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Will The California GOP Throw Out Its Homophobic & Anti-Choice Stands To Placate The Voters?

NARAL’s score card rates most House Republicans’ voting records flat out zero. Currently there are only 4 Republican members with scores over 25% and none of from California or New York:

  • Jeff Van Drew (NJ)- 34%

  • Richard Hudson (NC)- 42%

  • Michael McCaul (TX)- 42%

  • Brian Fitzpatrick (PA)- 52%

Last year, Democrat Melissa Cerrato defeated 6-term moderate Republican incumbent Todd Stephens for his suburban Philadelphia (Montgomery County) seat in the state legislature. She ran largely on protecting Choice in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade. Ironically, Stephens was one of the last pro-Choice GOP legislators. It didn’t matter though, not with that “R” after his name in the kind of swing district he represented.

Stephens told a reporter that he hopes his “fellow Republicans will take a look at what’s going on across Pennsylvania and around the country on this issue and recognize that some of the bills that they’ve introduced are extreme and dangerous for women.” He lost by 58 votes— 49.9% to Cerrato’s 51.1%--anyway. It was the last seat needed by the Democrats to win control of the state House. Planned Parenthood, which had endorsed him in 2018 and 2020, endorsed Cerrato last year. Did Stephens lose because 58 pro-Choice women decided to vote for Cerrato? Or did he lose because 58 anti-Choice MAGAts decided to not vote for him?

Pro-Choice Republicans are an endangered species— and at a time when swing voters, especially suburban women, are prioritizing legal abortions when they vote. Yesterday, the L.A. Times noted that the California Republican Party is breaking with its own traditional positions against abortion and against same sex marriage. Seema Mehta reported that the party is divided on the issues “weeks before planned appearances by former President Trump and other GOP White House hopefuls. A proposed platform overhaul, which could be voted on at the state GOP’s fall convention in Anaheim, is a remarkable break from conservative dogma in the state that nurtured Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.”

Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School, told Mehta that “It’s a seismic shift but it’s a shift born out of practical necessity. Look at what’s happening not just in California but in much more conservative states, realizing antiabortion, anti-same-sex marriage stances are no longer tenable. I think it shows their acknowledgment that the sand has shifted underneath their feet.”

The California GOP proposal— adopted by a party committee in late July— supports “traditional family values” and a “strong and healthy family unit.” But it removes language that says “it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
The draft also excises opposition to a federally protected right to abortion, while maintaining support for “adoption as an alternative to abortion.”
Longtime conservative leaders are appalled by the proposal— both over its content and its likelihood to foment division at a key moment before the state’s presidential primary.
“This will be extremely controversial and will take a convention that is supposed to be about unifying the party and instead it ends up becoming a big feud,” said Jon Fleischman, a former state GOP executive director. “It’s the last thing the party needs.”
He described it as “a big middle finger” to the presidential candidates who are scheduled to speak at the convention, “all of whom embrace the various party planks that are proposed for removal.”.
Supporters counter that the updates align the party’s principles with voters.
Charles Moran, a Los Angeles County delegate who is a member of the platform drafting committee, said it is critical to move away from rigid orthodoxy “to give our California Republican candidates a fighting chance.”
“We need a party platform that empowers our candidates, not one that serves as an albatross around their neck,” said Moran, the president of Log Cabin Republicans.
…If the proposed modifications are adopted, it would place the party’s platform closer to the beliefs held by most Californians and Americans.
More than three-quarters of California adults did not want federal protection for access to abortion to be overturned, according to a 2021 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. That included 59% of Republicans.
Nationally, 71% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, according to a recent Gallup poll.
But the state GOP is more conservative than the state’s voters, which makes the proposed revision of the platform a test of the party’s priorities.
“The question they’re going to wrestle with is this: What is the primary purpose of a political party,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at USC, Pepperdine and UC Berkeley. “If it’s to reflect the ideological passions of their most loyal members, then they shouldn’t make these changes. But if it’s to win more elections, then it’s probably something they need to think about.”

There are 7 California congressional districts with Republican incumbents who are at high risk because of the party’s— and the incumbents'— opposition to women’s choice:

  • CA-03- Kevin Kiley- R+8 partisan lean— won by 7.2 points

  • CA-13- John Duarte- D+7 partisan lean— won by 0.4 point

  • CA-22- David Valadao- D+10 partisan lean— won by 3 points

  • CA-27- Mike Garcia- D+8 partisan lean— won by 6.4 points

  • CA-40- Young Kim- R+4 partisan lean— won by 3.6 points

  • CA-41- Ken Calvert- R+7 partisan lean— won by 4.6 points

  • CA-45- Michelle Steel- D+5 partisan lean— won by 4.8 points

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