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California Republican chairman lays out game plan for 2012

January 25, 2012 |  3:05 pm

Voters in Venice in 2010
California Republican Party chairman Thomas Del Beccaro knows he won’t find many votes for right-leaning candidates in the Bay Area or Los Angeles. But he’s hoping his party can rally support for conservative ballot initiatives, giving Republicans a stronger voice in California politics.

Del Beccaro said Republicans' policy proposals resonate with individual voters statewide, even if the party lacks enough clout in Sacramento to block Democrats' legislation or spending plans.

Voters "agree with us on the tax issue. They agree with us on budget reform. They agree with us on law-and-order issues. They agree with us on local control for education,” he said. “We should be promoting these ideas not just as parties, but as candidates throughout the state so we can do better.”

By pushing ballot initiatives on these issues, voters may take a second look at Republican candidates, said Del Beccaro, who has been the state party chairman since March 2010.

“We’re not going to do anything less for legislative races,” he said. “But we need to add in this focus on initiatives, which will help us in legislative races.”

One initiative, which is being pushed by anti-tax groups, would cap government spending. Another seeks to prevent unions from collecting dues directly from paychecks if they’re using the money for political purposes. It also would curb donations from corporations and unions to candidates.

Gale Kauffman, a Democratic strategist opposing the initiative, said the goal is to "eliminate unions from the political arena in California" by making it harder for them to collect money while having "virtually no impact on corporate spending in campaigns at all."

Besides pushing conservative initiatives, Republicans are gearing up for a battle against Gov. Jerry Brown’s push for tax hikes. The governor wants voters to approve temporary increases in the sales tax and levies on the state’s wealthiest.

A poll released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California said 68% of likely voters and 53% of Republicans like Brown’s plan. But the same poll said 64% of likely voters and 74% of Republicans are opposed to raising the sales tax.

Del Beccaro said it’s wrong for Brown to push for big-dollar projects such as high-speed rail at the same time he’s asking for more taxes to fund schools.

“If we can’t afford the house we have, we shouldn’t be making any additions,” he said.

Gil Duran, a spokesman for the governor, called the comparison inaccurate.

“High-speed rail funding comes from bond money approved by voters in 2008 and these funds cannot be used for any other purpose,” he said. “It is dishonest to suggest these funds could be used for education.”


Democrats propose measures to rein in California initiative process

Jerry Brown's tax initiative has broad support, poll finds

Brown pushes tax measure in GOP strongholds

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian

Photo: Voters cast ballots in Venice in November 2010.

Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Jack Idema