Listen to Episode 46 with Luis Alvarado
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Republicans are recovering from what was a very successful election for Democrats. Despite winning an additional two seats in the United States Senate, Republicans lost at least 39 seats in the United States House of Representatives and lost hundreds of seats in state legislatures across the country.
Luis Alvarado is the co-founder of GROW Elect Political Action Committee, where he specializes in getting Latino Republicans elected to municipal offices. Today he joins us on Bills to discuss what went wrong for Republicans in 2018. Our conversation ranges from Latino voting patterns in national elections to the multiple successful municipal campaigns Luis worked on this year.
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Here’s an brief summary of what we discuss in this episode. You can find a full transcript below.
- How Republicans must respond to country-wide demographic changes, especially among Latinos and Americans moving between states.
- Democrats received the vast majority of Latino votes in 2018, according to exit poll data.
- Luis felt that neither party was especially effective in reaching Latino voters.
- In California, Democrats had three strategies that brought them success, Luis says. They used ballot-harvesting, pre-registration, and automatic voter registration at the DMV. Ultimately, Luis says Donald Trump was a calamity for California.
- Republicans need new strategies in California if they want to stay relevant. More voters are registered without a party than are registered as Republican in California, according to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Luke Scorziell: Hello and welcome to Episode 46 of Bills with Luke Scorziell.
Republicans across the country are recovering from what seems to have been a very successful election for Democrats. They didn’t just flip 39 seats in the United States House of Representatives. They also picked up an additional 258 seats in state house chambers across the country and 70 state senate seats across the country as well*. These state level gains resulted in Democrats now controlling the legislatures of four additional states and completely controlling six additional state governments at the legislative and gubernatorial level.
Here to help us break down the election results is Luis Alvarado. Luis has tremendous political experience at the national, state, and local level. He has worked on several presidential gubernatorial campaigns and he is the co-founder of GROW Elect Political Action Committee, where he specializes in creating effective strategies to get Latino Republicans elected to municipal offices. So thank you so much for joining us on the show today, Luis.
Luis Alvarado: Thanks for the invitation. It’s a pleasure being here with you and with your audience. I’m looking forward to a great conversation.
Luke Scorziell: Yup. And I think it’s going to be an excellent recap of what happened for Republicans in 2018. So just delving into that, what do you think went wrong for Republicans on the national stage?
Luis Alvarado: Well, there’s never a silver bullet for either side. When something goes good or bad it’s always going to be a combination. I like to call it more like an opera that grows into the crescendo of how election day results develop and how they turn out for each party. And for Republicans, we have been on a steady decline for a while now. And I think, as we’re probably gonna do what everybody does, is talk about Donald Trump and the effect was it a black hole or is it actually a shining light. For Republicans nationwide, it turned out to be a black hole, not only because of what he represents, but I think ultimately he just accelerated, he amplified sentiments that were already there that were for anti Republicans. And the advantage that Democrats had, ultimately I would like to point out, is that they didn’t have a deficient candidate on the other side, like Hillary Clinton was in 2016 that gave great apathy to Democrats. So what we saw was an energized based on both sides, but when you have both sides equally energized, that means that Republican suffer the consequences because the majority of the registered voters nationwide are Democrats.
Luke Scorziell: So you mentioned some of the symptoms that have been hampering Republicans for a long time and maybe that this has been something coming even before President Trump. Is that about right?
Luis Alvarado: Yes. And it’s not just registration, it’s because this nation is going through a demographic change. You look at demographic, a breakdown of this country, and it’s not just birth rates or immigration. It also has to be with migration within states. Many Californians have now moved to Texas and they took their political convictions with them. So we saw Beto actually raising some, some good, a turnout in Texas, enough to give a Cruz a scare. Because now Cruz became the apathetic candidate and Beto became the charismatic candidate. And that equalized a lot of the voter registration difference that Republicans have in Texas. So that being said, it’s a combination of things at a national level that were exacerbated by the rhetoric and the atmosphere that we have with our political climate. You asked nowadays and people can tell you who the characters are at CNN. They can probably name five people who are commentators that’s and they have their favorites and they have followings.
