A Decade Later, GOP Defies SBC’s Growing Democratic Numbers

“God looks after fools, drunks and Republicans.”  -Ronald Reagan
By Mark Gutglueck
In the span of a few days in January 1964, Congressman Harry Sheppard deposited a total of $275,000 in twelve different savings institutions in the Washington, D.C./Virginia/Maryland area. Sheppard, a former Santa Fe Railroad executive who was subsequently the president and general manager of the King Beverage Company, had first been elected to Congress representing San Bernardino County in 1936 as a New Deal Democrat, and was reelected to the House of Representatives 13 more times. Along the way, he had proven instrumental in bringing a host of benefits to the district he represented, including the construction of what were then two Army Air Corps bases, which later became Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino and George Air Force Base near Victorville. He grew into a firm and fast member of the Democratic establishment under President Roosevelt and then President Truman, and by the time John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, he held status of as one of the four or five dozen most powerful men in the country.  But hardly two months after the Lyndon Johnson administration had settled into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Sheppard’s faux pas in opening three separate $10,000 accounts – one penny below the threshold for an automatic report to the Internal Revenue Service – in each of eight savings and loan associations and then single deposits of $10,000 into three banks and one more of $5,000 into another bank in and near the nation’s capital brought for the congressman much unwanted scrutiny when it was publicly revealed the following month. In words that would ring hollow, coming as they did from one of the more sophisticated operators in the House of Representatives, Sheppard offered the explanation that the money was his life savings that he had kept as cash in a safe deposit box since his election to Congress nearly 28 years previously. He insisted that he had just gotten around to making preparations to ensure his wife’s future by making those deposits, and that he previously did not have time to manage his investments and didn’t want the income from putting the money into an interest-bearing account because that would have pushed him into a higher tax bracket. Neither the IRS, nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office nor any other authorities took action against Sheppard, but the revelation meant the end of his political career. He did not seek reelection that year, and he left office on January 3, 1965.
Harry Sheppard’s demise knelled the eclipse of the Democratic Party in San Bernardino County. The following year, Ronald Reagan was elected California governor. Republicans took control of San Bernardino County from that point forward.
For the next four decades, the number of registered Republicans in San Bernardino County outran the number of Democrats. With some notable exceptions, those elected to state legislative office, to the board of supervisors, district attorney, sheriff, and to the city councils and to the mayoralties of the cities within the county were by and large Republicans. In 2009, for the first time in 40-plus years, the number of registered Democrats surpassed those registered as Republicans in the county. Remarkably, however, despite the demographics that had swung in favor of the Democrats and more than a few scandals that Republican office holders in San Bernardino County had managed to embroil themselves in during the first decade of the Third Millennium, the GOP continued to dominate San Bernardino County.
Two decades ago, the Golden State as a whole fell into the hands of the Democrats. In the years since, the state has grown increasingly Democratic, such that at present the governor’s mansion is occupied by a Democrat. Further, the attorney general, the insurance commissioner, the secretary of state, the state treasurer, the state controller, the state auditor and the state superintendent of schools are all Democrats, and both houses of the legislature are controlled by Democratic supermajorities.
In neighboring Orange County, what was once presumed impossible has occurred. A quarter of a century ago, all of Orange County’s Congressional representatives were Republicans. Democrats were so few in Orange County that a jocular myth was that a bounty had been put on them there. Today, 25 years on, all seven of Orange County’s Congressional members are Democrats.
San Bernardino County remains, against the odds and against the numbers, one of the few remaining Republican bastions in the state. That the Republicans have been able to keep it so stands as a tribute to its local party members’ collective grit, determination, tenacity, energy, coordination, hard work, cohesiveness, cunning and willingness to defy expectations, convention and even the law to retain their primacy. That the Democrats have remained in the majority of cases shut out of the corridors of power and decision-making in the state’s largest geographical county and fifth largest in terms of population is a manifestation of its local party members’ overall complacency, discord, poor communication, indolence and gullibility.
