Jim Brulte

California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte center.

By David Siders
Published: Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014 – 11:25 pm

LOS ANGELES — California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in an e-mail to party leaders Saturday that he never thought the party should hold a convention so close to the general election and that he wants fewer conventions in the future.

His comments followed an e-mail in which Ron Nehring, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, complained bitterly about state controller candidate Ashley Swearengin “blowing off others on the statewide ticket.”

“I have never believed we should have a convention this late in the election cycle,” Brulte said, adding that “they are costly” and “the press come looking to write the narrative that Republicans are fighting.”

In the e-mail, obtained by The Sacramento Bee, Brulte wrote, “Let’s try to show our face of one big happy family… Move the needle forward for all our candidates in 2014… And then help me get rid of a couple of the four conventions this party has to hold every two years.”

In a separate message Saturday, apparently about Swearengin’s decision not to endorse Kashkari, Brulte wrote, “Felony stupid.”

Brulte’s remarks came on the second day of the state party’s biannual convention, after Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, left open the possibility she will vote for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in November. She has declined to endorse Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor, and her non-committal comments to reporters about Kashkari after a speech on Friday night dominated coverage of the first day of the party’s gathering.

Nehring complained the “main theme” of the coverage was “that of Ashley Swearengin distancing herself from Neel.”

“I doubt Ashley was given the prominence of speaking Friday night (the ONLY statewide candidate to be given a speaking role other than Sunday morning … as a platform to generate news by blowing off others on the statewide ticket,” he wrote. “This does NOT help the party, and it distracts from the efforts made to convey a positive theme. The coverage is not of a party expanding its reach. It’s about a party that isn’t unified because (its) candidates can’t get it together and get on the same page.”

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