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California's new GOP Leadership looks to energize 2020 elections

Diverse slate of leaders gives party new message
Posted at 12:12 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-28 15:12:42-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - A new group of leaders has the California GOP ready to take on the 2020 elections and rebound from a disastrous 2018 cycle.

Over the weekend, the GOP elected Jessica Patterson as their state-wide Chair. She's the first woman and first Latina to ever hold the top spot in the state party.

They also elected a Taiwanese immigrant, Peter Kuo, as Vice-Chair. And the new Treasurer, Greg Gandrud, is openly gay.

Analysts say that gives them a more diverse group of leaders that can reach out to more voters across the state.

But newly elected Secretary Randy Berholtz, who lives in San Diego, says their election within the party had nothing to do with demographics.

"I think what the delegates did is pick the best person for each of the positions," Berholtz says. "It just so happens that the people were of different ethnicities and sexes and ages and everything else."

Berholtz says he saw an energized party at the convention, ready to bounce back from 2018.

In that election, Republicans lost 7 seats in the US House of Representatives. Loses in local legislative races also gave democrats a super-majority in the California House and Senate. Republicans only hold 19 or 80 seats in the House and 11 of 40 seats in the Senate.

The election also continued a streak of no Republicans winning statewide office since 2006.

Berholtz says a strong Republican party is a good thing for the state.

"California needs to have a good second party," he says. "If not, nobody's watching the party in power. And we want to tell the voters that we're watching."

In the last election, Republicans only made up 24% of the registered voters. That put them behind Democrats and people who registered as "No Preference."

Political analyst John Dadian says it could take as long as 10 years for the GOP to turn that around.

"The main strategy has to be to bring some of those, 'prefer not to state' voters back," says Dadian. "It's all in the messaging, because California isn't just a blue state, it's a deep-blue state."

Berholtz says his party will use a focus on family, personal initiative and good government to turn the tide. He also says they'll look to a more grass roots campaign to try and elect leaders from the bottom-up.

"We're energized right now," he says. "We're all going out and speaking, finding great candidates, doing voter registration, improving our message and just telling people in California that there is a viable alternative and we have not given up on you."