Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Texas Gov. Rick Perry loving California GOP again

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Possible 2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry travels to California in October as the featured speaker at the Republican Party’s state convention in Anaheim.

The Texas governor spent a lot of time raising campaign cash in the Golden State when he ran for the White House last year, only to stumble badly during GOP primary debates. Among other things, he could not remember the third federal department he wanted to eliminate. State GOP leaders appear willing to give him another chance.

“Gov. Perry’s leadership is a major reason why Texas has emerged as one of America’s leading forces for economic opportunity and personal freedom,” said California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte. “We’re delighted that he accepted our invitation.”

In a move last month that appealed to GOP conservatives, Perry won passage of a Texas law that bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization – four weeks earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade. But some California Republicans prefer he steers clear of social issues at their convention.

“My guess is that he talks 90 percent about economics,” said California Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel. “He does not need to get bogged down in social issues.”

Steel said he likes Perry because he comes from a state where Latinos are more integrated into the Republican Party than in California. “There’s a whole host of Latino Republican elected officials in Texas.”

Perry, 63, is likely the first of many possible Republican presidential contenders to visit California over the next two years. He has more work to do than many of them. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is favored by 21 percent of Republican voters nationwide, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (18%), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (16%), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (15%), and Wisconsin Cong. Paul Ryan (13%). Perry is not mentioned in the poll.

California Democrats immediately dismissed Perry’s scheduled appearance in the state.

“If this is the best California Republicans can come up with, they better get used to irrelevance,” said California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores.

The state Republican convention is October 4-6 at the Anaheim Hilton. Other speakers include Republican National Committee Co-Chairman Sharon Day and National Republican Congressional Chairman Greg Walden.

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