The Spectacle Blog

California Scheming: GOP Grassroots vs. Meg Whitman

By on 8.19.10 | 4:25PM

Going into this weekend's California GOP convention in San Diego, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that conservative Republicans are at odds with gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's moderate stances on illegal immigration and environmental regulation. The article also notes that Whitman is doing nothing to change the widespread perception of her as regally aloof:

Whitman plans a public event Friday outside the convention, but after an address to delegates that evening she has no plans to stay through the weekend to schmooze with ardent party supporters at hospitality suites, caucuses, seminars and meet-and-greet sessions.

In a report Monday, I noted that some California Republicans "harbor deep doubts" about Whitman. One activist told me that Whitman's arms-length relationship with the GOP grassroots is "a repeat of Schwarzenegger all over again," referring to the current Republican governor's disinterest in party-building activities.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will skip the state convention, and has only attended one of the past four semiannual Republican gatherings. Schwarzenegger "doesn't give a damn about the local parties" and "doesn't show up" for GOP fund-raisers or campaign events, the activist said -- at least not since the state party helped Schwarzenegger pay off more than $2 million in debts for his 2006 re-election campaign.

A Los Angeles-area Republican said local party officials were promised that Whitman (who has spent upwards of $100 million of her own money on her gubernatorial campaign against Jerry Brown) would pay to set up GOP offices in each assembly district by July. "Now it's mid-August, and no checks," the Republican said. "Instead, Whitman has opened offices for her own campaign, and expects local activists to provide quid pro quo support for her campaign."

While trying to take "total control of the state party," the Republican said, "Whitman is looking out for herself and herself only."

Several Republicans I spoke to in California are worried that friction -- or, more accurately, a disconnect -- between the Whitman campaign and local party activists could undermine prospects for GOP candidates in several potentially competive congressional races in the state.

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