Republican Campaign Dynamo Young Tenders Central Committee Resignation

Even as high ranking San Bernardino County Republican Party members and local GOP insiders were basking in the afterglow of multiple victories in last week’s Presidential Primary election which ensure the Party of Lincoln’s domination of San Bernardino County’s governmental structure for the next two years and potentially for the next four years, the county Republican Central Committee sustained a blow of unknown but significant magnitude with the resignation of a key member who has engaged in considerable and effective behind-the-scenes party promotion over the last dozen years.
For four decades beginning in the mid-1960s, the Republican Party had been in ascendancy in San Bernardino County by virtue of the larger numbers of registered Republicans among its voters, combined with the tendency of Republicans to turn out in greater numbers than Democrats. In 2009, the number of registered Democrats in San Bernardino County eclipsed the number of registered Republicans in the county, but the Republicans have continued to outhustle their Democratic counterparts locally by outraising them in terms of electioneering funds, more effective and targeted campaigning, better coordination in reducing redundancies of Republican candidates in races where Democrats run a multitude of hopefuls who ultimately split the Democratic vote and expend money attempting to beat one another, and more effective efforts in driving greater numbers of Republicans to vote while the Democrats show up in fewer numbers at the polls despite their overall registration advantage.
Throughout the country, as in California, party affiliation has a direct bearing on the election of the president, senators, congress members, governors and state legislators. In California, local offices such as those of county supervisor, sheriff, district attorney, town council member or city council member are officially considered non-partisan, and the party of a candidate for one of those offices does not appear on the ballot when election for those posts is being conducted. Nevertheless, in San Bernardino County party affiliation is a de facto primary consideration in the election of officeholders at all levels.
San Bernardino County is divided into five supervisorial districts, the intention being that each district comprises one-fifth of the county population. In recent decades, the Republicans have held sway, with only a few exceptions, over the offices of sheriff and district attorney countywide and supervisor in the First, Second, Third and Fourth districts. The lone exception in this pattern has been the county’s Fifth Supervisorial District, covering the east half of Fontana, all of Rialto and Bloomington and Colton as well as the western half of San Bernardino. That predominantly blue collar area has traditionally been saturated with union members and an overwhelming number of Democrats. That reality is reflected today in the consideration that of the five current members of the board of supervisors, four are Republicans and the only Democrat on the panel is Josie Gonzales, the Fifth District supervisor.
So extensive were the Democratic numbers in the Fifth District that beginning in 1992 – when Republican Fifth District Supervisor Robert Hammock had left that seat in what turned out to be a failed attempt to run for Congress – the Republicans pretty much wrote off the Fifth District, resigning themselves to the reality that it was Democratic territory. Indeed, by midway in the first decade of the Third Millennium, while a multitude of candidates were competing for positions on the Republican Central Committee in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Districts, there was often no race for positions on the Republican Central Committee in the Fifth District because fewer candidates than the number of those positions up for election would even turn out to run. This meant that one could become an elected member of the Republican Central Committee in the Fifth District by simply meeting the residency requirement and signing up. No election was held for the Republican Central Committee Fifth District positions over several years running in the early 2000s.