And likewise the same thing for Fox. So the nation is paying more attention to the political landscape. And the reality of today is that campaigns no longer stop. In the old days you used to finish on election day, you got your roll your sleeves, you got to work. And you ask now the legislators working it out. Now that’s not the case, as, as a matter of fact, right now I know that there are people already organizing for 2020, which is two years from now. But that is the reality of today’s political landscape. People are really in tune to what’s happening in Washington. And somehow their fears and their aspirations are really electrified by both parties. Right now.
Luke Scorziell: You talk about this demographic change in the country, well the stats show that a record 29 million Latinos this year, which represented 12.8% of eligible voters, were qualified to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, according to Pew Research. So Democratic candidates received 69% of the Hispanic vote this year, which was actually up four percent from Hillary Clinton’s count in 2016. Republicans just received 29%, which was the same as Donald Trump in 2016 as well. So do you think that Democrats have really taken advantage of that demographic shift to take hold of these Hispanic voters? Or is this just a reaction to the malfeasances of the Republican Party?
Luis Alvarado: It’s a reaction. Democrats have been deficient in connecting with Latinos. As a matter of fact, they, they still–these are conversations that I had with my Democrat consultant friends. You know, sometimes they don’t see the investment in actually reaching out to Latinos because somehow they feel they’re already a known quantity. Latinos are going to be there. They’re not going to vote for Republicans. If they show up, they’re going to vote for us, so it doesn’t become a campaign to influence. It becomes a campaign to get the vote out, and they feel that Donald Trump did that for free with the Latino electorate. Really Democrats didn’t do anything specific or different to reach out to the Latino Community. And Republicans, likewise, completely abandoned any effort to talk to Latinos. Whereas I was part of the RNC program when they were looking at what now famously is known as the autopsy, after the shellacking that we took a few years back. The Republican Party decided that we needed to talk to this new demographics. There was an actual invested effort and do so. That completely effort has been shelved. And now the Republican Party has no effort at a national level to actually go out and influence Latinos. And rightfully so, because knowing that the commander-in-chief, the president, the spokesperson of the Republican Party uses Latinos as the lynching pin to promote his agenda and to ensure that his base becomes electrified. And that’s the choice that the Republican Party has done and now they’re paying the consequences.
Luke Scorziell: So in light of these decisions, what can Republicans do heading into 2020 to capitalize on this vote? I mean, it’s such a significant margin of the electorate now, and it would be a shame for either party to just ignore it totally.
Luis Alvarado: Well, 2020 is around the corner. And I think what Republicans need to do is we’re going to talk about the presidential campaign, I don’t see the presidential campaign doing anything different to bring Latinos onboard. I think they understand that their best option is to tell the American people that they’re the best option for a strong economy and to pay no attention to all the other bad things that the Republicans are known for or are being blamed for.
And, ultimately, it’s going to be to the individual candidates to be able to present a platform to their own constituents that for that specific district, they are going to be the best representatives as opposed to the Democrat that they’re going to be facing in that district. And those candidates who have demonstrated to do that with their own district have been able to communicate with Latinos now. In California in this last election that wasn’t even enough to save the Valadaos or the Jeff Denham’s who have had great inroads with Latinos in their districts, but the overwhelming sense of retribution against the President’s actions was just not enough for them to overcome all the gains that they had made in their own district.
Luke Scorziell: Overwhelmingly on the national level, do you believe that Hispanics strongly oppose President Trump?
Luis Alvarado: Yes. The main reason why, well the ideological reason for that, is because the Hispanic electorate is actually one of the youngest electorates. If you look within the Latino communities, most of them are still in school. Most of the Latinos in the states that really matter, the southwest, they’re still in school. This demographic change is just in its infancy that the curve is actually going to have more effect on 2020 and the years after. Whereas the Republican base is older, set 65 plus white male. That’s a strong base of Republicans and sadly to say they’re dying off. So, the way you communicate with these both different demographics is completely different. The one that’s completely opposite to the other. So those Latino Republicans who are in the party find themselves disenfranchised by the President. But some of them may find the President’s rhetoric or positions to be okay with them, but you’re going to find that those Latinos are probably the older generation Latinos. The newer generation Latinos do not subscribe to Donald Trump’s positions.