Despite indications that a level of uncommon discord has crept into the Republican ranks over the last few election cycles and is continuing to manifest, it does not appear that the Democrats, still dealing with the disarray and lack of strategic cohesion within their own sphere, will be able to capitalize this year, in the 2020 election cycle, on the opportunity this is presenting them. Nevertheless, the bitterness rowing out of the nascent divisiveness within the local GOP presages a potential split that irrespective of the feckless nature of the local Democratic Party locally carries with it the prospect that the hold the GOP has exercised for more than a half century in San Bernardino County might eventually attenuate.
In 2010, the first even-numbered election year after the number of registered Democrats in San Bernardino County surpassed the number of registered Republicans, the Republicans remained as the dominant party in the jurisdiction overall. This was not surprising, as at that point the Democratic lead in registered voters was marginal, and Republican voter turnout in San Bernardino County, as it is both statewide and nationwide, is higher than that of Democratic Party-affiliated voters generally, as historically indicated in Gallup polls. Reliable data indicates that in most precincts across the country, 48 to 54 percent of registered Democrats can be counted upon to vote in presidential election years while statistics show that 54 to 64 percent of Republicans cast ballots on average in the same contests, and that in non-presidential election years 35 to 43 percent of Democrats participate in the election process while 42 percent to 53 percent of Republicans show up at the polls or vote by mail in non-presidential contests. Statisticians deem this to be an eight percent advantage to the Republicans.
Following the Democrats taking the lead in the number of registered voters in San Bernardino County in 2009, that trend in their favor has continued essentially consistently thereafter, with the Democratic lead growing steadily over the years. In the ultimate of American races that came thereafter – the 2012 and 2016 contests for U.S. President – the Democratic presidential candidates outperformed their Republican counterparts. In the 2012 presidential race, Barack Obama outdistanced Republican Mitt Romney 305,109 votes or 52.55 percent to 262,358 or 45.19 percent countywide. And again in 2016, Hillary Clinton in San Bernardino County outperformed her Republican rival, Donald Trump, by 340,833 votes or 52.64 percent to 271,240 votes or 41.89 percent. Those two races, along with a very few other notable exceptions, remain as rare showings of Democratic political might in San Bernardino County over the last decade. By 2012, the Democrats had a 7-to-6 advantage in registered voters. By 2014, that advantage had grown to reach a 6-to-5 ratio. By 2016, it was better than a 5-to-4 advantage, and at present it has surpassed a 4-to-3 advantage.
Among the five Congress members representing San Bernardino County at the federal level, one – Paul Cook – is a Republican, and four – Pete Aguilar, Judy Chu, Gil Cisneros and Norma Torres – are Democrats. That is because, however, the districts for several of San Bernardino County’s members of the House of Representatives extend beyond the county boundaries into areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties which are heavily Democratic.  An analysis of the vote in the Congressional races in San Bernardino County going back to 2016 shows that neither Chu nor Cisneros would likely be in office if the determination of who was to represent them in the 27th Congressional District and the 39th Congressional District, respectively, had been left up to San Bernardino County voters alone.
San Bernardino’s state legislative delegation is majority Republican, with three of its five state senators currently Republicans and four of its eight assembly members Republicans. Again, it is because the districts of some of those legislators extend beyond San Bernardino County’s borders that some of those Democratic Party-aligned office holders can claim incumbency. In the State Senate, 25th District Democrat Anthony Portantino would not hold his place in the state’s upper legislative chamber if San Bernardino County voters had their way. And Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden likewise would not be in office if his political fate had been decided by the San Bernardino County voters within State Assembly District 41.
Local elected offices in California are officially considered to be nonpartisan. In San Bernardino County, however, party affiliation is a primary consideration whenever and at whatever level an election is held.
