Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was the keynote speaker at the Burlingame event.
If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, a whole set of encyclopedias could have been written from the pictures of the attendees at last weekend's California State Republican Convention.
Other than a few tokens here and there, the composition was as white as the driven snow. Therein lies the conundrum for Republicans, particularly in California.
Republicans are quickly losing the battle for supporters. The latest figures show that 44 percent of Californians identify with the Democrats, compared with 30 percent for the Republicans. Democrats have dropped by 4 points over the past decade, but Republicans have dropped by eight points. Simply said, the gap is growing.
No doubt, many factors account for the increasing chasm, but clearly race and ethnicity are near the top.
Democrats are cleaning up on non-whites, and as the non-white population grows here at a much faster clip than the white population, minorities are adding to the Democratic bulge.
A brief look at the 2008 presidential results tells the story. Democratic candidate Barack Obama received more than 90 percent of the African-American vote, nearly three-fourths of the Latino vote, and more than 60 percent of the Asian-American vote. Whites pretty much split their votes between Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain. As minorities gain more numbers relative to whites, the disparity will only grow unless
Republicans undertake a serious (not token) recruitment effort.
The fact is that these groups have been ceded to Democrats almost by default, and they don't have to be.
Republicans might consider the conservative religious underpinnings of many Latinos and build on that common ground as a start. Pro-choice pregnancy options and gay marriage, pretty much mainstays among most Democrats, don't resonate so well with many Latinos, thereby providing possible political linkages. Republicans might also consider serious outreach to Asian-American business owners on tax issues, another possible link.
The point is that opportunities exist.
Bringing sizable numbers of minorities under the Republican tent may be tough for some to swallow, given the huge differences in backgrounds. But unless state Republicans can find ways to mass produce lots of old white guys quickly, they may be doomed to permanent irrelevance.
The last thing California needs is a state with only one viable political party. We've seen too much of that in the South and elsewhere.