Luke Scorziell: So what can the Republican party do to reach out to those younger Latino voters?
Luis Alvarado: I think at a national level there has to be first an understanding of who it is that they are, what are the needs that they’re going to be facing as Americans. Because the big misconception in this country is these Latinos are foreign. You use the word Latino, you automatically think foreign. Well, you don’t belong here. You’re not part of us. You’re usurping this country. And the constitution says that if you’re born in this country, you’re in American, but most important, besides what the constitution says is if you ask any Latino, especially a young Latino who was born here, raised here, they don’t even speak Spanish. They are Americans. They are the future of this country, and if we can’t find a way to bridge the next generation of professionals, of workers, of elected officials that are going to lead this country in this global economy.
If you can’t present that argument, you’re not going to have a chance of captivating their attention. So I ask Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, to really pay attention to the next generation of voters. Understand what their challenges and opportunities are going to be. Then try to bridge, try to map a way of communicating that it’s going to be inclusive as opposed to exclusive and ensuring that they have a first of all, have a responsibility to be apart of this country and second to contribute. You know, we all remember JFK’s speech, you know, it’s not what this country can do for you, but when you can do for this country, and that’s the same kind of speech maybe more often than different verbiage. That’s exactly the same sentiment that has to be conveyed to this next generation of American voters from both parties, and I invite both parties to really consciously look at the next generation and ensure that they have an investment effort in helping them out.
Luke Scorziell: Would you say that some of the Republican language on immigration then, in regards to building the wall, I mean a lot of this is coming from Trump obviously, but I think the Republican Party has become kind of representative of those ideologies. Do you think that’s part of the language that’s exclusive to Latino and Hispanic voters that you’re talking about? Or can Republicans both simultaneously support strong immigration reform while still garnering that vote? How do they both?
Luis Alvarado: Well, let’s talk about “the wall,” what it represents, I think for different demographics that means completely different things. For those of us who do believe that the United States of America is a sovereign nation and has the responsibility to protect the citizens and ensure that the government, specifically the federal government defense against foreign invaders. Yes, we need to have a strong border security program. Yet for many, what they actually hear, especially in my Latino community, is that the wall is being used as an excuse, in conjunction with other rhetoric that is clearly marked to say once again, like I said at the beginning, “Hey, you’re a foreigner. You don’t belong here. You don’t deserve to vote. You don’t deserve to be considered a citizen of this country.” So basically it becomes a racial hatred or a racial fearedness that leads to separation between both entities.
And that’s where Latinos feel that they are personally being persecuted. So it’s not the issue specifically of the wall as in a security of the nation. It’s specifically wall as in, “We don’t want you guys here.” And that’s what makes Latinos feel unwelcome in the Republican Party. I mean to support that many people would say, well, where’s your proof? And that reality is because the consensus that’s after that is, “Well, we need to change the Constitution to stop these anchor babies from being US citizens.” You can’t get more direct that with regards to we don’t need you guys. We don’t need your kind here.
Luke Scorziell: Yeah. And many were shocked by that language coming from the President just days before the midterm elections. And I guess we’ll have to leave that one, but–
Luis Alvarado: Well, you’ve got to remember he’s talking to that Appalachian Coal Miner. Hey, that’s music to his ears because they feel that their jobs are being taken by somebody who’s in this country, when in reality, he doesn’t understand that his job is actually taken by somebody out there in China, who’s actually creating a product on a much lesser cost than the one that he or she is producing here in the US.
Luke Scorziell: I would like to talk about California too and what happened here. I wish I wish I could say I, for you, that it was better, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t better I guess is the short answer. California Republicans lost seven seats in the United States Congress. They lost five seats in the California State Assembly, where they now control just 19 of the 80 seats in the chamber. And they lost three seats in the State Senate.
