Republicans Should Drop Referendum, Focus on Agenda

Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher in California politics at this moment is the Republican attempt to block new Congressional and State Senate districts by referendum.

The efforts make little sense.

Referendums cost millions -- money that the party doesn't seem to have. Republicans are the minority party, making referendums of the districts an uphill battle politically.

Even if Republicans somehow qualify the referendum and win their argument, it's no guarantee of victory.

That's because judges would step in and draw new districts -- and it's quite possible that those districts will be less favorable to Republicans than the ones the party is challenging by referendum.

What would be a better strategy? Well, there are two better strategies, both of which the party should pursue simultaneously.

The first strategy is about political reform.

 Republicans do need a fairer election system -- one that uses proportional representation in allocating legislative seats.

This would be good for the party because the current system of single-member districts makes them weaker than they should be.

If seats in the legislature were given out according to the proportion of the vote that Republican candidates got, the party would still be in the minority -- but would be a much bigger minority.

The second strategy is about agenda, candidates and organization. The party needs to focus its resources on developing a thoughtful, thorough agenda -- not just anti-tax -- that can play well in every region of the state.

With such an agenda and good candidates, the party would have a great shot to compete and win many seats in Demoratic coastal California, particularly in a proportional representation system that would give the GOP seats even if they got a minority of the votes.

If the agenda was strong enough in such a proportional system, the GOP could conceivably win back control of the legislature.

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