The California GOP kicked off their three-day Spring Convention at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Sacramento. The party invited Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) to be the special guest speaker for the luncheon on Saturday.
“He has been able to beat Democrats and has been able to fight against excessive regulation ,” Harmeet Dhillon, Vice Charmian of the CA Republican Party said.
Christie spoke about his admiration for President Ronald Reagan, his accomplishments in New Jersey, and encouraged his peers in California to “fight the good fight.”
“I’m asking you to fight for our country,” Christie said. “You see, most of the early heroes of the early conservative movement are no longer with us. Look around the room everybody. It’s now up to us. There is no one else but us.”
Newly elected California State Senator, Janet Nguyen (R- District 34) won her seat in Orange County by 18%. She said she was inspired by Christie’s message.
“We in our state of California are very blue,” she said. “We can also move in that direction. So his presence here tells us that yes, we can also work with the teachers union like he has. It’s just a matter of having the patience, and work, work, work to come together”
California GOP members, leaving the luncheon moved by Chris Christie’s speech, are already expecting him to be inside the White House by 2016. But Christie himself said he will take his time before he makes any sort of announcement.
“Take a deep breath everybody. We are 21 months away from electing our next president!” Christie laughed.
“I think he is in the top tier of candidates,” Dhillon added. “I think governors generally have an advantage because they have done this job before, and I think he has a track record of law enforcement and leadership in his State and he is highly respected for his authenticity.”
But in California, the GOP admits it has a lot of work to do.
“They are younger, women, minorities,” Dhillon said, about the new breed of Republicans in the state.
Since the beginning of the California Republican Trail Blazer program, the party has become more diverse.
“You saw Janet Nguyen, Ling Ling Chang, James Gallagher from Sutter County, Republicans are winning elections,” Political consultant, Mitch Zac said.
Nguyen said she is proud to represent her district as an Asian American female Republican, and she senses a shift in the political dynamic.
“We haven’t been able to reach across the board,” Nguyen said. “And we are now. We are moving in that direction, and we do reflect the diversity of California. But we have to get in front of the people and say ‘Look, we are no different than you are.'”
“We are trying to make sure we have candidates who are not too extreme, and that they do appeal more broadly than the Republican party. You have to do that to win elections,” Dhillon said.
The CA GOP convention continues until Sunday.