Luis Alvarado: In the words of President Obama, “We got a shellacking in California.” I think everybody was talking about the blue wave and there wasn’t a blue wave, a tsunami, it was a trickle, but that trickle was strong and long. And there were a lot of things that happened in California that made California particularly vulnerable for Republicans to the democratic strategies. I can talk about some of the tactics and dynamics and strategies that were used. Ultimately, it was the push of Donald Trump in California. You look at the combination of, once again, demographics in California and major Latino population, I think the largest population of Latinos is in California. You look at some things that the Democrats had done. Now all of a sudden everybody’s talking about ballot harvesting. Ballot harvesting is a law that was made legal in California a few months ago.
I run campaigns and I knew it was out there. Thankfully for my candidates, I didn’t need to do it, but I knew it was an option for me and if I needed to use it, I was going to use it. But I won five out of my six races, and the six one that didn’t make it ballot harvesting would not have helped, but Democrats used it wisely. They registered more people knowing that the greater majority of students that are turning voting age are Latinos. They’re pretty smart. They did a pre-voter registration. So now if you’re like 17 years old, you can pre-register. So by the time your birthday rolls around, you’re already registered. They don’t have to go chase you down. That means there’s more people available and more excited about coming out to vote.
The third thing they did is they just automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That was very controversial because at one point it was discovered that some undocumented people or people who are not eligible to vote, were automatically enrolled and registered and vote. And I’m talking about a few thousand people and I think Alex Padilla, our State Secretary of State is trying to deal with that storm right now. But I don’t think a few thousand people made a difference in California when millions actually came out to vote.
That was definitely a Donald Trump calamity for California. I know there were some fine Republicans who were actually quite moderate and actually anti-Trump, in many fashions, that were also swept by that big wave. There were some other seats that were affected as well, regardless of not even being a partisan race. In Los Angeles County, our Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who was a great sheriff endorsed by many Democrats, suffered and lost to a Latino, in my opinion an unqualified sheriff, because he was a Latino and LA County is majority Latino now. Latinos came out to vote to castigate those that they felt were not going to be representing Latino interests.
Luke Scorziell: 34 percent of California’s population actually is Latino, and 21 percent of those most likely to vote in California are Latino as well. The majority, again, of them are registered Democrats. So what do you think the stage looks like in California versus the national level? I mean, this election, it was already bad for Republicans in California, like it wasn’t like there were seats that they could afford to lose. They lost a lot of what they had and now it’s even smaller, their parties in the State Senate and Assembly and in the US House. So is there any future for Republicans in California? Is this just going to become the totally blue state and all the Republicans are leaving to places like Texas, maybe Arizona, and other more conservative states. What’s your take?
Luis Alvarado: The last podcast I was invited to, we had this discussion with a fellow Republican consultant, named Mike Madrid, who in my understanding is going to be a professor at USC next semester. And he was like, “Hey, let’s just burn it down and start all over again.”
And I’m saying, no, there’s some redeemable qualities by great people who are still part of the party. There is no doubt we need to take a true cold evaluation of what happened and understand. Our own party chair, former senator Jim Brulte, came out and said, “California is the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the nation for Republicans.” If we don’t actually pay attention to what happened in California, this is a prescription for the rest of California’s starting with the rest of the southwest.
So there is no question the Republican Party has to reinvent itself before we start talking about rebranding itself. I’m looking forward to working with some great people to make that happen. We have an election in February for the California Republican Party, with regards to selecting the next chairman. Jim Brulte has been there for six years. There are some that completely are dissatisfied with his performance. There are some that say, “Hey, it wasn’t his fault. His hands were tied”
So there’s going to be a great challenge for the next chair and the next leadership committee and I think that we’re gonna have some sobering conversations. There’s going to be at one point some poignant arguments on where we actually need to go because there are those that are proposing that we just don’t double down, but triple down with Donald Trump’s a view of what the Republican Party is. And they think that is actually what’s going to make the party grow. And I completely don’t agree with that position. We have to be more inclusive. Politics is about inclusion, not subtraction.
Luke Scorziell: This is a big problem in California, regarding what Trump is saying. You have the migrant caravan and that’s coming up at the California border and a lot of these other immigration issues are happening here in California and other states as well. But it’s an issue I think that, that divides people, um, Republicans and not here. So do you think California is Republicans, the ones that are left, are more moderate than on the national stage? It would seem like it. I mean you had Orange County, that was the last Republican area in California totally switch.