In 2008, Greg Young, an earnest young Republican, expressed an interest in advancing his party’s fortunes. A resident of Bloomington, and thus of the Fifth District, he was given almost immediate entrée to the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, gaining an appointment as an alternate to the county party organization. Appreciative of the opportunity and the faith expressed in him, Young endeavored not to disappoint his fellow party members nor squander the chance his presence on the central committee provided him to further the Republicans’ efforts to outmaneuver the Democrats. Party officials could not help but be impressed with Young’s energy and intensity, even though some felt that he was being a little bit unrealistic in seeking to make any inroads in untightening the Democrats’ grip that gave them such a stranglehold on the Fifth District. Remarkably, though not overnight, Young’s dogged persistence in what most others considered to be a hopeless circumstance began to show results. Through both suggestion and willingness to get out into the trenches himself and engage with voters, whom he approached not as an advocate of the Republican party but as someone selling a particular candidate who, if anyone checked, just happened to be a Republican, Young involved himself in or served as a major or prime mover in successful election after election in which the Republicans began to erode the Democrats’ base in the Fifth District. In 2013, Young supported Republican Dr. Clifford Young [no blood relation to Greg Young] in his successful race for a position on the West Valley Water District Board of Directors. In that race, Clifford Young displaced a longtime Democratic board member. Two years later, Greg Young, in what would be his maiden run for political office other than his position on the central committee, ran for a position on the West Valley Water District himself, placing first. Two years later, in 2017, Greg Young again assisted Dr. Clifford Young, this time in his reelection effort, which proved successful. In that same contest, Greg Young assisted Dr. Young, one of San Bernardino County’s most prominent African-American Republicans, in getting two other Republicans – Dr. Michael Taylor and Kyle Crowther – elected to the West Valley Water Board. At that point, as is yet the case, four out of five of the members of the West Valley Water Board were and are Republicans. Lying at what is essentially the heart of the Fifth Supervisorial District, the West Valley Water District has an electorate that is overwhelmingly Democratic in terms of voter registration. As of this week, according to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Office, 20,266 or 49.4 percent of the West Valley Water District’s 41,024 voters are registered as Democrats. Those registered as Republicans – 8,817 or 20 percent – are outnumbered by the 10,100 voters or 24.4 percent in the district who are unaffiliated with any political party whatsoever. The remaining 5.8 percent of the district’s voters are registered with the Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom and other more obscure political parties.
Similarly, Greg Young was involved in promoting Republicans elsewhere in the Fifth District. One area in which the Republicans enjoyed uncommon success was in Fontana, where another of the county’s more prominent African-American Republicans, Acquanetta Warren, is mayor and heads up a Republican ruling coalition on the city council. In Fontana, the voter registration numbers are lopsidedly in favor of the Democrats. As of this week, 45,833 or 49.4 percent of that city’s 92,869 voters are registered Democrats, while 17,366 voters or 18.7 percent are registered Republicans. In Fontana, Republicans are significantly outnumbered by the 24,123 voters or 26 percent with no political affiliation at all. American Independent, Green Libertarian, peace and Freedom and other smaller parties account for the remaining 5.9 percent of Fontana’s voters. Nevertheless, four of Fontana’s city council members – Warren and councilmen John Roberts, Jesse Armendarez and Phil Cothran, Jr. – are all Republicans. Greg Young has been a close supporter and key advisor to Warren since she successfully ran for mayor in Fontana in 2010.
Most politically active Republicans in San Bernardino County, either readily or reluctantly, acknowledge that Young has been a valuable asset to the San Bernardino County Republican Party from more than one standpoint, but most particularly because of the way in which he demonstrated that the party did not have to give up on the Fifth District as a lost cause. By sheer will, and in defiance of the odds, he pushed the party and several of its standard bearers to enter the political fray in what looked to be the very Republican-hostile Fifth District, and emerge victorious.
As a consequence of that, and because it is recognized that Young possesses an unrivaled command of the political lay of the land in the Fifth District, the central committee previously designated Young the chairman of the Fifth District Republican Caucus.
Last year, however, when Young was due to run for reelection to the West Valley Water District Board, the Republican Central Committee, or at least some controlling elements within it, inexplicably moved to undercut him. More remarkable than the county party’s move to double-cross Young was the way it went about doing so.
Traditionally, the Republican Party in San Bernardino County gives special deference to incumbents. While by no means prohibiting party members from challenging incumbent Republicans or discouraging such challenges, per se, the central committee has a policy of endorsing an incumbent Republican candidate unless there is a sufficient tide of sentiment within the central committee against doing so. The rationale for that policy is that an incumbent is a known quantity who has demonstrated an ability to win, such that the incumbent represents the party’s best shot at maintaining its political reach. The threshold for withdrawing the party endorsement of an incumbent party member is 60 percent. That is, if 60 percent of the central committee votes to endorse an incumbent’s challenger, then the central committee will withdraw its endorsement of the incumbent and instead endorse the challenger. Such occurrences are rare.
