An all-star team of California Republican leaders today announced the creation of a new organization that will be devoted to recruiting future candidates for statewide office. The group hopes to prove, as former Gov. Pete Wilson said on a conference call to reporters, that California "is not hopelessly blue."
The GOP record at winning statewide offices has been abysmal since Wilson won his re-election in 1994. As businessman Paul Folino, one of the top financial contributors to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, noted, Republicans have won only 20 percent of statewide races since 1998.
The current scorecard: The GOP holds two statewide offices (Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner) and the Democrats hold six statewide offices and both U.S. Senate seats.
The executive director of the new organzation, called Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow, is former state GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim. On the conference call, Sundheim noted that in the recent past Republicans have either fielded "good candidates" who did not have the financial resources to win and "in other instances, we didn't field a candidate with a chance of winning... The California Republican Party cannot be successful unless we change this dynamic."
The goal will be develop a "farm team" of potential candidates well ahead of a given election cycle and provide them with policy training, advice and financial support. Wilson said the group will seek candidates who are "attractive and articulate." Sundheim said that in seeking out candidates, "the standards will be quality and electability, not ideology."