practice fiscal restraint. And, he’s willing to put his wallet where his mouth is. Sounds like the kind of leadership we could use in Sacramento – and in D.C.
Both of these two are in tight races and the open primary rules add an additional unknown as to the outcome of each. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more prove to be the next Devin Nunes (who was first elected to public office when he was 22), Bill Jones or Kevin McCarthy who also began at a young age.
We’ll know June 5 if voters agree that bright, new leadership is the future of our party. I hope that they do.