LOS ANGELES (AP) — A group of wealthy Republicans in Orange County has created the state’s largest GOP political action committee in an attempt to broaden the party’s appeal.
The New Majority was formed in early 2000 in Orange County, the historic center of the state’s Republican Party.
Membership has more than doubled since its inception, from 44 to 110, and 14 members have joined Team 100, which requires a donation of $100,000 or more to the national Republican party.
The group has riled some established Republicans who contend that its wealthy members are out of touch with working-class Republicans.
New Majority members include: George Argyros, the U.S. Ambassador to Spain; Henry Samueli, founder of technology heavyweight Broadcom and Donald Bren, billionaire chairman of The Irvine Co., a real estate development firm.
Each member pays $10,000 to join the New Majority, which hopes to expand to Los Angeles and San Diego counties. The group’s goal is to promote more mainstream Republicans in key GOP primaries, believing they stand a better chance of winning against Democrats.
Members raised $3 million for the President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000, gaining most of that during two high-profile fund-raisers in Orange County.
The group last month also formally endorsed former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan as its Republican candidate for governor. Riordan supports abortion rights and gun control, which sets him apart from the two more conservative GOP candidates — businessman Bill Simon Jr. and Secretary of State Bill Jones.
The endorsement for Riordan came with $100,000 and individual members contributed another $400,000.
New Majority leadership also helped lead an internal coup of the state GOP apparatus organized by Bush’s California political strategist, Gerry Parsky. Changes adopted in October transferred party power from a group of conservatives to a professional manager accountable to a board of directors, including a representative of the party’s major donors.
“They’re a vital new element in the Republican party,” said California Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel, a lawyer from Palos Verdes. “They represent a new generation of entrepreneurs who will help make the Republican Party the major party in California in the next 10 years. Their timing was exquisite.”
Of the state’s 15.3 million voters, 45 percent are Democrats and 35 percent are Republicans, while 14.5 percent decline to state a party affiliation.