Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
June 4, 2013

Independent campaign expenditures are corrupting politics and young voters are reshaping California’s electorate by eschewing parties.

Those were points of agreement in a talk between practiced adversaries John Burton, chair of the California Democratic Party, and California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte during a Tuesday morning panel at an American Association of Political Consultants conference.

The talk began with a discussion of whether California has become a one-party state, given Democrats’ legislative supermajority and control of every statewide elected office. Brulte, a former state senator who readily acknowledged his party’s woes as he campaigned to lead California Republicans earlier this year, pointed to “failure to recognize changing demographics” and said Republicans have been too reluctant to venture into communities outside of their traditional power base.

“If we want to be successful we have to get outside of our comfort zone,” Brulte said. “Too many Republican party leaders or Republican elected officials spend all their time talking to the choir.”

With his characteristic bluntness, Burton said Republicans have driven to the right and diminished their persuasiveness among moderates, having “appealed to a smaller hardcore of your party, which helps you in a primary but screws you in a general election.”

A focus on social issues risks fracturing the Republican base, Brulte said, pointing to the “libertarian” lean of younger voters and suggesting Republicans would have more success with economic issues.

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