This has been something that’s been building for a long time. If you had asked me the same question two or four years ago, the answer may have been no. I think now the situation has become so urgent. Look at how many recall elections we’re having, whether for governor or for school board and district attorney in San Francisco. The level of reaction to what we’re seeing goes beyond party, it goes beyond ideology — it goes to the experiences people have. I think that anger, that frustration, is palpable. I hear it from Democrats, I hear it from independents and from Republicans. So that leads me to believe, yeah, this can transcend the partisan polarization we’ve seen.
How do you diagnose your party’s problems in California? Why can’t Republicans even compete statewide?
Party leadership in California has generally been focused on winning targeted state legislative and congressional races. You can’t fault them for that rationale, but the problem is then you have no statewide voter contact infrastructure. That’s No. 1.
No. 2: There haven’t been candidates capable of putting together and articulating the kind of message and vision that’s appealing broadly to Californians.
Let’s say you’re campaigning at a farmer’s market in, say, Santa Barbara or Monterey, and a voter approaches you and seems to like you. But they’re apprehensive about voting for the Trump Party. What do you tell them?
I think it’s really important to understand where I’m coming from and why I think it’s important to have somebody who’s got a different partisan alignment from the rest of people in state government. So start with the notion that checks and balances are important. But then I do move to talk about the Republican Party that I know and the kind of Republican Party I believe we can have again, centered around ideas like responsibility and accountability. At some point we’re going to have to move past individual personalities, and I don’t know when that point will be.
So why not just run as an independent?
On the practical side, if you’re not worth several billions of dollars, you’re not going to be able to build that base that’s required. But there’s a more important point. I think authenticity counts for a lot in politics, and I’ve been a Republican my whole life. I’ve never been registered as anything else, and I think it’s important to be yourself.