Ray Haynes

Why the California Republican Party Needs Jim Brulte as Its Chair

I don’t know why Jim Brulte wants to be the California Republican Party Chair. It is a thankless job, and every voting member of the party thinks he or she is the smartest politician in the room. In my time in the Legislature, I spent a lot of time doing what I could for the party, because I believe that those involved in the party at that level get involved because of what they believe in, and they should be honored for their time and commitment. I engaged in a lot of internal political fights to advance the principles I believed in. I never cared about the “who” was in charge, I only cared about the “what” the principles of the party, and how they would be advanced by the party structure. I never asked for (and quite frankly never got) anything in return, but I can say that the things I did for the party did not help me politically, and many times actually hurt my political future. I don’t regret any of it, because I didn’t get involved in politics to “build” my future. I got involved because I truly believe that conservative values are what is right for the people of the state, and those values are only promoted through the Republican Party. A strong Republican Party is, in my opinion, good for the state of California, good for my community, and most importantly, absolutely critical for the future of my children. It is worth fighting for.

Which is why I believe Jim Brulte needs to be the California Republican Party Chair. He is, in my opinion, unquestionably the smartest political mind the Republicans have in this state. As a tactician, he is without peer in Republican circles. There is a reason why, when he was Assembly Republican Leader, we achieved the only Legislative majority we have had in the last 40 years. There is a reason why, when he was Senate Republican leader in 2001 after the Democrat gerrymander, we picked up seats when we should have lost. He has been consistently successful in advancing the political cause of the Republicans in California. Whenever he was in charge of elections, we did well. When he was not, we did not fare as well.

I know from personal experience that he is a principled and committed conservative. The difference between he and I is, he knows when to fight a battle. We don’t have unlimited resources, so choosing the right political fights is important. Once he has chosen a fight, though, he usually wins it. I, on the other hand, will fight a political fight because I believe in the cause, whether I think I can win it or not. I will sometimes waste political resources on a fight that cannot be won, in the hopes it will advance our agenda. Brulte will marshal the resources, win the fight, and then advance the agenda as best he can. I am not sure, in retrospect, that the fights I chose should have been fought. I can say for certain that the fights Brulte fought actually benefited the party, and the agenda I believe in. I can say for certain that, when he looked at the Legislators in his caucus and said, let’s fight this battle, I would stand shoulder to shoulder with him with pride and honor, know that it was the right battle to fight.

Brulte has made enemies in the party along the way, to be sure. He is not shy about his opinions, and will step on toes if he thinks he is right, or what he is doing is right for the party. Those who disagree with him, though, cannot disagree on principle (though they may try). I know Jim Brulte’s heart is with the conservative movement. They can only disagree with his tactics or his personality. The problem, however, is that too often in our party, tactical or personal disagreements, or disagreements over who gets what power in the party, are characterized as disagreements over principle, simply because those who fighting have gotten their ego involved in the fight.

The California Republican Party, however, can no longer afford the kind of ego driven power battles that have characterized its operations over the last 12 years. We need to restore the confidence of the voters, the donors, and the activists in the party and its operations. I personally think the person for that job is Brulte. I can only hope a majority of the party regulars agree with me.