Jim Brulte

Brulte issues warning for state GOP in 2012
Wendy Leung, Staff Writer
Created: 07/23/2011 10:10:44 PM PDT

ONTARIO – You thought the 2008 elections were interesting? Wait until you see 2012.

Former state Sen. Jim Brulte has been delivering that message to groups up and down the state. Last week, Brulte, who heads the political consulting group California Strategies, discussed the quirks of the 2012 elections with the Lincoln Club of San Bernardino County.

After Brulte’s presentation, the audience was a bit deflated.

“That was pretty scary,” said Marc Steinorth, Lincoln Club chairman. “I’m a little intimidated by what the future holds.”

Brulte doesn’t mean to be an alarmist.

It’s just that a multitude of factors makes 2012 an election season like no other.

“I’ve been running up and down the state kinda like Paul Revere trying to warn Republicans what’s coming for them in the 2012 election,” Brulte said. “I don’t think most Republicans know what’s coming to them.”

Redistricting, Proposition 14, an open primary and the presidency at stake will make next year unique. But those factors could also turn the historically safe districts into competitive ones, Brulte said. That means some districts that have traditionally been Republican territory might not be so any more.

Speaking to a conservative crowd at the DoubleTree Hotel on Friday, Brulte said Proposition 14 could change the Republican and Democratic strongholds.

Last year, voters passed the proposition, which changed the election process so that the the top two candidates in the primaries, regardless of party affiliation, face off in the general election.

“Safe seats don’t necessary matter this year,” Brulte said. “It’s conceivable you could have districts where Republicans get to help decide which Democrat wins and districts where Democrats get to decide which Republican wins.”

For example, in a conservative-safe district such as Sen. Bob Dutton’s, five Republicans and two Democrats could end up running. But if the five conservatives split the vote, the top two contenders in the general election could be Democrats.

Several members in the audience gasped.

Brulte has delivered a similar message several dozen times and most conservatives tell the former legislator they didn’t realize the political landscape has the potential to change so much.

“The job of a leader isn’t to tell people what they want to hear, the job of a leader is to tell people what they need to hear,” Brulte said. “I’d rather warn them in advance than have them wake up the day after the election and go, `Oh, my god.”‘

According to Brulte, a number of new challenges face Republicans in 2012 and beyond.

The state’s demographics have changed in the past decade with Latinos and Asian Americans forming a majority in California. However in recent presidential and gubernatorial races, Brulte pointed out, Republicans have captured an average of just 25 percent of the Latino vote and 38 percent of the Asian American vote.

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