Luis Alvarado: Well, we’re definitely more moderate. It’s California for God’s sake. I mean if you compare a California Republican to a Montana Republican, there’s going to be a world of difference between what the ideology of what they see is important for the nation to move forward. Let’s be clear, political parties are built for one thing, select candidates, a propel candidates, fund candidates, and then get them elected. That’s the job of the political party. Then after they get elected, then it’s up to the party to help guide them when it comes to policy. But truly it’s the leader’s position to take the party afterwards. And right now the head of the party is Donald Trump. And when it’s Donald Trump and all the challenges that Donald Trump is facing, that’s going to reverberate on how the elections are.
When Barack Obama won his election, there was historical, but once his policies were taking effect and the Democrat party started to align with how far left the pendulum was being driven by the administration of Barack Obama the nation responded and gave him his shellacking on the midterms.
So we know that the pendulum swings both ways. And right now we’re quite divided in our nation. We’re truly engaged. Electioneering is going nonstop between one election to the next election cycle and at one point it’s going to be up to some strong leadership to say, “Hey, enough is enough. Let’s bring the temperature down.” But I don’t see it in the foreseeable future. I think for the next two years, the Republican Party is going to continue to suffer consequences because it’s unavoidable. The President will still be President.
I think after 2020 that we’re going to have a national revival to see how us Republicans are going to be able to respond and to present a coherent message to the American people. Hopefully California starts the process, and we do have some kind of a revival here in California that may one day serve as a blueprint for the rest of the Republican party at a national level. But that is still yet to be seen and I’m hoping, I’m hopeful. I’m more of a glass half full glass half empty kind of guy.
Luke Scorziell: Definitely. It seems like Republicans really have two options now: either focus on themselves and rebranding themselves, building up a new party and then rebranding, or take the alternative route and say, “Hey, look at what all these Democrats are doing. Do you really want more of that in our country?” So it’s either they work on themselves or they go attack the other guy and see how that works, or maybe even a combination of both. So which of these strategies do you think would work best?
Luis Alvarado: A combination of both. You touched on two points that I wanted to bring up earlier. The first one is when you come to both political parties, you got to see how their donor base is structured and they’re completely separate. The Democrat party is really small-donation based. They really have the Democrat base conditioned to contribute so they can propel their policies and ideas. The Republican Party is very, very exclusive with regards to their donor base, and those people who usually donate to the Republican party are, once again, male Caucasian, over 70 years old who have done very well. They dictate how they want to see this party. And a lot of them are very nostalgic about how this country has changed and are okay with the rhetoric that we hear from the President. If those donors continue to be the ones that dictate, then we’re not going to see any major changes in our party in that any time soon.
And that’s where I think the party needs to reinvent itself to actually find a way to disengage themselves from those multi-billionaires who are always the ones that everybody that goes to asking for the big bucks. The second thing is the advantage that we have or the opportunity for the party is, at least specifically here in California, is that Democrats own everything. If they own everything, they control everything, that means when things actually go bad they can’t blame Republicans. There’s just no way. When they could have a supermajority in the assembly, a supermajority in the Senate and they control the Governor’s office. And right now they have a surplus. Two years from now that surplus disappears and they started raising taxes.
I just read this morning that Democrats are proposing raising taxes on texting. So if you text on your phone, guess what they want a piece of that. They’re going to try to figure out how to raise taxes because even though they tell us that they have a surplus of a few billion dollars, and that’s because Jerry Brown was a little bit conservative and fiscally responsible, we know that Gavin Newsom is not. We know that he’s going to try to raise taxes. He made promises to unions that I don’t think he can write the check with. And we’re all forgetting that California also has a very large pension liability that nobody’s talking about. It’s the big black cloud over California. So in the next few years, if Democrats completely make a mess out of California, if they start taxing citizens to death, if people start losing jobs, then I think Californians are going to want an alternative. It’s up to Republicans to be the ones that build up that alternative, or it may even be an opportunity for a third-party or independent movement to actually start taking shape. Some of the states have independents that are the leaders of those states and maybe that is the future, not just for California, but other states.
