How Reform California's Strategy to Win in 2022 Is Shaking Up Key Races
By Travis Dale
November 1, 2022
As the 2022 election enters its final hours, Reform California is executing the final strategies of a two-year campaign plan to produce big wins in target seats and defeat state and local tax hikes. Early indicators suggest the effort may be working, but is California still too blue for it to matter?
Reform California has a dream – of restoring political balance in a state that has been in the grip of one-party Democratic control for years. Reform California founder Carl DeMaio says “while so many are fleeing this state, we’re urging people to stay and fight – and we’re giving them a plan and tools to do just that.”
DeMaio says he launched Reform California because he was “fed up and frustrated with the failure and inability of the California Republican Party and establishment career politicians who were content to surrender rather than fight.”
In 2018, DeMaio decided it was time to end the Democrats’ Super-Majority in Sacramento so he launched a recall against a Democratic State Senator (Josh Newman) for his controversial vote to raise the gas and car tax. DeMaio’s plan worked – and the Republicans broke the Super-Majority.
DeMaio then led the effort to get 1 million signatures to put the “Gas Tax Repeal” Initiative on the ballot and give California Republicans a solid issue to run on. Unfortunately, California Republicans opted to ignore the wildly popular initiative – and they lost nearly a dozen seats statewide!
In 2020 DeMaio was back – this time helping lead the campaign to defeat Prop 15’s massive property tax hike. In the process of that campaign, DeMaio also focused on a handful of target seats with a “Plain English” Voter Guide to help boost turnout and sway votes. The plan worked – and not only did Prop 15 fail, but Republicans actually picked up seats in 2020 in California – the first time since 1998!
DeMaio’s Reform California campaign plan for 2022 included a wide-range of strategies – and political observers are taking note.
Strategy 1: Intervene in the Primary Election
In previous elections, Republicans failed to advance from the Primary to the General Election because of the fatally-flawed “Top Two” system of voting in California. That’s why Reform California made it a priority of getting voters to unite behind ONE single conservative candidate in each Primary race. As a result of this Primary effort, Republicans advanced to the General Election in all statewide offices in 2022.
“If we didn’t get a candidate into the General Election, particularly for races like Governor and Attorney General, it would have been a disaster for our turnout this November,” DeMaio notes. DeMaio also made endorsements in legislative races to ensure the “principled conservative fighters” would advance rather than the “weak flip-flopping RINOs.”
“We’ve got to get our strongest candidates out of the Primary so our base voters are motivated to work hard for the entire team come the General,” DeMaio explains.
Strategy 2: Train and Endorse Reformers for Office
Reform California also focused resources on recruiting, training and endorsing candidates for office – particularly school board candidates. “In previous election cycles, we would have races where the Democrats won seats automatically because the Republican Party was so inept that it didn’t even bother to put up a candidate for the office,” DeMaio laments.
Reform California also publishes its “Plain English” Voter Guide containing an easy-to-understand description of ballot measures and all of its endorsements for candidate races – including the judges and less-known local races.
Strategy 3: Recruit and Activate Grassroots Volunteers
It is no secret that the California Republican Party has allowed its volunteer base to atrophy over the years. That’s why DeMaio has invested in rebuilding a statewide team of grassroots volunteers.
“Each cycle we add to our volunteer base, and 2022 is no different,” DeMaio explains. That’s why Reform California sent personalized mailers to over 1 million conservative voters asking them to sign up to volunteer in the General Election.
DeMaio says the effort has activated more than 30,000 volunteers statewide. “We’ve asked our volunteers to do everything from canvassing door-to-door to using their social media to help us get our Voter Guide out to friends and neighbors,” DeMaio says. “This grassroots army is exactly what we need to combat the big dark money resources that the Democrats have at their disposal,” DeMaio notes.
Impressive Results – Key Metrics
As the campaign enters its final hours, Reform California released key metrics of what it has done in the 2022 election cycle:
- Volunteers Recruited: 31,231
- Text Messages Sent: 4.5 million
- Personalized Mailers Sent: 1.8 million
- Candidates Endorsed: 487
How much impact is the Reform California effort making? One key indicator is how many voters are actually reviewing and using the Reform California Voter Guide.
Audited website statistics from I-HeartMedia document that Reform California’s Voter Guide has become one of the leading guides in the state with more than 125,000 unique users in the Primary election – with the vast majority of those users in target districts.
You can view the guide at ElectionGuideCalifornia.org.
While Reform California’s efforts are impressive, will it be enough? DeMaio says in time yes.
“We fully expect to win more than we lose in 2022 – but we also know that taking back California will be a long-term effort and nothing changes over night or in one election cycle,” DeMaio says.
“But we refuse to give up and flee – we’re staying and fighting!”
Join the Campaign: Flip Target Seats in California
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