It’s true, one party thoroughly dominates California when it comes to electoral politics where the rubber actually meets the road.
Democrats? Nope, Republicans.
Dan Morain, the editorial page editor of our sister newspaper in Sacramento, compiled some interesting numbers. And they should not be so comforting for Democrats in the state. When it comes to voting for those people who are most central to local government, Californians prefer Republicans. Registered Republicans hold 46.5 percent of the seats on California’s 480 city councils, to Democrats’ 42 percent. The rest belong to those who won’t state a party preference or belong to a third party, according to Sacramento consultant Mike Madrid of the research and data firm, GrassrootsLab.
It’s even more dominant among county supervisors, where Republicans hold more than 60 percent of the seats on county boards.
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Contrast that to statewide offices, and there is a deep disconnect.
But don’t consider this the dawn of a new Republican day, at least not yet. Democrats dominate councils in California’s biggest cities. But in small and midsize cities, Republicans are firmly in control.
Because local offices are nonpartisan, candidates generally don’t discuss their party affiliation with voters. Nor do they discuss abortion, gay rights, immigration and other issues that separate Republicans from the California electorate. Instead, they focus on issues of government transparency, efficiency and public safety – things about which most people agree.
“It’s like a blind taste test. If you don’t know the party labels, Republicans are doing better than Democrats,” Madrid told Morain.
“If you want to rebuild the party from the ground up, you start at the local level,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte told Morain.
California Republicans have many problems. But maybe, just maybe, Republicans are beginning to come back, slowly, from the bottom up. It won’t be apparent in statewide races in 2016, and probably not in 2018. But pendulums do swing. Ahd having two viable parties to debate what’s best for the state can only be good for California.
BY THE NUMBERS
The consulting firm GrassrootsLab finds:
▪ 24 percent of Latino council members are Republicans.
▪ 46 percent of Asian city council members are Republicans.
▪ 52 percent of Democratic city council members are women.
▪ 33 percent of Republican city council members are women.