Today's top viewed story on the online edition of the Washington Post essentially blames Corona del Mar attorney and former California Republican Party chairman Michael Schroeder for the fractured state of the GOP.
"The Republicans' War Within: In California, repercussions of one vote by legislator illustrate fractured state party," by Michael Leahy, uses the recall campaign against an Inland Empire Republican that was organized and partially bankrolled by Schroeder as being reflective of "the divisions and disarray among state Republicans."
How bad is it? Let Leahy count the ways:
A Republican hasn't carried the state in a presidential contest since 1988. The last time a California GOP candidate won a U.S. Senate election was in the same decade. Nowadays, Republicans' share of the state's registered voters has shrunk to 31 percent, a historic low.
"There are large parts of the state where the party is irrelevant," said Allan Hoffenblum, a well-known California political analyst who has been a campaign manager for Republicans in the state. "It's not even a statewide party, really."
Identified as an in-party wedge issue that has had national implications is the apparently ongoing attempt to recall state Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia), whose "crime" was voting for Governor (and fellow Republican) Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2009-2010 state budget that included about $12.5 billion in tax increases.
Anti-tax congressmen Tom McClintock (R-Granite Bay) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) quickly announced that Adams would be targeted with recall, which gelled into a teabaggy movement spearheaded by Schroeder, best known for being disgraced ex-Sheriff Mike Carona's consigliere, and Lee Lowrey, the fellow Corona del Mar GOP insider of Orange County-based Atlas PAC.
Adams has said he did not regret voting for the budget, that he would do so again if the financial conditions were the same and that he had the support of a "silent majority" of pragmatic Republicans up and down the state. He also called out the "Orange County Republicans" and "Newport Beach activists" mounting the campaign against him, accusing them of selfishly trying to protect their own slice of the financial pie at the expense of less affluent residents of Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, the latter of which includes Adams' 59th Assembly District.
Leahy notes Schroeder has been dubbed "the king of recalls," having led successful recalls against two GOP state legislators in the 1990s.
Schroeder, who has a reputation for flamboyance, was dressed in a black Star Wars T-shirt with an image of Darth Vader on it. He famously sent his business card to a recalled foe once, like a gunslinger leaving a memento. He drew a comparison between the targeting of Adams and the conservatives' battle in New York's 23rd Congressional District: "People lie or abuse their office, and we turn them out. That's what Republicans are doing all over."
But not in California, or at least the 59th District, where not enough valid signatures have been gathered to get an Adams recall on the ballot, the California Secretary of State's office revealed last month. Writes Leahy:
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Just as in the case of the New York special congressional election, analysts struggled to read the meaning of the latest GOP dust-up. What does it portend for Republicans in California and elsewhere that a beleaguered California assemblyman, fingered for expulsion by impassioned conservatives, has survived, at least temporarily? "I don't know," Adams concedes.
For now, all the two warring sides can agree on is that the Adams clash represents another firefight in an ongoing battle for the soul of the party in the state and around the country. But, in California especially, the brawl also serves as the latest evidence of a troubled party, one with a governor spurned by his fellow Republicans, and a conservative wing that, even in targeting its own, cannot seem to impose its will. It is a party adrift in California for the moment, its leaders acknowledge, rudderless.
. . . with Orange Countians steering the sinking ship, obviously.