April 15, 2024
Super Tuesday is upon us, and the golden prize up for grabs is California. Former President Donald Trump will look to burnish his credentials with a dominant delegate victory, while President Joe Biden will also aim for a dominant show. But there are plenty of intriguing down-ballot races, not least the jungle primary for former […]

Super Tuesday is upon us, and the golden prize up for grabs is California. Former President Donald Trump will look to burnish his credentials with a dominant delegate victory, while President Joe Biden will also aim for a dominant show. But there are plenty of intriguing down-ballot races, not least the jungle primary for former Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, as well as several intriguing House Seats. This series, Golden State Scramble, will look at all of the above and more. Part six takes a look at two rule changes that could help Trump.

SAN FRANCISCO — California is the state former President Donald Trump loves to hate. 

He mocked Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), took shots at former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and used part of his speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference to tell one tall tale after another about the West Coast state, including a claim that the governor had offered illegal immigrants pensions. 

FILE – Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs after speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

But it’s the very state that Trump bashes that could hand him his quickest primary victory to date and help him shore up enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Two rule changes made by the Republican Party of California last year will get Trump over the finish line in record time. 

Last year, the California Republican Party overhauled its rules for allocating delegates in the state’s presidential primary in a shake-up backed by Trump and intended to discourage other candidates from campaigning in California and make the state far less competitive than it had been in the past. 

One change promises all of California’s 169 delegates to the Republican candidate who could pull in over half of primary voters in a winner-take-all scenario.

When the rule was passed in 2023, political experts and critics argued it had the ability to unfairly hand Trump a massive win or provide a Republican opponent with all the delegates even if he or she won by a slim margin. The rule was proposed when there was a more robust field of Republican contenders. However, heading into Super Tuesday, only Trump and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley remain in the running. 

“This race is quickly consolidating,” GOP fundraiser Charles Moran, a Trump delegate in 2016 and 2020, told the Associated Press. With a big win in California, “I truly think Trump could take the nomination on Super Tuesday — then this is over.”

In the past, the California GOP primary held separate races in each congressional district across the state and then another statewide election. The winner in each district picked up three delegates, and the candidate who did the best overall picked up about a dozen more bonus ones.

Ellie Hockenbury, deputy executive director of the California Republican Party, said the new rule would get the state party to get in compliance with the national GOP.

“It was ultimately decided that this is the right path for our primary, and the general belief we’ve heard from a lot of delegates is that majority-take-all is a system that rewards the candidate who’s clearly displayed an ability to win over a majority of California Republican voters,” she told the Desert Sun

The second rule change moves the date of the primary election up to March from mid-June.

California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said changing the date would encourage candidates to spend more time in the state campaigning and would allow the state the “opportunity to play a more significant role” in the race for the party’s nomination. 

California is the country’s most populous state. Democrats haven’t lost a statewide election since 2006 and outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. Trump winning big on Tuesday isn’t sitting well with some Democratic voters like Miguel Fernandez, the manager of a bodega a few blocks from San Francisco’s Union Square.

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“The irony isn’t lost on me,” he told the Washington Examiner. “Trump dumps on California, and we hand him his biggest win.”

Fernandez, who is voting for the first time Tuesday, added that he wouldn’t be holding his breath for a thank you card.

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