Benjamin Demers, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/16/2012 06:26:41 PM PDT
The primary on June 5 could be seen as a positive for Robert Rego, chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Party Central Committee.
The GOP trounced Democrats in voter turnout in the county by about 28 percent despite the Democrats’ 5 percent registration advantage.
Republicans also captured the top two slots in the heavily contested 8th and 31st Congressional districts. The new “top two” primary has the top two vote-getters moving on to the general election, regardless of party.
In November, state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, will face off in the 31st District. Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, and Tea Party conservative Gregg Imus will run against each other for the 8th District seat.
Two Tea Party favorites, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, and Claremont resident Donna Lowe, also moved on to the November ballot in the 33rd and 41st Assembly districts, respectively.
Rego wasn’t surprised at how the primary played out. Republicans in the county were enthusiastic for an assortment of reasons, he said.
Rego, whose Central Committee works to drum up voter support for Republican causes and candidates, recently answered some questions about the primary as well as the state of the GOP.
Question: Is there room for moderates in the GOP?
Answer: Let me answer that in several different ways. We need to understand that successes within the party are, because of the way that districts have been drawn, going to be more parochial to a certain area. And we need to understand that parochialism of the Republicans in that area may be more prone to vote for candidates that appear to be more conservative than others. And by the same token, in the (San Bernardino) valley here, the fact is that it is possible that more moderate Republicans have opportunities here coming up, so that there is a balance there.
The key to that balance is to make sure that nobody is being accusatory of others in an emotional status because of their beliefs to try and trample on the rights of another part of the party. The difficultly in the party, as I see it, has been trying to move forward since the issues related to Bill Postmus (the embattled former San Bernardino County assessor) have come to pass. There are several issues independent of what we are reading in the paper that relate to the governance issues.
I mention this because it moves to the open primary. Prior history had been to not support one Republican over another in the primaries. That it’s to be open to all Republicans. Give every Republican an opportunity. And in the closed primary, the party then selected their nominee to move forward for the general election.
Well, there have been accusations in the past that some leaders tried to sway voters in a way and participate in a way that led to the success of certain particular Republicans in the primary rather than having a neutral position as a party. Whether that is a valid accusation or not, I can’t say. I know that there has been a lot of that. And the concern there was that there has been a belief that as a result of that process, voters in the Republican Party tended to re-register as Decline to State or American Independent and on a small sample basis there seems to be some validity to that argument. Whether that hypothesis is true or not, I can’t say….
As a result of that, starting in 2008-09 was a rebuilding process to bring everyone back together. Well, with the open primary, there again seems to be an opportunity for those who want to create divisions in the party for their own gain.
And I can understand that – with their purpose for their own gain – that has paralyzed us from being as efficient as we could be. So we’re now going through this process, and looking at it, and making a best effort to analyze what works and what doesn’t work and where do we move from here.
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