San Diego, Calif.—With enthusiasm running strong at the Republican State Convention here for winning the governorship as well as unseating leftist Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), the growing Tea Party movement has helped revive prospects of California Republicans in at least one major county.
“We’re full partners with the Tea Partiers here and it has done nothing short of making the Republican Party a major player in Los Angeles County after decades,” Jane Barnett, GOP chairman of Los Angeles County, told HUMAN EVENTS. Along with husband Lou Barnett, Jane has been actively working for conservative causes and candidates in the Golden State since the 1960s.
When she became the GOP’s county chairman of one of California’s two largest counties last year, Barnett appeared to have a thankless task. Los Angeles County had not gone for a Republican for governor since George Deukmejian in 1986 and the number of elected GOP officials has been gradually dwindling in the last two decades.
“But now we have the people who walk the precincts, work phone-banks, and do the grass-roots political chores that are critical to winning,” said Barnett. “And, in large part, that is due to the fact we work closely with the two Tea Party organizations in our county.”
She noted that these two organizations, the Pasadena Patriots and the South Bay Patriots, “claim more than 400 active members and more than 12,000 participants on e-mail, who hold on-line meetings once a week.”
Most significantly, according to Barnett, “is that with more volunteers and workers than in recent years, our county party is now registering new Republican voters on an average of 1,000 per week. And what is fascinating is that the new Republican voters are from Hispanic families and all are born after 1990.”
Barnett noted that the enthusiastic Tea Party Republicans are working on campaigns and in some cases seeking office themselves. Nathan Mintz, Republican nominee for the open 53rd state Assembly District, came out of the South Bay Tea Party movement and that John Colbert, GOP candidate against Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, and 43rd Assembly GOP hopeful Sunder Romani have strong Tea Party ties.
For the most part, said Barnett, the Tea Party forces in Los Angeles County backed State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the Republican primary for governor over nominee Meg Whitman, who was considered more moderate.
But, Barnett said that Whitman herself “is working closely with our county [party] board and the Tea Parties and her campaign has been generous in financial support of our activities. I just recently opened the 16th party headquarters in the county and we have new computer and phone systems and training seminars for workers. Meg was key to making this all happen.”
While the party chairman conceded that there were still lingering doubts among the Tea Partiers about Whitman’s conservatism, she quickly added that almost all of the activists have put aside those doubts “and are working hard for Meg to defeat [former Gov] Jerry Brown.”