So what exactly is The New Majority? What is their role in the Republican Party, and why have they suddenly gained so much power after losing an attempt to take over the Orange County GOP in 2000? What the heck does Arnold have to do with all of this? And why did they try to disenfranchise a few hundred Democrats and Independent voters last year? Follow me down below for more on this sordid tale of business-minded Republicans desperately searching for a place (and a few politicians) to call their own...
(Cross-posted at Calitics)
So how exactly did The New Majority get its start? Matt Cunningham fills us in:
Given its prominence in California politics, it’s difficult to remember The New Majority has existed for little more than half-a-decade—during which time it has rapidly risen from local malcontent to state Republican bulwark.
The New Majority burst onto the political scene in 2000, attempting to take over the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee in order to dump the Chairman Tom Fuentes, whom they viewed as too conservative and an obstacle to broadening the party’s image. The new group plowed approximately $200,000 into the campaign: recruiting a full slate of Central Committee candidates and promoting them with a full-blown campaign that even included cable TV ads.
I remember those New Majority ads from 2000. At that time, GOP registration in Orange County was hovering around 50%, and they were sounding off alarms that the GOP would fast lose its majority in Orange County should it continue veering too far to the right. And while The New Majority might have won a little respect from some Democrats and Independents who appreciated their efforts to bring the Republican Party back to the middle in OC, most Republicans just viewed them as a bunch of "rich RINOs" who were secretly advancing "the liberal leftist agenda" within the GOP.
So in the end, The New Majority's campaign to take over the OC GOP failed. They were not able to win a majority of Central Committee seats, so the OC GOP remained as far right as ever. Perhaps they could have just given up and gone home, but they did not do that. Nope, instead they soon discovered an opportunity.
They found Arnold Schwarzenegger. While still smarting from the Central Committee debacle, The New Majority crossed paths with the Hollywood star, who was pushing Proposition 49 (to expand after-school programs) for the 2002 ballot. Prop. 49 was viewed as a tool for establishing the actor’s policy bona fides with a political/policy win should he decide to run for statewide office. Schwarzenegger’s Prop. 49 campaign provided an immediate, impactful focus for the young group’s attention. “Arnold Schwarzenegger and Proposition 49 really rallied us,” said Paul Folino, Chairman of Emulex Corporation and Chairman of The New Majority/Orange County. Thus began a symbiotic relationship between the soon-to-be-Governor and The New Majority that has grown closer with time. After Schwarzenegger’s celebrated Tonight Show announcement he would run in the 2003 recall election, his first call was to The New Majority leaders at their board dinner meeting.
The New Majority—as a group and as individuals—has helped raise millions for Schwarzenegger and the excitement surrounding the advent of Arnold invigorated the group’s growth. “Arnold Schwarzenegger moved our progress up by five years,” commented Folino. “If it weren’t for Arnold, I’m not sure we’d have recently opened up two new chapters in the last two years.”
Well, The New Majority certainly has tied all its political fortune to Arnold and his political aspirations. They have given loads of money to Arnold's campaigns, and in turn Arnold has given them loads of political access. They gave Arnold $12 MILLION to fight for his 2005 special election initiatives.
And at this point, The New Majority is ready to use their connections to Arnold to grow and expand their power in California. Some are already cashing in. Meanwhile, the group itself has already expanded into Los Angeles... And they have plans to expand into San Diego, the Inland Empire, the Bay Area (especially tech-rich Silicon Valley), and even outside California.
So what can these other areas expect when The New Majority comes to town. Perhaps some fancy fundraisers with such "luminaries" as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, and Mitt Romney? Perhaps some fun and fabulous "nighttime madness" galas? Or perhaps some "bounty hunt" registration drives that ILLEGALLY SWITCH DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS TO REPUBLICAN AGAINST THEIR WILL?
From The OC Register:
The California Secretary of State's Office launched an investigation [on March 1, 2006] into hundreds of Republican registrations in Orange County done during a $100,000 drive to increase GOP voters in a Democratic stronghold.
As Republican leaders continued to blame three rogue circulators who were paid for each registration, most of the questions centered on Christopher S. Dinoff, 30, a Riverside man who was fired by a GOP-hired contractor after Dinoff was accused of strong-arming voters into registering as Republicans. [...]
Those who complained had typically registered as Democrats with the circulators stationed outside stores. They were surprised when they received notification from the registrar or the Republican Party identifying them as new GOP voters.
Desiree Funsch, 28, an Anaheim Democrat, said she thinks she was caught in the scam when she signed a petition in November outside an Albertsons.
It is not known if Dinoff registered Funsch.
"I'm upset at the Republicans for offering bounties to these people," Funsch said. "I also blame the Registrar of Voters for not double-checking this."
At last count, there were 536 Democrats who were illegally switched to Republican... But there may very well be more cases. And oh yes, guess who paid for this illegal switching effort? Yep, The New Majority.
So while these folks might not be as "far right" as the rest of the California Republican Party, they can be just as gruesome. They funded the rise of Arnold... And profited off of it. They funded Arnold's special election drive to advance his far-right-wing agenda in 2005. And oh yes, they were quite complicit in illegally switching voters to the GOP. Nope, this "New Majority" isn't really much different from the "old majority" of the GOP... But they do strike an interesting resemblance to a certain "pro-business group" that's trying to move the Democrats to the "center"...