As has been chronicled on this blog many times, I left the CRA a while ago. I watched it single handedly devolve into something that I no longer recognized. Barbara Alby (rest in peace) and her minions have destroyed any chance this group has of ever being viable again. I will lay all this out for you, but the CRA was at one time a growing organization that did have quite a bit of clout within the party and the endorsement was coveted, not an afterthought as it is now.
You see Alby and her minions introduced and elevated “scorched earth tactics.” If you’re not with us you’re against us. Alby went one step beyond others and put the whole thing in terms of a spiritual battle between the light and darkness.
Think Frank E. Peretti’s This Present Darkness.
Alby got into power and then pushed out all of her opponents. This initial purge resulted in the formation of the California Congress of Republicans (CCR). Keep in mind that many of these people did not differ much on policy. On the whole, it was purely due to the fact that they did not have allegiance to Alby and company. Over the years, other leaders came and went. The group tried to regain its footing many times but continued to bleed members.
In 2011, you had the infamous Celeste Greig vs Karen England smackdown. Again, the losing side being wiped out of CRA entirely, many with lifetime bans. During this struggle, the Park Brothers began to take over the group, coalescing power, and just like that, George Park Jr became the defacto leader. Think the Trojan Horse that appeared a gift but was really an unmitigated disaster. I say Park was the leader because John Briscoe was just a useless puppet very similar to Bill Cardoza. Once again it was jihad time against their own membership, people were again purged for the soul fact they were not ideologically pure enough.
Then a movement to oust the Parks happened and CRA once again cleansed itself of people who were not worthy. Well not really, the current President was best friends with said Park brothers. Naturally he shielded them from any criticism. Meanwhile, the rank and file were told Craig Alexander was preparing a large lawsuit to recoup damages. The legal action never happened and Craig hasn’t been seen in years. The Placer County Mafia sticks together and protects their own.
As for as the characters running for next CRA president? I have no real opinion, but if there was a “none of the above” I’d vote that way. Also, they have thinned their ranks so badly that no one wants to join the group either. In less than three decades, CRA has lost 99 percent of their membership going from 80,000 to 800. Last I checked, entire counties do not have any active units! Sad! However, that’s ok because the only members left all think the same on policy and ideologically.
I remember the good old days of having endorsement conventions and crossing swords with people only to go out for a bite to eat or a drink afterwards, but those days are long gone. The battles now go bone-deep with some friends being lost forever; causalities of a war for purity that no one can win. Some of these battles we fight internally are the equivalent of Jihad. Barbara Alby taught us well in the ways of scorched earth and Jihad.
I remember when getting picked for the endorsement convention used to mean something. All it means now is a meaningless meeting on a Saturday which in most cases involves considering the merits of the only Republican in the race. The endorsement is so worthless that the candidate (whoever he/she may be) doesn’t even bother to show up. Yet somehow the delegates in attendance turn the meeting into a 3 hour BS fest complete with people needing to get on their soap box; each in turn beating their chest and promising that the good old days of Ronald Reagan could be right around the corner. This is why some units don’t send anyone at all, because no one wants to go, yet the CRA leadership doesn’t see it that way. Now the group is filled with nothing but policy wonks and people that want to have fights about Roberts Rules or whether someone is really a Republican or if they are a plant. No current member of the Board knows how to fix this mess.
Then witness the endorsing of Ted Cruz. I was there when a motion was made to consider Donald Trump. You could hear the groans. Delegates were horrified that they should even be considering the one person who had a chance to be nominated by the Republican Party. Mind you that Trump had all but secured the nomination when CRA took this vote. CRA was ground zero of the NeverTrumpers. CRA endorsed Ted on the first ballot with over 80 percent of the vote, which is about how big Trump’s victory was when California voters had their say.
This year, the CRA couldn’t endorse John Cox, they instead chose Travis Allen. Allen finished fourth. 90 percent of Republicans voted for another candidate. CRA endorsed candidates are getting destroyed at the ballet box year after year. This illustrates how out of touch this group is. In many races, the Green Party guys get more votes than CRA’s candidate. This is why no one wants to join. You have kicked out every sensible, fair-minded person. Occasionally CRA will pick-up a single-issue voter that wants to kill Common Core, repeal the Federal Reserve, call a Constitutional Convention, or enact the State of Jefferson.
How would I fix CRA? Close the door and shut off the lights.
In all seriousness, here are my suggestions but don’t expect them to be listened to or considered.
• I would rename the group and adopt a new logo; the current name and logo are very stale and could use a refresh.
• Stop kicking out members because you don’t believe identically on every issue. Purging 99 percent of the membership is proof you need work in this area.
• Stop having board meetings in seclusion and making people drive all over the State to attend. Conduct business over a conference call or Skype. Open them to the public and add some transparency.
• Keep the meetings, including the regular meetings short and to the point. No more two-hour, long-winded sessions. You are running off members. No one cares to hear about your car ride to the board meeting. Tell us what happened in a short synopsis.
• Restructure the entire board and put the power down at the grassroots level. Allow new units without red tape. Reward recruitment and grant breaks on dues owed the parent organization.
• Have a strategic plan and stick to it. Stop being wishy washy.
• Move your endorsement calendar up so as to avoid embarrassment.
• Remove rogue, alcoholic board members. This should go without saying, but actually do it.
• Don’t give us rhetoric but no action to match it.
• Do a deep dive on units who have had the same president for over a decade, there is something inherently wrong there.
Respectfully submitted in a spirit of charity,
Editor Note: Below is list of splinter groups formed as result of being purged from CRA.
California Congress of Republicans founded 1989
Conservative Republicans of California founded 2011
Impact Republicans founded 2015