As California Republicans convene in Los Angeles for their fall convention this weekend, two key people are missing from the festivities: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
While Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Thad McCotter all made plans to attend, the two GOP 2012 frontrunners skipped the event entirely, signaling, yet again, that the nation’s most populous state is likely to be an afterthought in the race for the White House.
Even California GOP activists are resigned to the fact. With a late primary and a strong Democratic tilt, the state with the largest haul of electoral votes is poised to be a bystander.
“We are now irrelevant in the nominating process because of how late we’re voting, and the state is not seen as particularly competitive in the general,” former state GOP chairman Ron Nehring said. “When you vote early in the nominating process and your nominee is uncertain, then the endorsement of state legislators is important. Any state legislator in South Carolina, Nevada, Iowa or New Hampshire who calls, say, Michele Bachmann is going to get a call back in an hour because it’s an early state. If you’re a state legislator from a state who votes late in the process, you might get a call back from an intern in four years.”
“If we had a February primary, every single Republican candidate would be at this convention. There’s no question about that,” Nehring said.
The state’s presidential primary, which in 2008 took place in February, is now slated for June.
While no campaign would openly concede that California isn’t a player in the presidential process, Perry’s and Romney’s plans this weekend reveal the state’s true place in the primary pecking order: as the convention opened Friday, the Texas governor was campaigning in Iowa while Romney was in California, but only to raise money.
Plus, it is very expensive to campaign in California because there are so many people to each (via television mainly) and expensive media buys.
California is only a player in the amount of money it raises for smaller state media campaigns. In GOP Presidential politics it is all about early money and momentum.