Fred Whitaker–a longtime political activist, community volunteer, city councilman and corporate lawyer–announced today that he will campaign to replace Scott Baugh as chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, arguably the most important local GOP committee in California.
Baugh–also a corporate lawyer, government lobbyist and former state assemblyman–announced an intention to step down last year after directing the OCGOP for 11 years.
Whitaker says that Baugh, who replaced longtime, legendary chairman Tom Fuentes, asked him to run for the post last year and he has already reached out to numerous activists for ideas to strength the local GOP that has been criticized for poor minority outreach.
"My vision for 2016 and beyond includes a reinvigorated, decentralized and technologically savvy precinct effort, a modern small donor program, and increased volunteer involvement," he said in an email statement to activists he hopes will elect him later this month. "Politics, especially partisan politics, is a team sport. A party and its chairman are only as good as the team that works the plan."
There are no known other major candidates for the non-paying job.
Though Republicans in Orange County has witnessed increased voter registrations for Democrats and Independents since the 1980s, Whitaker–a resident of Old Towne Orange and an Orange councilman since 2010–predicted this county will represent "the rebirth of the conservative movement in California."
In hopes of addressing the party's trouble with minority communities, he wants an outreach program that uses conservative-values "messengers that better resemble changing demographics."
In his mid-size law practice, Whitaker–who is currently vice chairman of the OCGOP–serves as outside General Counsel to several privately-held corporations and wealthy individuals.
One of the reasons for the local party's influence is that every presidential election cycle candidates repeatedly visit to entice the county's abundance of ultra-rich, Republican donors.