At the most basic level of local governance in the county – among the elected members of the 24 city and town councils and the county board of supervisors – Republicans have remained in  ascendancy. In 17 of the county’s 24 cities, the Republicans hold absolute control.  In two of those cities there is no clear partisan leaning among elected decision-makers. In only five of the county’s 24 cities are there more Democrats on their ultimate decision-making panel than Republicans. Currently on the board of supervisors, four of its five members are Republican. It is at the county and city levels that the most intensive degree of political patronage takes place. Because the Republican Party overwhelmingly controls the county and municipal government, it is at the level of those governmental institutions that the lion’s share of sinecures – highly-paid no work or low work positions – have been doled out to the associates, friends or family members of Republican office holders. From those positions, these political associates have operated to ensure that their Republican associates remain in office.
At present, the most obvious illustration of the degree to which the Republican Party in San Bernardino County has bent the personnel, facilities and equipment of government to political effect lies within the office of current Supervisor Dawn Rowe. Rowe was appointed Third District supervisor by the board in the aftermath of James Ramos’s departure from the board in late 2018 following his election to the state legislature in the 40th Assembly District. Ramos, a Democrat, had originally been elected to the board of supervisors in 2012, and was reelected in 2016. His departure for Sacramento in 2018 thus required that someone be designated as his replacement to serve out the two years remaining on his term.
Ramos’s incumbency on the board of supervisors, together with that of Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales, had resulted in the Democrats having a two-fifths presence on the board. Many felt Ramos would most logically be replaced as Third District supervisor by his deputy chief of staff, Chris Carrillo, who is an attorney and board member with the East Valley Water District and who had applied for the appointment shortly after Ramos’s November 2018 victory. The three Republicans on the four-fifths-strength board at that time – Robert Lovingood, Janice Rutherford and Curt Hagman – were collectively set upon boosting the Republican hold on the county rather than maintaining the previous status quo. In contemplating the field of 48 applicants whose particulars qualified them for consideration, the board completely overlooked Carrillo and 34 others, at least 16 of whom were Democrats, and in one fell swoop dispensed with 35 of the applicants. The board deigned to interview 13 semi-finalist candidates, twelve of whom were Republicans. Those Republicans were Barstow Mayor Julie-Hackbarth-McIntyre; former Third District Supervisor Dennis Hansberger; Republican Congressional Candidate Sean Flynn; Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes Rigsby; Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Jan Leja; Current Big Bear City Councilman/former Chino City Councilman Bill Jahn; former Yucca Valley Councilwoman and then-current Congressional staffer Dawn Rowe; former State Senator/Assemblyman-turned-lobbyist Bill Emmerson; former San Bernardino Councilman Tobin Brinker; former Twentynine Palms Mayor James Bagley; and former Westlake Village Mayor Chris Mann. The panel also considered a single token Democrat, Loma Linda Councilman Ron Dailey. In short order, the board reduced the field of 13 to a field of five – Emmerson, Flynn, Jahn, Rigsby and Rowe – and publicly reinterviewed them, while acceding to a request by Supervisor Gonzales at that point that Carrillo be heard from as well. After observing the nicety of hearing from Carrillo, Emmerson, Flynn, Jahn, Rigsby and Rowe, the board, led by Lovingood and Rutherford, at once set about what was essentially its preordained path of confirming Rowe to the position.
Upon taking office, Rowe, who had until right up to the time of her appointment as supervisor been a field representative in the office of Republican Congressman Paul Cook, hired as her chief of staff Matt Knox, who had likewise worked for Cook, and Dillon Lesovsky, another former Cook staffer, as her policy advisor, along with Suzette Swallow, who was active in electioneering efforts on behalf of Republican candidates, as her communications director. Word has emanated from the fifth floor of the county’s administrative building in downtown San Bernardino that Knox, Lesovsky and Swallow were put in place to ensure her election in 2020, as well as to work on behalf of other Republican candidates in the same election cycle, specifically, 33rd District Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, who is now seeking to succeed Paul Cook as Congressman in California’s 8th District, Cook, who is now running to replace Lovingood as San Bernardino County’s 1st District supervisor following Lovingood’s decision to leave office; and former Hesperia Councilman Thurston Smith in his race to succeed Obernolte as Assemblyman in the 33rd District.
