Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

When California’s political historians look back on 2012, they might well conclude that it was one of those years that mark the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Just as we talk about the events before and after the advent of the full-time, professional Legislature in 1966, the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, or the adoption of legislative term limits in 1990, so 2012 could mark the last gasp of the California Republican Party as a political factor, and the solidification of Democratic Party dominance of the state.

Democrats have said for years that if they could just rid themselves of Republican interference in the Legislature, they could restore California’s economic and cultural luster.

They achieved that status this year, holding every statewide office, gaining two-thirds supermajorities in the Legislature and seeing the GOP reduced to a shell of its once-potent self.

Republicans are flat broke while Democratic constituencies, especially public employee unions, demonstrated anew this year that they can raise and spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigns. Much of that money was spent to preserve unions’ fundraising prowess and pass a tax increase on the wealthy that had long been their goal.

With elections for the governorship and other state offices, as well as for legislative and congressional seats, looming in 2014, Republicans could see their thin legislative and congressional ranks decline even more, and they have absolutely no viable statewide candidates on the horizon. Moreover, there’s much internal discord in the state GOP over what to do about its lowly status.

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