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David Salaverry

The Bench and the Wave

Coverage of the just-completed CRP convention has been predictable… and inadequate. Bored reporters seem to have found and filed the same-old-same-old stories, with a few welcome exceptions.

The Mercury News profiled our San Francisco Chair and CRP Vice Chair Harmeet Dhillon, quoting her:

“[it’s about] renewing “the enthusiasm of our grass-roots volunteers and supporters — and rebuilding “the nuts and bolts” in the wake of candidates “who parachute in to the top of the ticket” without being tested in smaller races.

Chair Jim Brulte was quoted at length, “… So we have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands,” while referencing significant wins like Falcouner in San Diego. Condolezza Rice was covered robustly. But then there was the usual “flake patrol.”

And then there’s Glenn Champ [for Governor]… whose website says he “represents a new breed of Christian soldier moving forward in the army of the lord, on the highway of righteousness, stomping on the devil’s head, with a new song of righteousness in our hearts.”

Photos in the Mercury News not-so-subtly mock our candidates. Neel Kashkari is photographed standing on a chair as if a levitating guru. A photo-shop mashup titled “Fight for the Right,” mocks Tea Party Donnelly vs Wall Street Kashkari as gladiatorial boxers facing off in the ring for Governor.

Sadly, there was a lot of digital ink devoted to “important races” that are fundamentally unimportant. Kashkari vs Donnelly is a striking example. Handicappers say neither Kashkari nor Donnelly has a chance, unless lighting strikes or Brown drops dead. And neither gubernatorial candidate represents the steady, solid rebuilding going on behind the scenes and that will soon bear fruit.

The real story is the bench and the wave, which the press ignores. The real story of the CRP convention is in the smaller rooms where things happen the press doesn’t see, even when they have a front row seat.

At the roll out of the new California Trailblazer candidates, real talent was on display. Each of the candidates had raised over $100,000 and met of a host of other important, nuts and bolts milestones. The quality of the training they’d gotten was evident in their on-stage, on-camera presentations. Each was articulate, focused and had a bio that reflected their voter base. With a Falcouner-Vidak type state-wide effort, the CRP is likely to win back ground in Sacramento.

Notwithstanding our “top of the ticket” gubernatorial candidates, former CRP Chair Ron Nehring has tossed his hat in the race for Lieutenant Governor and may well prove the real standard bearer. Nehring is an idea man who also has a deep and broad experience in ground level politics. His frontal attack on Newsom’s marijuana stance may seem outdated, but his arguments are sound, strong and will be convincing to the undecided on this issue. On economics, Nehring has expertise and gravitas.

Pete Peterson for Secretary of State is a comer. Peterson has a real passion for the job which he sees not as a retirement couch or a stepping stone but as a vital position in its own right. As California’s “Chief Engagement Officer,” Peterson plans to make a real difference.

Karen England and her troops are fighting hard to get their anti-transgender initiative on the ballot. Her faith-based troops are revved up and fighting hard to clear signatures they feel were illegally and corruptly discarded. Meanwhile, the Log Cabin Republicans, many my good friends, have cleared the last hurdles to get their LGBT Republican club fully certified by the CRP. Can the faithful and the Log Cabins coexist in a big tent party? Hell yes! Stay posted.

This year’s GrowElect meeting had to be put in a larger room, but still drew an overflow crowd. This time, two prominent congressmen David Valadao (R-Fresno) and Jeff Denham (R-Merced) shared the stage with Ignacio Velasquez Republican mayor of Hollister and Jack Guerrero, Republican Mayor of Cudahy. In the audience Q & A anti-”amnesty” types asked pointed questions that were fielded deftly. There may well be a move afoot in California to buck the Tea Party control of the immigration issue and move boldly out in front in support of comprehensive reform, critical to our ag-centered state with a burgeoning Latino voter base.

But the biggest and darkest secret of the convention could be the bigger congressional and state senate races. Although many have not yet fully emerged, there are stellar candidates in many districts.

Igor Birman is a comer in the race against Ami Bera. Birman is raising money aggressively and made a strong showing at the Liberty Caucus with the backing of his former boss, Tom McClintock. In Gary Miller’s district there are candidates with great bios.

Even in liberal Northern California, great candidates like Dr. Vanila Singh, a Stanford based Indian-American woman candidate may give the Honda vs Khanna Democrat battle a Republican twist while Peter Kuo, a Taiwanese immigrant businessman is getting strong support for his stance against SCA-5 which would reinstate UC quotas and lower admission of Asians.

Potentially the most game-changing candidate is Elan Carr, running for the Waxman seat. I had the pleasure of meeting Carr, a Deputy DA and gang prosecutor in LA who served in an Army JAG unit in the Iraq “Triangle of Death” prosecuting terrorists who killed Americans. Carr has a robust network and has raised a substantial war chest in record time. In a fractured Democratic primary with 11 candidates, he could win. He’s already got a strong team: a campaign manager, media guy, fundraiser and a scheduler. Our conversation at the convention was interrupted several times as he spoke in fluent Hebrew to his backers.

RNC Delegate Shawn Steel said to me privately, “In wave elections, the quality candidates come out.” We’re both wondering if the wave that seems to be shaping up nationally will this time flood over Sierras, lifting the boats of California Republicans on its powerful current.