Luke Scorziell: I think it’s interesting, on your first point, you brought up the California donor base and contrasted it with the Democratic base. You see Democrats like Bernie Sanders in 2016, Beto O’Rourke in 2018. They had these massive kind of grassroots campaigns that really brought together a lot of people. And that’s where they got the majority of their funds from. Now that’s not to say that Democrats aren’t getting money from huge wealthy donors. I mean, Hillary Clinton’s campaign I think was a good example of that.
Luis Alvarado: Yeah. They still have the George Soros out there.
Luke Scorziell: And I think a lot of the Silicon valley billionaires are doing their own thing with their party. But how can Republicans really reach that kind of grassroots level? Because then on your second point, the Democrats fail. Okay, but still up the Republicans, like you’re saying, to build this alternative and not only build the alternative, but communicate the alternative as being better for the state. It’s not just the Democrats fail, it’s that Republicans or this third-party or another party say, “Look, we’re better. This is how that’s wrong and going down.”
And then get people from the Democrats because right now it seems like all the Democrats in California are really scared of the ‘R’ behind someone’s name, that they’re Republican or that they’re not a Democrat because the Republicans are the so-called Party of racists and terrible, terrible people who just want to take all, take all the money for themselves, but they’re not seen as like this kind party that’s actually an alternative to Democrats. So I guess the question here is how to Republicans effectively communicate that they are the better party?
Luis Alvarado: Well, it’s like a chicken and an egg kind of thing. One depends on the other, but I think if you have a charismatic leader that he or she is going to have to start doing both at the same time. Harvesting a new donor base or educating the current donor base and ensuring that when they restructured and rebrand the Republican Party, it actually is something that donors are going to feel confident and proud of being part of. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that the next party chair is actually someone who was just a fire-breathing Trump supporter who was just spilling hatred to everything Democrats. No donor base wants to be attached to that because then you become a target just like that part party leader is. And then you’re not going to be building the party. You’re going to be diminishing it even more.
The second thing is for Republicans that actually are trying to serve their communities. They’re going to have to work twice as hard to prove– they’re gonna have to disengage the brand that they have. And unfortunately that’s, that’s gonna. See, it’s gonna be every. I had this conversation last night. In one of my races the candidate was being sworn in. And I ran into one of my other previous clients, an elected official, a Republican, who said, “Luis, I’m actually looking at a higher office, and I’m going to consider taking the Republican brand off. And re-registering as a Democrat.” And because his constituents are asking him to do it and if that’s going to allow, in this case, him to be successful as an elected official in doing what’s right for his neighborhood or his community, then that’s what he’s that’s what he’s going to do. And, and, and I can’t blame him for that because that’s what the political landscape has become.
When the party abandons you and moves away from your principles. I’m not a Trump supporter. I don’t know if you could tell that, but I’m not a Trump supporter. I was against his policies or his rhetoric from the second he went down the elevator and gave that speech. But, for me, there’s some things in this administration that are, that are actually okay, but the rhetoric just takes away from that. Instead of talking about things that are actually working in this new administration, everything is focused on the individual. And that’s very sad, very sad. Not just for me as a Republican, but for the nation as a whole. So I think it’s going to be two years of more circus politics. I think it’s going to be up to the elected officials to really work to connect with their constituents so they can protect themselves from any blowback.
Regardless if you’re a Democrat or Republican, because likewise, if you’re a Democrat in California, or some other states, and your party starts going ultra-progressive, and you’re a moderate Democrat, guess what, you’re going to be branded as the establishment and they’re going to come after you as a Democrat as well. In California the largest, fastest growing political identity is that of the no party preference. There are more no party preference registered voters in California and there are Republicans. Democrats are losing a lot of other Democrats to the no party preference because they just don’t want to be associated with either party. And that’s very unfortunate for a nation because then what happens is we deplete the good leaders from actually feeling confident to step up to the plate. The hardest thing to do is to find good people who actually should be leading our nation, our cities, our municipalities, our school districts, but they feel that the political atmosphere is so vital that they’d just rather not deal with it. And that hurts everybody at the end of the day.