Mystery remains, nonetheless, why the Democrats, who have widened their overall registration lead over the Democrats to an unprecedented level and now lead the Republicans in voter registration in four of the five county supervisorial districts by margins ranging from the seemingly insurmountable to just under one percent, have been willing to cede political control of the county to the GOP.
By any rational mathematical analysis, that the Republicans have not been reduced to also-rans is baffling.
As of this week, the county of some 2.2 million population, had 1,024,297 of its citizens registered to vote. Of those, 410,430 or 40.1 percent are Democrats. At the same time,  297,804 or 29.1 percent are registered as Republicans. Those who express no party preference whatsoever number a whopping 244,808 or 23.9, not far behind the Republicans. The next-most-numerous affiliation is that of the American  Independent Party, with 39,681 in its ranks within the county, accounting for 3.9 percent of the electorate. Libertarians number 9,087, equal to 0.9 percent. The Peace and Freedom Party has 6,060 members for 0.6 percent. The Green Party boasts 3,224 members countywide, amounting to 0.3 percent of the total. A handful of other more obscure parties account for the 13,203 loyalists, filling out the remaining 1.3 percent of the county’s voters.
The county’s five subjurisdictions are the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth districts, which were drawn up in 2011 prior to the 2012 election, and were intended to each embody as closely as was possible one-fifth of the county’s then-2,035,210 population as was ascertained in the 2010 census.
The Republicans are intent on maintaining, at the very least, their 4-to-1 advantage on the county board of supervisors, and have been emboldened to the point that they are making a serious effort to capture the county’s Fifth District supervisorial seat for one of their own, despite the seemingly overwhelming registration advantage the Democrats hold there.
In this year’s race, to be held on March 3 in correspondence with California’s Presidential Primary, Rowe appears to be on track to retain the position in the Third District she was appointed to in 2018. She is running against four others on March 3, all of whom are Democrats – Redlands City Councilman Eddie Tejeda; Kaisar Ahmed, who previously ran for Redlands City Council in 2016 and for Congress in the 31st Congressional District in 2018; Karen Ickes, a human services manager; and Latron Lester, a minister from Barstow. Since last year, Rowe has has collected $214,235.03 into her electioneering fund, which is more than 21 times as much as the $10,175 in the combined campaign war chests of Lester, Ickes, Ahmed and Tejada. In addition, Business Leaders For Ethical Government To Support Dawn Rowe For Supervisor, an entity separate from Rowe’s campaign, is standing by, ready to put up more than $100,000 to assist Rowe in her election effort in November if she is not able to capture fifty percent plus one vote on March 3 to avoid a run-off.
In the county’s First District, the incumbent Republican Lovingood has endorsed another Republican, incumbent 8th Congressional District Congressman Paul Cook to succeed him in the post. Cook is up against three Democrats – Marcelino “Chico” Garza, and Victorville City Councilwoman Rita Ramirez and  Adelanto City Councilwoman Stevevonna Evans. Cook this year and last collected $338,567 to fuel his campaign. Evans’ total contributions to be used toward her run are $5,623.20. Evans is active in the Democratic Party. Ramirez, who is active in the Democratic Party as well, has no funding whatsoever. Garza has no money, either.
