GOP can't win without Latinos
Give the California Republican Party credit. With its share of registered voters down to barely 30 percent, the GOP realizes what it must do to become competitive again in this state: Recruit Latinos.
Republicans are not deaf and dumb. They realize Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group here; they know Hispanics make up close to 36 percent of the state's legal population and roughly 18 percent of actual voters.
So they know they have to do better than the 20-something percent of votes their candidates have drawn from Latinos of late.
But reaching out to Latinos will require more than the lip service California Republicans have given Hispanic voters.
The question: How can the GOP hope to attract Latino voters if its positions consistently conflict with what every poll shows Latinos want?
The answer: It can't and won't.
Here's what state party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro told reporters: "We have been preaching to the converted too long," he said. "We have not been speaking to the majority of California voters for too long."
Even the California GOP's top dog knows it has been out of touch for decades and voters have deserted the party in droves.
The GOP can complain about gerrymandering and new district lines until it's blue in the face, but it won't be competitive until it speaks to the interests of Latino voters.
Del Beccaro's remarks came at the same state convention where conservative party delegates refused to budge a bit from the state GOP's extreme right-wing platform. The same convention where the party's presidential straw vote showed the longtime fringe, libertarian-leaning candidate Ron Paul has twice the support among GOP activists of any other Republican presidential contender.
So the party stuck with its message of no new taxes, no matter what state services are cut, including public schools and universities, police and fire services, health care for the indigent and adult day health-care.
Has it occurred to anyone in the GOP that the plurality of California school kids is Latino, that a large portion of adults in day health-care have been Hispanics and that Latino areas tend to have higher-than-average crime rates? Do these folks realize cutting those services slaps Latinos in the face?
The party also stuck with its hard-line stance against any benefits for illegal immigrants, even children brought here by their parents at an early age when they had no say about it.
And the party needs to recruit more credible Latino candidates if it's to be competitive. More candidates in the mold of former state Sen. Abel Maldonado, who served briefly as an appointed lieutenant governor under Schwarzenegger.
It is no accident that Maldonado, running for Congress against Santa Barbara County Democrat Lois Capps, is one of the few Republicans with any chance of knocking off an incumbent Democrat next year.
He's a moderate in a party of hard-liners and a Latino in a newly-drawn district with plenty of them.
The Maldonado mold would be a healthy one for other Republicans to follow, but they show no signs of doing so.