Luke Scorziell: Well, I think it’s interesting that you bring up this polarization of each party. I don’t know if it’s happening in California totally with the Republicans, because I don’t know how far to the right you can go, but certainly with the Democrats. I mean, Gavin Newsom is a new level of progressive. You see the same thing on the national stage. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez was elected in New York. I know people talk about her a lot. She’s kind of a buzzword around Republican circles, but she is kind of representative of this new class of Democrat that says they’re not accountable to the party. And they’re kind of willing to go as far to the left as they need to institute some of these policies. So back in California, it seems if Republicans decide to really become the party of the moderate or the party to those with no party. Then maybe they really could make a big difference in these upcoming elections in years. Because I don’t know that everyone really wants these far left policies as much as they don’t want the far right policies. I think people are fairly reasonable when it comes down to it.
Luis Alvarado: Yeah. But you need the money to be able to propel your message. Like I tell my candidates, you can be the smartest, most genuine, best qualified candidate for a job, but if your opponent has more dollars then it’s not what you are but how the opposition defines you. So they spend money to say you’re a scum bag then to the voter, the only thing they know is that you’re a scumbag. Because they never get it. Sometimes you can’t go meet 20,000 people in your district, right? So you have to utilize communication techniques and tools to actually propel your message and identify yourself with the voters. And money is a very important component. That’s where the political parties have been a big part of that.
The other thing we haven’t talked about is independent expenditures and Citizens United. Both political parties have suffered greatly because those donor bases that were just so upset because the party wasn’t doing exactly what they wanted them to do because it was up to the leadership of the party to modulate how those donor bases were actually going to have their dollars were actually going to reach the voter. They now have the chance to say, “Forget you. I’ll just get four staff members, a consultant, a fundraiser, and the lawyer and I’ll go and I’ll spell my own voice.”
You see Tom Steyer going out there to the detriment of the Democrat leadership on his own parade, on his own train, and on his own dime talking to the Democrat voters. And sometimes it’s not coordinated with what the party actually wants. Likewise here with the Republican parties, sometimes you have the extreme right advocating for one issue that may help Republicans at a national level but really hurts Republicans who are moderates and actually come out to vote like we just saw in the last election.
Luke Scorziell: Maybe that’s the strategy for Republicans, to leave this party mentality. And if the party is doing an ineffective job, which it almost certainly sounds like they are in California, then say, “Hey, I’m going to go do my own thing, raise my own money and reach my own voters.” Do you think that’s just a way to get more radical?
Luis Alvarado: It could be, but it takes a lot of work and effort. It’s not that something you do from one cycle to the other. You need to cultivate that. But I’m confident that the Republican Party, at least in California, is hopefully going to find some sense in finding the right candidate that’s going to be able to moderate the message and have enough separation from Washington, DC, and the National Party messaging, that actually can talk and connect with California. California as a whole and actually propel and help some of the Californians get elected back in and to take some of those seats, some of those positions. So we’ll see. I’m very confident about that.
Luke Scorziell: Well, kind of getting to the end here, I would like to talk a tiny bit about the candidates that you helped through the selection and what some of the strategies you did. You mentioned you had five candidates win out of your six candidates. Can you just tell us a little bit about how that round of elections went for you?
Luis Alvarado: Well, surprisingly, because it’s a municipal election, I helped a Democratic get elected, but because this Democratic works with my other Republican candidate and they both representing a district. They see eye to eye, so he was a moderate Democrat, and I chose to help that. I also run the political action committee, called Truth and Dignity Municipal Leadership here in California. And through that PAC we targeted and helped–We helped the wrong person get dis-elected which opened the way for the right person to be elected. And one of the things that I tell the candidates that I do run necessarily general consultant, is they have to stick to fundamentals. If you’re going to build a house, you need to have a good foundation. And, and it goes with basic campaign strategies: ensuring that you identify what your message is; ensuring that the candidate is going to be proficient in identifying and propelling their message; good targeting, understanding who your electorate is; getting good communication tools that actually connect where the electorate is looking at their information.
