The Republican Party has tectonically changed many times in my political lifetime. It started by my wearing an “I like IKE” button in the 1952 presidential election when I was in the seventh grade.
Then came The Treaty of 5th Avenue between Vice-President Richard Nixon and New York’s Nelson Rockefeller, which “settled” ideological differences between Nixon and Establishment Republicans. Despite the “compromise,” the ideological fissure continued in the party — until, that is, the 1964 California Republican presidential primary with Goldwater’s defeat of Nelson Rockefeller.
The narrow 1960 loss of Nixon to national defense Democrat John F. Kennedy set the political climate that allowed Arizona’s Libertarian Republican, Senator Barry Goldwater — “ultra-conservative”— to seize the 1964 Republican nomination after Nixon’s 1962 loss to Governor Edmund G. Pat Brown.
The same Gov. Brown remembered for his comment about the 1964 San Francisco Republican convention — that there was “the stench of Fascism in the air” at the convention.
Nixon ran for California Governor and lost; the 1962 loss forced Nixon to the political sidelines as a 1964 third-string quarterback, a “doomsday” quarterback, if you will, to be called if both Rockefeller and Goldwater died during the campaign.
Upstart Goldwater and Establishment Nelson Rockefeller squared off for the Republican nomination to run against Lyndon Johnson who became president when Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963.
The Goldwater supporter: Old-line conservatives, the hate-President-Franklin-Roosevelt gang, those that would have recruited defeated German troops to continue the advance through Germany to attack Stalin’s Communist Russia and the thoroughly “white-bread” Midwest Republican and Western individuals, rugged individuals. They were the backbone of the 1964 Goldwater campaign.
1964 California became the political “götterdämmerung” that resulted in the Primary defeat of the Northeast-based Establishment and led ultimately to today’s President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
The 2018 national Republican Party suffered greatly at the polls; it resembled the huge 44-state 1964 loss it suffered with Barry Goldwater’s disastrous loss to Lyndon Johnson.
Question: Does the “national” Republican Party really exist?
Cable news would have us believe it does. The “national” Republican Party is really 50 separate state parties. For example, the run-off senatorial election in Mississippi between Democrat former Congressman/federal cabinet member Mike Espy and Republican-appointed incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Not even conservative California Republicans would support the former segregationist, appointed U.S. Senator and Confederate throwback Cindy Hyde-Smith on a California ballot.
Her 1950s-like statements, her Mississippi accent, her Democrat and segregationist past (both she and her daughter attended segregated schools) would never pass muster with California voters, even conservative ones. But she is promoted in Mississippi by the state Republican Party.
Another example is what happened in Kansas on Election Day where Trump-ally Secretary of State Kris Kobach lost the governorship. He won the Republican nomination for governor by a handful of votes, (300) votes he secured by parroting Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-illegal immigrant policies.
He was soundly rejected by Kansas voters who had loyally kept Republicans as governor for a generation. They reversed their history by electing Democrat Laura Kelly.
Back to California: In 2018, Democrats swept the state. They won all statewide offices. Incumbent Republican congressmen, suburban congressman, were retired. Democrats regained “Super Majorities” in their 80-member state assembly and 40-member state senate.
The California Republican Party hardly exists. It is third in registration behind independents. But the Party’s slow death was by a thousand cuts that started long before November 6, 2018.
It started in 2001 when extreme right-wingers took over the San Diego County Republican Party with Party Chairman, Ron Nehring. Six years later, he took over the State Party. No Republican has won statewide since he took over the state party.
Nehring put the Party in “Harm’s Way” by hiring two illegal aliens, Canadian Christopher Mathews and Australian Michael Kambrowski for high party posts despite their illegal status. Mathews was originally a NAFTA legal-hire for Nehring’s San Diego Party.
At the state level, Nehring hired Canadian Mathews to work as State Political Director (without any experience) while Mathews kept working for the San Diego Party. This violated his work visa. Mathews was working illegally. The Bush administration canceled Mathews’ Nehring-sponsored work visa.
Kambrowski’s hiring as chief operation officer of the party was even worse. Kambrowski arrived from Australia on a tourist visa not a work permit or visa. The tourist visa expired.
Twice he organized fraudulent “Green Card” marriages with American women but the efforts failed and he was ordered deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). He was jailed when he ignored the order. Kambrowski claimed to have a “Green Card” but no one, including State Party Chairman Ron Nehring has ever seen it as required by federal law.
Nehring’s hiring of two illegal alien white men is fascinating as he was so vocal in opposition to illegal aliens from Mexico.
The California Republican Party is in a self-generated coma. Will it ever awaken?
Remember the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater and his anti-Establishment-led Republican Party? Well, the Republican Party did well in the 1966 midterm elections and that night’s vote counts elected 47 new Republicans to the House, three seats in the Senate and eight new governors. Among others, these elections produced California Governor Ronald Reagan and Michigan Governor George Romney.
The 1966 GOP success pulled Richard Nixon back into the fray. He was elected president two years later, four years after Democrat Johnson pulled 60 percent of the presidential vote and carried 44 states.
Suburban Republican women voted for shiny new object Democrats on November 6, yes. But Nancy Pelosi and her minions will find ways to squander their majority. Massive Republican victories in 1966, 1980, 1984, 1994, 2010 and 2014 will repeat. Political history always does.
Raoul Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” he formerly wrote for the New America News Service of the New York Times and was a member of the International Seafarers Union in the 1960s.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.