GOP - Shooting Itself in Head

If they endorse a Democrat, GOP elected officials will lose the Riverside County Republican Party’s support.

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published:  Oct. 21, 2016
Updated:    Oct. 22, 2016 – 9:21 a.m.

Loyalty isn’t just an expectation in the Riverside County Republican Party. It’s a rule.

After GOP elected officials endorsed a Democratic state senator, the party Central Committee in January adopted a bylaw that withholds party support for any Republican elected official who endorses a Democrat or third-party candidate.

After Nov. 8, the rule applies to any Republican who endorses a Democrat, even in non-partisan races such as city councils and school boards. The San Bernardino County GOP doesn’t have such a bylaw, according to party Chairman Curt Hagman, who also is a county supervisor.

The Riverside County bylaw’s backers cite the need for Republicans to band together in a state dominated by Democrats. But critics, including three GOP county supervisors, think the rule runs contrary to good government.

“(The bylaw) seems to be part of a broader picture of maintaining some kind of party loyalty within the GOP,” said UC Riverside political science professor Shaun Bowler. “But I don’t think that the lesson to be drawn from recent electoral history is that the GOP keeps losing statewide and nationwide because it is not partisan enough or extreme enough.”

Area Democrats value party loyalty, but don’t have a firm rule.

The Riverside County Democratic Party can remove central committee members who endorse Republicans, Chairman Howard Katz said. While there’s nothing in the bylaws against elected Democrats endorsing GOP candidates, “We wouldn’t be too pleased,” he said.

“It may be the nicest Republican in the world (running for office),” Katz said. “But they’re still going to support the Republican platform.”

TURNING BLUE

Democrats are making gains in traditionally Republican Riverside County. Earlier this year, the number of registered Democratic voters surpassed the number of registered Republican voters for the first time in recent memory.

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