As Young was putting everything in place and gearing up for his reelection bid last summer, Fontana resident Angel Ramirez, who had done some work on the city council campaigns for Jesse Armendarez  and Phil Cothran, suddenly emerged as a potential candidate in the West Valley Division 5 contest, the one in which Young was seeking to return to the board for four more years. Another candidate in the Division 5 race was Jackie Cox, a former board member and a Democrat. Ramirez, who was a recent addition to the Republican Central Committee, did not meet the residency requirements to run in Division 5. Shortly before the filing period for the November election opened in July, however, Ramirez rented a room in Bloomington, reregistering as a voter there. He then entered the race. At that point, the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee considered the field of candidates in the odd-year election to be held in November. Going into those discussions, it was widely assumed Young would land the endorsement, as he was an incumbent, Cox was a Democrat and Ramirez was a relative political neophyte, with nowhere near the electioneering experience under his belt as Young had. Unaccountably however, when the voting to hand out the endorsements were made, Ramirez emerged with the Republican endorsement.
Young was dumbfounded by what had occurred. Rocked back on his heels, he proceeded, nonetheless toward the election, redoubling and then retrippling his electioneering efforts. Simultaneously, Ramirez, banked $18,163.70 toward his election effort, $17,964.70 of which was money transferred to him by Dr. Michael Taylor, the Republican member of the West Valley Water Board whom Young had worked to put into office in 2017. During the election, third party expenditure committees also supported Ramirez in terms of funding political “hit pieces” against Young.
Despite the setback of the party endorsement going to Ramirez and his disappointment, not to mention the sniping at him from the tall grass, Young did not allow the distractions to de-intensify his focus on the job at hand. He soldiered on, walking precincts, sending out mailers and propounding his name as widely and as hard as he could within the water district’s Division 5. After all of the votes were counted following the November 2019 race, Young had collected a majority of the votes – 340 or 52.63 percent – to outdistance Ramirez, with 230 votes or 35.6 percent, and Cox, with 76 votes or 11.76 percent, combined.
This week, four months after his reelection to the West Valley Water Board and eight days after the March 3 Presidential Primary Election for which he had been actively involved in promoting Republican candidates, Young on Wednesday March 11 sent an email to the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee.
In that missive, Young said that since his reelection he had “pondered on my time in this body and whether I should continue to expend valuable time and resources in it.”
After delineating his efforts early in his tenure on the central committee in overcoming the difficulties that had shaken the San Bernardino County Republican Party after former Central Committee Chairman/County Supervisor/County Assessor Bill Postmus had enmeshed himself in a bribery scandal, Young emphasized his work as chairman of a precinct captain training program, which led to his successful mastering of electioneering technique, with which he three times garnered the most votes in his election, reelection and second reelection to the central committee as well as in both of his own races for the West Valley Water Board. He referenced his work as caucus chairman in the Fifth District and his willingness to battle the long odds on behalf of the GOP. “The voter registration was a 2:1 Democrat advantage,” he wrote. “But I knew there was a path and a strategy to succeed.” With regard to his initial election to the water board, he asserted, “I was largely written off by my opponents. I not only won the election but I finished in a commanding first place ahead of a 20-year incumbent, a 10-year former incumbent, and the former general manager who had worked at the district for over 50 years. I showed that we as Republicans can win in Democrat strongholds if we have the right approach and work together. In 2017, I would not only help my Republican board member [Clifford Young] get re-elected despite fierce efforts to defeat him, but I also helped sweep the other two seats with Republican candidates.”
Upbraiding his fellow central committee members, Young wrote, “You would think the party might be interested in learning how my team had been so successful in heavily Democratic areas, but you showed little interest beyond brief congratulations. I have noticed for some time, and other central committee members have as well, that the party has been drifting back to the old ways of the long-ago Bill Postmus era. Winning elections and growing the party is not what is important anymore. Power and money are what really matters and a handful of power brokers dominate the priorities of the party, and if you get in the way of that you must be not only defeated but destroyed.”
