Melissa Melendez wins state Senate seat, but is the California Republican Party ready for the road ahead

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Former Navy Veteran and newly sworn in state Sen. Melissa Melendez will take over the 28th district after former Sen. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, left for a position in the Trump administration. She previously held the 67th Assembly district which is being pursued by Democrat Jerry Carlos and Republican Kelly Seyarto.

Both candidates came out as the top 2 after the March 3 primary results. Carlos gained 32.9% of the vote, while Seyarto received 29.1%.

Both districts are historically held by Republicans, but the area has seen a minor resurgence for the Democrats. It is only a small bump, but it is majorly attributed to the number of Republicans running on the ballot.

The race in Assembly’s 67th district is similar to the one ran in California’s 50th congressional district in the March 8 primary. The race consisted of Carl DeMaio, former U.S. Rep. Darrel Issa and state Sen. Brian Jones. A few others ran as well, but they only chipped away at the percentage of votes gained.

The 50th district was a tough race with Republicans Issa and DeMaio throwing the heaviest blows. The Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar only had to keep silent to slowly move up to the top percentage of votes. However, come November for both districts, votes that were dispersed out to numerous Republican candidates will file into one.

For example, Seyarto held 29%. The next Republican, Jeremy Smith got 18%; Steve Manos with 14.5% and lastly Nick Pardue with 5.5%.

With the others faded out of contention, Seyarto will have a voting majority if supporters aren’t – too loyal – to their candidate. In regards to the 50th Congressional District, the same could be said, but the rivalry between Issa and DeMaio was much more mean-spirited and uglier. Polls also indicated voters were disgusted with the ads and discourse playing out on television or in general.

Melendez will provide a fresh perspective to the state Senate and also a strong candidate for further growth within the Republican Party. On paper, she has a good track record, being both the Lake Elsinore mayor and as a Navy veteran.

The California Republican Party at large has been in decline. Strongholds in Orange County were breached and flipped over to the Democrats. The party’s survival hinges on internal and abroad changes to their philosophies and principled approaches toward policy. Old ways will need to be mixed in with the new, needless to say.

Troy Chavez