Republicans shut out statewide seek influence through city councils, school boards and similar government agencies

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: July 8, 2016 – Updated: 6:14 p.m.

Things haven’t been going well for the California Republican Party for years. But it’s a different story in Riverside County.

Roughly seven in 10 city council members and county elected officials – supervisors, board of education members, the district attorney, sheriff and superintendent of schools – are registered Republicans, according to a spreadsheet from county GOP Chairman Scott Mann, who said the list was compiled from public information.

When given a copy of the list, county Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer made some corrections. But the percentage of Republicans in local offices stayed about 70 percent.

When school boards, water district boards and other special districts are factored in, 59 percent of local elected office-holders in the county are Republicans, according to Mann’s figures.

It’s part of a GOP strategy to focus on winnable local races, since it has been shut out of state offices. The governor, lieutenant governor, both U.S. senators and other statewide elected officials are all Democrats.

The GOP already has been shut out of the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Ca. Two Democrats – California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County – advanced out of the June 7 primary, which sends the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to the general election.

The bad news doesn’t end there for Republicans. Democrats hold a majority in the state Legislature, although it’s not the two-thirds majority needed to raise taxes or pass urgent legislation. And 39 of California’s 53 congressional seats are in Democratic hands.

Also, Democrats made up 45 percent of the state’s registered voters, while the Republican share – 28 percent – has shrunk in recent years. The state’s 55 electoral votes haven’t gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, and a new poll shows Hillary Clinton with a 30-point lead over Donald Trump in the Golden State.

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