KQED’s Rachael Myrow spoke with KPCC’s Frank Stoltze, who’s in Tampa covering the 2012 Republican National Convention. Stoltze got a read on some California delegates and their hopes for the California Republican Party.
KQED’S RACHAEL MYROW: Republicans from California, the ones who haven’t been trapped in Sacramento voting on bills this week, have been having a grand ol’ time in Tampa Bay at the GOP convention. The Golden State may not be in play this presidential election, but our Republicans still manage to attract a lot of attention and generate a lot of discussion. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze is there. Can you set the scene for us?
KPCC’s FRANK STOLTZE: The convention itself is in the city of Tampa. The California delegation is staying in St. Pete Beach, across Tampa Bay. It’s a beautiful resort area – big wide, white beaches. In fact, I caught up with one of the delegates on the beach – Gina Gleason from Chino Hills.
STOLTZE: It’s nice out here.
CALIF. GOP DELEGATE GINA GLEASON: Nice and warm and sunny. And the breeze is fantastic, and the water’s warm.
MYROW: Paul Ryan’s speech was last night. What was the California delegation’s reaction to it?
STOLTZE: They were just as excited as all the other delegates. I talked to a number of them afterwards, and here’s a couple of the California delegates who listened in on Paul Ryan last night.
DELEGATE GWEN DYRUD: Gwen Dyrud of Santa Ana, California. His confidence: “We can do this.” Oh, I loved that. I loved the straightforward talk. He didn’t talk like a high-falutin’ Congressman. He talked like your neighbor.
DELEGATE MARTHA FLORES GIBSON: My name is Martha Flores Gibson and I’m from Long Beach, California. I was mesmerized just by who he was. Just by his family. His mother. His deceased father. We have hope. He increased our hope.
STOLTZE: It’s interesting Rachael. Some in the California delegation, six or eight months ago, were not particularly enamored by Mitt Romney. I think the Paul Ryan pick is getting them more excited about this ticket.
MYROW: So we’ve heard from the rank-and-file there. Any headliners from California?
STOLTZE: Well, former Gov. Pete Wilson is the official chair of the California delegation. In fact, he’s the one who announced the delegate votes for Mitt Romney in that roll-call vote on the first day of the convention. Former Secretary of State Bill Jones is also here, part of the delegation. There are plenty of folks who are just small business people from around California, but also folks who are big contributors to the party. Charlie Munger, who is the son of Charles Munger — the partner of Warren Buffett. He’s from Palo Alto, also part of this delegation.
MYROW: Its interesting you mention Bill Jones, one of the very last statewide elected Republicans. Any talk among the folks you’re talking to about the future of the California Republican Party?
STOLTZE: The California delegation to the Republican National Convention is the largest delegation, but it also one of the weakest state parties. That’s one of the great ironies. What a lot of Californians are hoping is that if they elect a Republican president, that’ll help the party in California – that it’ll generate excitement, it’ll generate donations to a cash-strapped state party. So they’re really hoping that a Romney/Ryan win will help them in the Golden State.
MYROW: Frank, you’ve been to a number of GOP confabs around the country. What’s different, if anything, about this one?
STOLTZE: I think the biggest difference from four years ago in St. Paul, Minnesota is that people are extremely excited about this ticket, because they really don’t like President Obama. Republicans in California, like a lot of Republicans around the country, are unhappy with the president. So members of the party are very fired up. Speaker John Boehner, came and spoke to them a couple of days ago and urged them to make phone calls around the country to swing states to help get Romney elected.