Jim Brulte: Will take CA GOP 6 years to rebound

The worst kept secret in California politics will be revealed Monday night in San Diego when former state senator Jim Brulte officially announces his campaign to be state party chair before a gathering of the San Diego GOP. Yes, we know we told you about all this weeks ago. The chair election will be in March at the state GOP convention in Sac, but the field is essentially cleared and it’s Brulte’s gig to take. Yeah, as we told you a while back.

Just talked to Brulte — whose choice has been lauded by Republicans from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy on down — and asked him how long this turnaound job will take. Willie Brown told us his old Legislature rival could make progress by 2016. That was optimistic.

“A minimum of six years,” Brulte told The Chronicle. “This is a corporation that is bankrupt. There is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done and we all need to share in doing it.”

That’s not to say he’s kissing off the next cycle. Republicans need to “either stop the bleeding and/or start turning it around” in 2014 or Brulte said the party will be in the pits “for the rest of the decade.” The legislative supermajority gives Dems a supermajority of fundraising power that will be hard for Republicans to overcome.

Despite his transpartisan respect, Brulte told us that he won’t be a high-profile chief, pontificating on the latest public policy. He plans to be a “nuts-and-bolts,” kind of chairman.

How much of a rebuilding job is this? Brulte threw out an analogy to legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

At the beginning of a season, Wooden would tell his players that they would start with the basics– starting with how to put their socks on right so they wouldn’t get blisters.

So grab your socks, Republicans. With no statewide office-holders, minority party status in both state house chambers, major financial problems, and a huge problem with Latino and Asian voters, you’ve got to start with the basics. That said, Brulte said, “Demographics is not destiny.”

He told us he knows of “two or three” Republicans who are thinking of taking on Democratic Guv Jerry Brown.

Here’s are Brulte’s priorities:
1. Improve the party’s fundraising. “Candidates come and go but the party is eternal.” Says the GOP can’t rely on wealthy candidates — or from getting money from one or two wealthy donors.

2. Improve the party’s infrastructure. It’s weak nearly everywhere in the state, but for now they’re going to focus on areas where there is a weak Dem incumbent that can be picked off — or a weak Republican who is vulnerable.

3. Recruit and train strong local candidates.

4. Reach out to Latino and Asian voters and candidates. “Republicans need to be in every — EVERY — neighborhood in California.” Asked whether that means changing their policy on immigration, Brulte deferred. “Remember, I’m the nuts-and-bolts guy.” He’s not going to worry about policy. All he would allow is, “Republicans need to show their heart more. They need to show their servant’s heart.”

Yes, Brulte is going to be working on nuts-and-bolts stuff, but we asked if he knew what Republicans would be running for Guv next year. Yes, it’s time to start gearing up. He said he knew of “two or three” people who were considering it, but declined to give names.

And for you insiders, Brulte told us that he will not be running on a slate at the state convention and will not endorse anybody for vice chair or any other offices.

“I don’t even know if I’ll endorse myself,” he quipped.

Joe Garofoli