In the Fifth District, Dan Flores, who is Supervisor Gonzales’s chief of staff and a board member with the Colton Joint Unified School District, was Gonzales’s choice to succeed her, as she is now termed out after having served four four-year terms. Flores, a Democrat, seemed to have the inside track in that race, as he has to date accumulated in total $292,016.39 for his board run, including a $15,000 loan to himself. He faces a challenge by another Democrat, Rialto Councilman Joe Baca, Jr., who has a been campaigning on a more modest budget of $110,743. Into that mix is Nadia Renner, who has no party affiliation and $19,100 in contributions. Closing out the field is a Republican, Fontana City Councilman Jesse Armendarez. Armendarez’s candidacy in the heavily Democratic and equally heavy Hispanic district is not a token showing of the Republican flag, however. He has matched Flores dollar for dollar, and then gone $283.47 better than that, having collected $292,299.86 for his campaign, including a $56,076.83 loan to himself. While the race remains Flores’s to lose, Armendarez presents a serious challenge. First, he enjoys somewhat wider name recognition as a city councilman in 214,000-population Fontana as opposed to Flores, whose claim to fame consists of his position on the school board in Colton, which has slightly more than one-fourth the population of Fontana at 55,000. And Armendarez is part of the political machine run by Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, a Republican herself. Despite numbers that ostensibly favor the Democrats in Fontana, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 45,056 or 48.6 percent to 17,064 or 18.4 percent, Warren managed to get herself elected to the city council twice, in 2004 and 2008, and has been elected and reelected mayor there in 2010, 2014 and 2018. In addition, she has played a major role in persuading the city’s voters to elect Armendarez and two other Republicans to join her on the city council.
Symptomatic of the Democrats’ dilemma in San Bernardino County is their lack of cohesion. In all three of this year’s board of supervisors races, multiple Democrats are vying against one another as well as the single Republican in the race. This has the effect of not only splitting the Democratic vote in the primary race, but requiring that the Democrats singly and collectively expend their money in what is possibly or even likely to be a first indecisive contest, depleting their already limited resources for the run-off between the two top finishers, giving the better-funded Republicans an overall strategic advantage. The Democrats, unlike the Republicans in many cases, seem to be constitutionally incapable of coming to an early conclusion as to which of its people are to bear the party’s standard, and then hitching up all of their horses to the same side of the wagon to pull it over the finish line first. Given that the Democrats are further hampered by a collective indifference that extends to their reluctance to make personal donations to the party and an unreliability when it comes to simply turning out to vote on election day or to obtain, fill out and send mail-in ballots, their party in local races perennially runs behind the Republicans, who take politics far more seriously, or so it seems.
The Democrats may also suffer from a much deeper and insidious problem. Some within their ranks believe, and there is evidence to suggest, that a Republican Party operative has not only wormed his way into the party’s machinery, but has clandestinely commandeered it.
Since 2012, Chris Robles has been the chairman of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee. Ostensibly, putting Robles into that role was a shrewd move, as Robles is by profession a political consultant. Giving him control over the party machinery and its fundraising functions was intended to benefit Democratic candidates at all levels within the far-flung 20,105-square mile county, the largest in the lower 48 states, covering a land area larger than New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Some believed and others hoped that Robles would so thoroughly commit himself to the party and its fortunes that it would be as if the Democrats were tapping into political and electioneering expertise worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollars per election cycle.
Robles’ tenure as county party chairman has corresponded with the Democrats’ acceleration past the Republicans in terms of voter registration in San Bernardino County, an advantage that could and probably should have resulted in the Democratic Party supplanting the GOP as the irresistible force at virtually every level of local government in the county. That transition never occurred, and the county’s Democratic candidates have consistently faltered at the polls while their party within the county likewise continues to founder.
That the party’s performance in San Bernardino County has continued to lag dramatically behind its numerical superiority has not gone unremarked, both inside and outside of the party. That Robles, like the party, was not living up to expectations was realized more than five years ago. Some expressed disappointment in him, noting that he presided over a local party structure that did some obligatory orientation and basic support work on the part of its candidates, but that the organization’s coordinated strategy was nonexistent or lackluster at best. Moreover, it was observed, Robles would, after a minimal and barebones consultation with candidates, press on them one of his cards, suggesting that he could be of more assistance to them if they were to hire him to serve as their campaign consultant. This grated on some members of the party, who believed Robles was using his position to advance his consulting business and was more interested in making money for himself than fundraising for candidates or guiding them toward victory.
