Candidates at Tea Party Conference
(Los Angeles Times) - Wading into a roomful of California tea party members over the weekend, the two most prominent Republicans running for California governor professed their reverence for President Trump.
It was a must-do if they want to win over the highly charged conservative activists who favor Trump. The tea party’s rising influence in the state Republican Party makes its members’ votes essential for any candidate hoping to coalesce enough GOP support to make it to the November 2018 general election.
A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released in 2015 found that 48% of Republicans in California supported the tea party movement to some degree.
So Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox on Saturday worked feverishly to prove their pro-Trump credentials.
“I support Trump 100%. I’m happy he’s elected,” Cox assured about 120 members at the Tea Party California Caucus conference, dubbed “The Real Resistance,” at a hotel near the Fresno airport Saturday.
Allen one-upped Cox when the stood at the podium about 90 minutes later: “There’s only one candidate for governor who actually supported the Republican nominee for president, and his name is Travis Allen.”
Out of earshot of conference-goers, the Los Angeles Times also asked both Allen and Cox if they considered themselves tea party members. Both sidestepped the question.
“I just consider myself a common-sense Californian,” Allen said.
|Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox speaks |
at the Tea Party California Caucus in Fresno
on Saturday. (Silvia Flores / For The Times)
Cox said he was campaigning across the spectrum of the Republican Party, including the gay group Log Cabin Republicans: “I’m out to unify all Republicans. I am at heart a fiscal conservative.”
From the outset of their young campaigns, Allen and Cox have faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Not only are they up against three well-known, well-funded Democratic heavyweights — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang — but they’re also running in a state where Democrats hold a 19-percentage-point advantage over Republicans in voter registration and where Hillary Clinton trounced Trump by 30 points last November.
Along with Cox and Allen, little-known GOP candidate for governor Stasyi Barth of Lake Elsinore was also on hand at the Fresno event. Barth, who had a table at the conference but did not have a speaking slot, pushed back on Allen’s pronouncement that he was the only Republican candidate for governor to vote for Trump. Not only did Barth vote for Trump, she’s a tea party member, she said.
Barth yelled above the din as members starting drifting out, telling everyone that she has been a proud, longtime tea party member and was a Trump supporter from the beginning.
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