IRVINE, CALIF.—The anger voiced at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference toward many Republican U.S. House members from California over their failure to attempt to thwart a new redistricting plan bad for the state GOP was seconded by some past leaders of the state party organization. Three former California Republican chairmen—all of them solid conservatives—weighed in strongly against many in the Golden State GOP U.S. House delegation, all of whom opted against raising money to fight a plan stand that could spell defeat for six of the state’s 19 Republican House members.
“This was inexcusably bad,” said former California Republican Party Chairman Mike Schroeder, calling the recent redistricting plan crafted by a citizens commission “bad for the Republican Party and good for some Republican members of our delegation.”
Schroeder told HUMAN EVENTS that “our Republican congressional leadership collectively failed” by scotching efforts to raise money for a petition drive that could have stopped the commission plan and led to the state supreme court hiring a special master to draw new (and perhaps fairer) lines.
The inaction of the House members, he added, is a contrast “with the leadership in the state senate. They are heroes. They were told they needed $2.5 million for the petition drive [to stop an unfavorable plan that would reduce their ranks to less than one-third in the senate]. They went out and raised $2.3 million or $2.4 million.”
But in doing nothing to raise money for a similar drive against the new congressional district plan that could cost California six GOP House members, Schroeder declared, “no one [in the delegation] is innocent.”
Former Chairman Ron Nehring agreed, adding that the “clear lack of consensus among our Republican House members is likely to lead to as many as six [Republican] congressmen put in jeopardy.”
A third former Chairman, Dr. Tirso del Junco, contrasted the inaction of the congressional delegation in fighting the new U.S. House plan with the action Republican House members and the state party took in 1981, when the legislature passed a plan drawn by the late Rep. Phil Burton (D.-Calif.) that would reduce the GOP ranks in the California House delegation to less than a third.
“We got together $1 million for a petition drive to stop it,” del Junco said, “and once we had the financial commitment, I flew to Washington to get the first signature on the petitions from President Ronald Reagan.”
As he has several times in the past, Jon Fleischman, editor of the influential Flash Report on California politics, laid the blame for failure to fight the plan at the feet of the most powerful of California Republicans in Congress, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
“The single strongest advocate of letting the plan stand was Kevin McCarthy,” charged Fleischman. “He called every single member and lobbied them against raising money [for the petition drive]. Because there was no unity in the delegation, [National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman] Pete Sessions’ hands were tied and he could not put in the money from his committee for a petition drive. And Kevin McCarthy got a district with a 17% Republican advantage.”