Juliet Williams | AP
September 19, 10:05 AM

The California Republican Party is promoting one of its most diverse, youthful sets of candidates in years for this November’s election. The question heading into this weekend’s state party convention is whether it will matter in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

Republicans face enormous disadvantages in fundraising, demographics, voter registration and political organization. In the race at the top of the ticket, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is seen as having a virtual lock on re-election. He has pushed liberals in the Legislature to the right of their comfort zone, simultaneously appealing to moderate Republicans and the growing slice of voters who are unaffiliated with anyparty.

Capturing even one statewide office remains a long shot, but Republicans at least hope to pick up some legislative seats by running moderate candidates.

In the statewide races, Republicans are pinning their hopes on Pete Peterson for secretary of state and Ashley Swearengin for controller, both of whom have polled within striking distance of Democrats.

They also are pointing to candidates such as Korean-American Young Kim, who is trying to unseat Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva in the 65th Assembly District, an Orange County seat Republicans lost two years ago, and Cuban emigrant Mario Guerra, who faces former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, a Democrat, in the 32nd Senate District in the Los Angeles area. Most of the territory is in the current Senate district of Sen. Ron Calderon, a Democrat who was indicted earlier this year on federal corruption charges.

“They’re making really large strides in this election to make sure that the candidates reflect the neighborhoods that they’re running in,” said Carson Bruno, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University who focuses on the California GOP. “The tricky part will be convincing other Californians the party is changing.”

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