With the exception of the occasional fundraising trip, for the past 30 years, Republican Presidential candidates have completely ignored California voters. The state’s primary was always held last, and in the general it is seen as irrelevant.
But according to Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California, in 2024 a big change is happening.
“While Republican Presidential candidates used to see California as just an ATM of money for fundraising, this year we are relevant because California will hold its Presidential primary election in MARCH – and offers the Republican Presidential hopefuls a winner-take-all prize for its delegates,” says DeMaio.
“This time California’s Republican Primary actually matters and that’s why Republican Presidential candidates are popping up everywhere in California,” notes DeMaio.
Indeed, Presidential candidates held their second debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley this week. But that’s not all.
President Donald Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis, Senator Tim Scott, and Vivek Ramaswamy will not only be making appearances this weekend at the California Republican Party’s fall convention in Orange County, but are holding a variety of events to reach donors - and voters - in the Golden State.
In previous Presidential primary elections, California has been largely irrelevant to who ultimately becomes the nominee of each political party. Despite its big size and delegate count, California has usually held its primary election late in the process in the month of June. By that point, one candidate had always consolidated an insurmountable lead and the contest was effectively over.
But in 2024 that will all change, because California is moving up its primary election to early March. That makes California an “early” state in the Presidential primaries.
This move puts California Republican voters in an extremely influential position.
“In 2024, for the first time in a very long time, California Republican voters will be quite valuable to candidates seeking the nomination not only because we hold a bunch of delegates but because we can make or break momentum of any candidate who has an early lead from Iowa and New Hampshire,” DeMaio says.
And the Republican candidates will likely continue to prioritize California in the coming months, according to DeMaio, to gain some momentum for themselves — especially after polling has found that Donald Trump is in the lead in the state. In the Real Clear Politics average, Trump holds a 35 point lead at 52% support. And a Reform California straw poll in August found Trump at 65% support among California Republicans.
But the California primary isn’t until March 2024, which is 5 months away — a political eternity in which anything could change and California could play a part.
Reform California sees the new-found relevance of California in the Republican nomination process as a big opportunity to rebuild and energize the conservative movement across the state.
“We welcome every candidate to come to California and stump for votes — and we hope all of this activity results in more grassroots activists getting involved in the fight to restore sanity in state and local politics here in California,” DeMaio says.
In addition to fostering participation in the Presidential primary, Reform California is focused on its statewide 2024 campaign to block state and local tax hikes and flip target seats. The organization recruits, trains and deploys volunteers into crucial contests and provides one of the best and most-used voter guides in the state for conservative voters.
“We need everyone to get involved in the fight to restore sanity in California — and 2024 offers ample opportunities to make a difference so we hope people sign up to volunteer and contribute to the cause today,” DeMaio concludes.