Internal Squabbling Among Local Republican Party Leaders Is Endangering Their Party’s Advantage & Former Ability To Outhustle The County’s More Numerous But Less Cohesive Democrats, Munson Says
By Matt Munson
A political party on auto pilot since the 2022 elections is not an effective political party. The San Bernardino County Republican Party is a deep disappointment. It is more of a monarchy that focuses on the interests of the chairman than the good of the organization. It started from the beginning when the chairman Phil Cothran Sr became finance director under former chair Jan Leija in 2020 saying that he would deliver the heavens to the organization, but we all fell flat on our feet. Even despite COVID he was still able to help raise funds for his compatriot now Supervisor Jesse Armendarez in his first run for supervisor in 2020. We had over 50k in debt due to the nonpayment of our executive director Regina Santamaria and we had one major fundraiser with Dinesh D’Souza to pay her off after Phil became chairman in 2021, but no big fundraisers aside from that. The irony is Orange, Riverside and San Diego County have regular fundraisers, but we are just stuck in a state of statis.
2022 came along and there was money for the organization, but it was diverted to Jesse instead of the body. Most of the big checks were earmarked for the supervisor campaign due to the favorable donation regulations political parties have compared to general political action committees. The only priority was to get Jesse elected over anything else. However, when the primary happened, it was a Republican versus Republican race, and the organization became even dirty. The zeal to get Armendarez elected reduced the enthusiasm of the grassroots to participate in the party where the nomination convention slash fundraiser in August ended up going under in debt where there is over 20,000 in unpaid bills owed to the chairman. I did ask personally if we are going to get these debts paid off, but the chair said this is none of your concern. However, despite his personality, we should do our best to get in the black where he should even be repaid.
The big problem is we should have policies against fratricide in our organization. The race against Armendarez and Cetina was destructive to our organization. If two Republicans of note are our nominees, then both should be endorsed, and they should be supported by their own merits. Leadership members of our organization should avoid below the belt attacks. Our chairman should not be paying for ads fighting for principles that are totally the opposite of most of the membership of the organization believes in.
Redistricting is not kind to San Bernardino County, there must be an era of action. Just because districts may not be “winnable”, we must cultivate these constituencies such as AD 50/SD 29. If these districts can get 44% they need to be cultivated with issue advocacy, get out the vote and other community activities. Even as a candidate in a low tier district, there is little to be expected because county, state and legislative party committee leadership want the candidates to do the hard work and deliver them money. If we just simply sit on our hands, we are going to just accelerate the decline of San Bernardino County and make it the little sister of Los Angeles County.
If we were blessed with eradicating the leadership of the organization, we would have to have a business plan. We will need to produce funding solutions to help make our county party great again. I would offer VIP mixers with our monthly guests for 50-100 dollars in a suite near the event, I would suggest quarterly 50/50 raffles, a yearly fundraiser like how many county parties have a Lincoln Day event. We cannot sustain the organization of member dues alone. Even with member dues, we need to help bring back unity instead of conformity. The party is not just a party for the well off, it needs to include the common people involved.
I also would like prohibitions of the chair to have staff paid from outside sources or sublet. Staff need to be paid out of our state and federal accounts. It should be up to the executive committee of the organization to decide who is worthy of being staffed.
We have almost seven years to make San Bernardino County more difficult for the leftists to redistrict. We need to have a long-term plan to change the county party, change the map for legislative districts and bring forth the people who left our sphere of influence back. American political parties are two major parties, and we have factions within each party, but we need to bring forth more factions to be involved so we can win by addition, not subtraction.
It should not be because people want to win government contracts or increase the wages of government employees, but it should be on unified issues of stopping crime, restoring the energy grid, bringing back parental rights, and making sure education teaches our youth to be successful and not be functional illiterates.
It is construction time again, for activists to restore the San Bernardino County Republican Party to become the Action Party for 2026 so we can restore the herd of elephants in the county.
Matthew Munson was the Republican candidate in California State Senate District 20 in 2014 and 2018 and was involved with the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee for nearly eleven years.