The Republican's need to divorce the Tea Party and reshape their brand.LOS ANGELES (AP) — If the future happens first in California, the Republican Party has a problem.
The nation's most populous state — home to 1 in 8 Americans — has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.
Democrats hold the governorship and every other statewide office. They gained even more ground in Tuesday's elections, picking up at least three congressional seats while votes continue to be counted in two other tight races — in one upset, Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized a district's growing swath of Hispanic voters, pushed out longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.
The party also secured a supermajority in one, and possibly both, chambers in the Legislature.
"Republican leaders should look at California and shudder," says Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 campaign and anchored former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election team in 2006. "The two-party system has collapsed."
Republican voter registration has dipped so low — less than 30 percent — that the party's future state candidates will be hobbled from the start.
GOP showing in Calif. worries party strategists