Newt Gingrich's California Factor
LOS ANGELES - When Newt Gingrich announced he would be spending the majority of the week in California it was assumed the candidate, who is low on funds, was heading west to collect money.
While Gingrich's California political director said fundraising this week likely pushed the campaign to its $2 million goal in the state since the beginning of the campaign, there is another strategy is in the works to rack up votes as the state awards proportional delegates for the first time.
The California Republican primary isn't until June 5, but Michael Schroeder, Gingrich's state political director, said if by Super Tuesday the race is still a three or four man split, California could suddenly come into play.
Gingrich has long said he's in the race until the convention, even saying Thursday his goal was "to go to Tampa."
California awards 172 delegates, and was a winner-take-all state in previous Republican presidential primary elections. This election cycle the state will award proportional delegates for the first time, and delegates are bound based on a win in one of the 53 congressional districts. Each district awards three delegates, and an additional 10 at-large delegates are bound to the state-wide winner.
"If you win a couple of congressional districts, you get can get as many as you would have gotten in New Hampshire just out of two congressional delegates," Schroeder said. "So everything's going to change in terms of how California's campaigned to. We'll be campaigned to like we're several different states."
Schroeder said there are districts with only four or five thousand Republicans, such as in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles.
"Most of them are either Asian, African American or Hispanic. And so you're going to see for the first time presidential candidates aggressively campaigning to Asians, blacks and Hispanics in California, because they can win significant numbers of delegates," Schroeder said.
Gingrich held eight fundraisers throughout the week, mostly charging a $250 to $500 admission for photo opportunities and a speech, but he also held a few events, all hyper focused on certain minority demographics.
Gingrich held a Hispanic town hall on Tuesday in El Monte at a Mexican restaurant, where many of the questions from the mostly Hispanic crowd were centered on immigration and other Hispanic issues. Thursday, He campaigned at the office of the Korea Times, near the Koreatown district of Los Angeles. Many of the guests and journalists were of Asian descent and asked Gingrich questions centered on his foreign policy.
Rick Santorum has not yet campaigned in the Golden State, while Romney has spent time fundraising there and held a few campaign events in the summer. Gingrich's state political director, Schroeder, was Romney's state political director in 2008.
Gingrich said today his trip to California was a success for his campaign, though some questioned why he wasn't spending his week focused on the upcoming primaries of Arizona, Michigan, Washington, and Super Tuesday states.
"I hope to leave with affection, votes, fond memories and money, all of those things coming together," Gingrich said.
Gingrich heads back to California on Feb. 25 to speak at the California Republican Party Convention in Burlingame.