There are some old-time consultants who still have old methodologies that are probably not as effective as they were 20 years ago. I’m talking about slate mail. Most of my efforts are put in social media. I do Facebook campaigns. I do video campaigns for my candidates because that allows them to connect better with our targeted audience and allows them to put their message in front of the voters. And we’ve been very effective in doing that. My candidates were underfunded they faced incumbents, which is an additional level of difficulty. And they were all successful because they were the right candidate that represented the right message for the electorate, and they were able to convince them that their views and their policies and the way they do business, was going to be better for that specific community that we’re going to represent. Those are the things that we looked at.
And in the last primary, I also ran a candidate for the Attorney General at the statewide level. And he passed onto the general election, but then I removed myself from that campaign. He lost, but he had a good showing. So those are the things that we’re looking at. Now how do we communicate with the electorate? It’s going to sound ridiculously silly, but you start with, “How do we make sure that people know that you’re a sane person?” Because there are many people running for office, you run across and you go, “What? What in the world were you thinking that you actually have a message that is going to be represented as something.” You hear stuff like, people want to break up the state into like 30 different little states and things that are just not going to happen.
So I start with some basic fundamentals. Work yourself out. If you work in the municipal office, you have to walk. You have to walk your districts. I told one of my guys, he go, he asked me, “Well, what do you got to do to win?” He asked me, “How much money do I have to spend to win?” And I said, “Money? It’s not about money, you go knock on a thousand doors and you’re going to win. We’re going to do the other stuff, but you got to knock on a thousand doors.” And we were all spent three-to-one in that race and he won. So it’s fundamentals.
Luke Scorziell: It all starts at the local level. So if you’re getting more conservatives elected at the municipal level, who knows? Do you think that would translate into maybe more offices at the statewide level?
Luis Alvarado: Yes. Because what happens is if you actually get to know your electorate for the deeds that you do and the work ethic that you present to the voters, then you have a better chance of convincing them that you’re not associated with whatever happens at a national level.
One of the races that I was involved with is the mayor for the City of San Bernardino, a city that’s been quite challenged financially. And he takes office in about a week, and he has a great amount of challenges. And he’s a Republican, but he won because his work, his voting record, his everything was put out in the open. And he had constant communication with the electorate, not just four years from when he first got elected as City Council Member, but he continued that process. And those are the things you have to do nowadays. You have to make sure you have a strategy to get elected, but then you have to have a strategy to govern, which in turn will convert yourself into a strategy to get reelected.
Luke Scorziell: Awesome. Well, it sounds like there’s a lot of strategies that Republicans could take from listening to this interview. I hope they maybe contact you and we can actually have a decent politics, but thank you so much for coming on the show today. And any last thoughts for our audience?
Luis Alvarado: I want to thank you for putting this podcast together because sometimes people think that all it takes is to actually look at a headline or that 15 minutes of CNN or Fox is going to give you sufficient insight into what’s happening. But you actually have to have an engaged commitment to understanding how the process works so you can truly understand how it’s going to affect you, your family, and your wallet.
So I congratulate you for this podcast. I hope you continue its success and for anybody who’s listening to this podcast and is at the end of it, congratulations. I tip my hat to you for being a true patriot and trying understand how to learn as much as you can so you can be a contributor to this great nation. So thank you. Thank you for the invitation.
Luke Scorziell: Well, thank you. That is what we try to do here. I’m not a big fan of the two-minute radio segments, the two-minute TV segments, the yelling back and forth. We like to go in-depth and really find out what’s going on and learn and find out that we’re all not so different from each other as we seem to think when we just look at the headlines, but thank you. Thank you for coming on. It was an excellent conversation and with that we will see you next time.
*these numbers may have changed since this episode was recorded.
Bills with Luke Scorziell does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice or recommendations. This material is solely intended for educational purposes based on publicly available information and may change at any time. Additionally, this article’s content is a summary of the Interviewee’s comments and, while rephrased by the Author, are not from the Author himself.
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About Luke Scorziell
Mr. Scorziell created The Edge of Ideas when he was 15 years old. After a few years of blogging he found a passion for podcasting and now regularly has guests on his show, Bills with Luke Scorziell. He is currently a journalism student at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for COmmunications and Journalism. Find out more about Luke and his unique journey. Feel free to send Luke a message below.
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