Young’s missive continued, “When outside special interests wanted to use the new Republican majority at the West Valley Water District to financially benefit political friends with executive level jobs with no experience, I pushed back hard. This is not what the Republican Party or its actions are supposed to be. When you stand up to corrupt elements of your own party with ties to Bill Postmus, you become a big target. False and malicious accusations were made against me in order to wound me in the race and only came out after I filed for reelection.”
Young wrote that “I knew that 2019 was going to be a tough reelection for me. I knew if the Democrats came after me in an organized effort, I would have a hard go. But something remarkable happened. After keeping my promises of cutting rates and giving the ratepayers rebates, the Democratic Party took a pass on my race. I had a former board member running against me who had raised rates in 2012, but she was not endorsed by or working with the Democratic Party. I literally scared the organized Democratic Party out of my race, but my real challenge would be from corrupt fellow ‘Republicans’ desperate to remove me as an obstacle to their plans. Those ‘Republicans’ tried desperately to find someone in my district to run against me without success. Finally, they resorted to an old and true tactic of moving a straw candidate into my district mere days before the filing deadline. The 20-something-year-old candidate moved from Fontana to Bloomington just to take me down, and was ironically also an alternate in my own caucus.”
Young wrote, “As if the Republican-on-Republican battle was not bad enough, the central committee decided to go full stupid and strip me of my endorsement as an incumbent to give it to the no-experience carpetbagger with dirty money friends. After over a decade of service to this party, you cast aside one of your own caucus chairs and Republican incumbents to endorse a nobody. It is a dark stain on the body that will haunt it for years to come. So much for all that talk about standing with our incumbents and getting them more involved in the party.”
Young said he resented the cheap shot hit pieces against him that had been generated to assist Ramirez. “The people of the district know who I am and not what dirty outside special interests tried to paint me as,” Young wrote. “I have been told by insiders that close to $50,000 was spent both on and off the books against me including vicious and dirty attacks from the once-reputable Inland Empire Taxpayers Association. Ironically, the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association supported me when I first ran, and you would think as an incumbent who actually cut rates that they would support me again. Sadly, they showed that they are just as dirty as the money they take to launch false attacks against fellow Republicans. They actually sent out puff pieces for the former Democrat board member in my race, and she was one of the board members who raised rates. When a taxpayers association, run by Republicans some of whom are not only members of this Central Committee but are part of the leadership of this party, are promoting Democrats who raise rates, that is the height of hypocrisy and a clear sign that the party desperately needs to be cleaned out.”
Young said, “It is ironic that at the central committee meeting after the election there was a desperate call for members to give money to the party. Imagine how much better the party’s financial position would have been if so many of you had not wasted close to $50,000 trying to take out one of your own. There are still some good people in the central committee but they are clearly a minority of the body. The party is really run by a group of jackals comprised of political operatives, consultants, and wannabe power brokers there to only serve their special interests.”
Stating, “I can be far more effective without your dirty politics of personal destruction,” Young vowed he would “continue to fight for my conservative values in my community. I can work with decent and honest people regardless of labels, and fight for a more honest system and leadership without enduring such disrespect as you have shown me. I will make it a personal mission to tell the story of what you did to me, to every elected official and Republican voter. If this party is going to behave the way it did against me, then conservatives everywhere should turn their backs on it until it purges itself of its corruption and returns to the purpose and principles that will actually grow the party.”
Concluding, Young wrote, “I therefore, resign as Fifth District caucus chair and as a member of Republican Central Committee, effective immediately.”
Young’s departure comes at an inauspicious time for the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. Last week, Fontana City Councilman Jesse Armendarez finished in a strong second place in the four-way contest to replace the soon-to-be-termed-out Josie Gonzales as Fifth District supervisor. Armendarez, a Republican, qualified for a November runoff against Rialto Councilman Joe Baca, Jr., a Democrat. Young’s assistance in helping Armendarez overcome Baca’s advantages, which include Democratic affiliation in the heavily Democratic district and name recognition he possesses as a result of his father’s illustrious political career as an assemblyman, state senator and congressman, would be invaluable.
The Sentinel’s efforts to obtain from San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Jan Lija her version of events was unsuccessful.
-Mark Gutglueck

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