In 2017, there was an uprising in the central committee as a core group moved to oust him as chairman, citing what they said were irregularities with regard to the stewardship of party funds and Robles’ work as a consultant on the part of some Republican candidates. A significant contingent of the central committee at one of its meetings managed to call the question to depose him, prevailing in the vote.  Robles, however, was able, after the fact, to undo what had occurred through the use of a parliamentary challenge to the voting procedure removing him.
The one arena of political action in which Robles demonstrated his mastery was that relating to control of the central committee. Well before the vote to relieve him as chairman had manifested, he had installed a group of his loyalists in the executive roles within the central committee, and when the revolt came, he called upon those on whom he had bestowed party positions and perquisites to rally to sustain him.
More than a decade after the Democrats pushed past the Republicans in terms of voter numbers, it is becoming clear that there is something amiss with Robles’ leadership and that what is happening goes beyond mere indolence or incompetence, and rather quite possibly involves perfidy. Indeed the suspicion is that Robles, from his vaunted position of control over the Democratic machinery, is militating on behalf of the Republicans and outright sabotaging Democratic candidates.
Evidence supporting that consists in the strategy Robles formulated and had the party carry out with regard to certain elections, particularly some seemingly hard fought ones in which much was at stake and the Democrats had what appeared to be a good chance of winning. A case-in-point was the contest between then-incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Gloria Negrete-McLeod and then-incumbent Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman for Fourth District county supervisor in 2014 and their rematch in 2018. In the first contest, Negrete-McLeod seemed to hold an advantage, as she enjoyed name recognition as good or better than Hagman, was running in a district in which the Democrats had a solid voter registration lead, and had fundraising capability equal to or greater than her opponent given her status of being a national political presence. Yet Negrete-McLeod lost that contest by a relatively thin margin. Four years later, Negrete-McLeod had lost the advantage of incumbency she had in 2014 and Hagman had the advantage of running as an incumbent, but that was in some fashion offset by the consideration that the voter registration numbers in favor of the Democrats had increased even further. One major misstep in the orchestration of Negrete-McLeod’s campaign that was made in 2014 and repeated in 2018 was utilizing a significant portion of Negrete-McLeod’s and the party’s campaign money to send out mailers targeting high-propensity Democratic voters in the district. Such a strategy ignored the consideration that high propensity voters, meaning those voters with a solid history of turning out to vote, were likely to vote anyway, and given their Democratic affiliation and awareness, were almost assuredly going to vote for the well-known Democrat Negrete-McLeod rather than the well-known Republican Hagman. A more prudent and effective use of that money would have been to expend it on mailers to Democratic voters less likely to vote in an effort to drive them to the polls or use those resources on a mailer campaign targeting high propensity voters with no party affiliation. That Robles, a seasoned political professional, would engage in such a strategy suggests he was not campaigning in earnest for Negrete-McLeod but rather squandering, very likely purposefully, her electioneering assets.
More recently, there have been questions about Robles’ failure to act to stem the Republicans’ use of the political team employed within Rowe’s supervisorial office – Matt Knox, Dillon Lesovsky and Suzette Swallow – as such use of government personnel utilizing governmental assets and functioning from a governmental office for partisan political purposes is illegal. Given Robles’ position as the county party chairman, a phone call, letter or email from him to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, would likely complicate things for the Republican political team in San Bernardino County.
The Sentinel made numerous phone calls to Robles on both his cellphone and the central committee’s phone line, leaving messages requesting from him a response on the issues relating to the party’s poor performance in San Bernardino County and the suspicions he is acting clandestinely in support of the Republicans. The Sentinel sent him an email covering the same ground and requesting his response. Robles spurned those requests.
