Republicans now can win statewide even though they are unlikely soon to win a legislative majority because voting runs much heavier in districts they dominate than in many with strong Democratic majorities.One example Elias offers is Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who, according to Elias, has changes positions so much since running for the Assembly in 2004, such as previously supporting guest worker programs and Bush's proposed immigrant amnesty program. Poizner has now reversed his stance, desiring to "totally cut off" illegal immigrants and deny public services, and apparently, the list does not stop there, with Poizner once supporting government-funded abortions, but is now against them.
But if they weave too far right while vying for nominations, they risk losing the moderates and liberals who comprise the vast majority of the electorate. And if they recant their primary stances, they become flip-floppers.
While I am not too familiar with the candidates in California, one thing is obvious - the rise of the far right has influenced those who seek office in the name of conservatism, and because of the short attention span of Americans, the reversals will probably not stop here, and will most likely get more outrageous the closer it is to election day.
The real question is how long these stances will be remembered outside the GOP.The catering to the conservative base is dangerous because once those elected to office who pandered to the right are ready to legislate, there will be certain expectations of them from those they made ridiculous promises to, and there are two options - a)become more moderate and ignore your campaign promises, risking future reelection, or b)count on those same people to reelect you in a couple years and pass legislation to further their agenda. Either way, the majority loses out, because should the candidate become more moderate, they are still coming from a more radical position, and should they ignore the majority and become a fringe politician, the majority will have to bend to the wants of the few.
For if this year's crop of candidates is anything like many predecessors, they will become more moderate after the primary, when they must appeal to an electorate not dominated by conservatives and Tea Party activists.
Back when Jerry Brown was governor, top aide Tom Quinn remarked, "We can say almost anything we want before Jan. 1 of an election year; no one will remember." It's now well beyond Jan. 1 and Brown will soon start trying to make sure the great mass of voters - non-Republicans - remembers what these people are saying now.