President 2012: Will California Make a Difference in GOP Presidential Race?

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Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pauses during a campaign stop at Food City on Monday, March 5, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn

The Sacramento Bee has interviewed two friends of mine who are also Republican activists here in California.

Today’s Super Tuesday contests won’t settle the GOP presidential nomination, yet it’s too soon to assume California’s June 5 primary will play a role in the outcome.

But depending on how delegates distribute after today’s 10 primaries or caucuses, Steve Frank, a senior California adviser to Newt Gingrich, says his candidate will make a major play for delegates in the state.

“If the delegates are as split as they appear to be, California will matter,” Frank said. He said the former speaker told him in a meeting two and a half weeks ago that he’ll stay in the race through Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed him, and California.

“He made it clear to us that he’s staying in through Texas and California because he’s convinced those are going to be game-changers,” Frank said.

Conservative blogger Jon Fleischman isn’t as certain that anyone besides Romney has a chance. Once a Perry supporter, he’s still in “the angry stage” that he can’t find a candidate he loves.

“At some point, you shift from angry to resigned. And once you are resigned, you vote for Romney,” he said.

At this stage of the race and with Super Tuesday results still a few hours away, I would say that Newt Gingrich’s surge has passed and the California GOP Establishment will vote en masse for Mitt Romney.

California is a very large state and Romney, if need be, will run $ millions in political ads to negatively sink Gingrich. Now, if Ginrich’s Super PAC were to throw in a bunch of money, Californians might see a very expensive telelvison campaign war.

But, I doubt that Newt has the resources to successfully compete.

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