At present, the Republicans are riding high in San Bernardino County and are very likely to perpetuate their political hold on the county and its governmental institutions in this year’s election cycle and retain that power most certainly until 2022 and very likely until 2024 and perhaps beyond. Still, if the voter registration numbers continue to trend in the direction of the Democrats as they have for the last two decades, the mathematical reality is the Republican hold on the county will slacken to the point that the GOP will lose its grip here, if not entirely, then substantially.
There are already signs that the dissension and lack of cohesiveness that have plagued the Democrats for so long have to a lesser degree made an appearance within the San Bernardino County Republican Party and have begun a slow, incremental dissolution of the Republicans’ enviable San Bernardino County political machine.
In 2013, while he was yet in the California Assembly, Curt Hagman moved to depose Robert Rego as chairman of the Republican Central Committee and establish himself in that role, despite the more-than-competent job Rego had been carrying out in ensuring the party was well-fixed financially and on a footing to run effective campaigns on behalf of the party’s candidates countywide. Hagman, who was termed out from the Assembly as of 2014, was at that time intent on keeping his political career moving, and simultaneous to his ouster of Rego, he announced his candidacy in the Fourth Supervisorial District, despite the consideration that the post he coveted was held by another Republican, Gary Ovitt. It was Hagman’s perception, which turned out to be accurate, that he would be able to use his control over the county party’s political machinery and its funding to orchestrate an effective and successful campaign for supervisor. As it turned out, both Rego and Ovitt went out quietly, acquiescing to Hagman’s ambition. Nevertheless, Hagman’s aggressive promotion of himself in lieu of maintaining party stability, has had subtle repercussions, the full effect of which have yet to completely manifest. Hagman’s 2013-14 power move entailed drawing to his side other political climbers such as Jeremiah Brosowske, the then-23-year-old Republican wunderkind who since that time vaulted into the position of councilman in Hesperia before he alienated other Republican officeholders and then imploded last year, culminating with his Republican colleagues removing Brosowske from office. Hagman’s precedent of putting himself and his political fortunes in front of the party has served as an example and touched off a round of similar jockeying among local Republicans, creating rival factions within the party which heretofore did not exist and that, while yet to reach a critical mass, threaten the cohesion that has made the local party so successful for the last half century. Numerous examples abound. Marc Steinorth, a Republican whose meteoric rise to the California Statehouse was one of the most impressive in memory, went to war in 2018 with Supervisor Janice Rutherford, who had previously endorsed him in his successful campaigns and whom he had previously endorsed, in an effort to unseat her. After Rutherford, bruised but unbowed, prevailed in that contest, Steinorth found himself in another race against a different active Republican, Ryan Hutchison, in an ultimately unsuccessful match to return himself to the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, from which he had launched his political career. That contest had involved Brosowski, who had once assisted Steinorth in his initial successful run for the Assembly, militating against him on behalf of Hutchison. Elsewhere there are signs that rivalry is on the rise within the Republican ranks. Former County Supervisor Clifford Young, who with the possible exception of Acquanetta Warren is the county’s most prominent African-American Republican, was cut off at the pass by Armendarez in his ambition to seek the Fifth District supervisor’s post. Current San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia, now enveloped in a career-threatening scandal of his own, vaulted over fellow Republican Carey Davis, to wrest from him the mayor’s gavel in 2018. Longtime Republican Central Committee member and West Valley Water District Board Member Greg Young was set upon by fellow board member and brother Republican Mike Taylor, who bankrolled the unsuccessful effort by a Democrat to unseat Young in last November’s election.
With two of the three horsemen of pestilence – growing Democratic numbers and the inception of dissension from within – having arrived on the scene, the Republican Party in San Bernadino is just one more apocalyptic cavalier from going the way of the remainder of the Grand Old Party in California and becoming an irrelevance.

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