Despite the efforts of a couple of Republican-activist bloggers, elected GOP officials say they don't expect a movement to bar decline-to-state voters from participating in California Republican primaries to go very far when it comes up at this month's state GOP convention.
Sen. Tony Strickland told me last week he is strongly opposed to the idea and intends to be at the convention (he never misses one), where he will work to defeat the proposed policy change. He notes a mathematical fact of life: Since registered Republicans make up only 31 percent of state voters, and Democrats only 45 percent, no major party candidate can command a majority in a general election without the support of independents.
Strickland said that, although relatively few decline-to-state voters participate in primaries, it is important that candidates be able to start reaching out to them early. As early as 2007 -- long before last year's razor-thin victory in the Senate campaign -- Strickland begin sending mailers to independent voters in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, introducing himself to them on his terms.
That sort of logic is unpersuasive to some true-blue conservatives such as Simi Valley blogger Steve Frank. Here's some of what he recently wrote: "Would Wal-Mart allow a Sears official to make policy decisions? Does Ford ask GM to decide what models to produce?... Political parties are voluntary associations. If you do not volunteer, why do you get the benefit? ... This is an issue about principle."
Democrats in Sacramento would like nothing better than for a majority of GOP convention delegates to subscribe to Frank's view. They'd very much like for Republicans to think of themselves as an exclusive, all-volunteer organization that includes less than a third of California voters.
Strickland says he is certain that more strategic thinking will carry the day at the convention.