California GOP leaders will consider ousting two state party members who are leaders of an anti-Trump group supporting the presidential candidacy of Democrat Joe Biden, according to interviews.
Conservative members of the party plan to submit a resolution arguing that GOP strategists Mike Madrid and Luis Alvarado, members of the Lincoln Project, have violated party bylaws and should be stripped of their status as delegates to California Republican Party functions.
“Go join the Democratic Party. You don’t get a warm seat at our convention. You don’t get a vote at our convention holding those views and taking those actions,” said Harmeet Dhillon, one of California’s two representatives on the Republican National Committee.
Dhillon said party members started discussing plans to disqualify the pair in recent days. Some members of the state party may not vote for President Trump, she said, but Madrid and Alvarado’s active and public support of Biden and opposition to Trump and some GOP senators crosses a line.
“It’s the active fomenting for the opposite side that violates party discipline and party unity,” she said.
Madrid, one of the co-founders of the Lincoln Project, laughed when he heard about the effort.
“I’m glad they’re focused on the right things 100 days from the election,” said Madrid. “God bless them.”
Madrid has been a state party delegate on and off since serving as its political director in 1998, but said he could not recall the last time he paid dues. He also worked as a consultant for the state party in the mid-2010s.
He drew criticism when he worked on Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2018, but Madrid pointed out that he has continued to help elect Republicans across the state, most recently working on a Fresno Chamber of Commerce effort that helped a Republican win the city’s mayoral seat in March.
“I have watched pro-life members drive pro-choice members out of the party. I’ve watched white nationalists drive people of color out of the party,” Madrid said. “Am I surprised by this? Not in the least bit. Am I going to stop fumigating the party of white nationalism? No. I’m just getting started.”
Alvarado, a moderate GOP strategist who joined the Lincoln Project’s California fundraising team in July, on Wednesday said he understood the move.
“At first I was angry. If they do it, it’s going to hurt the party more,” he said. “Then I realized this is what happens when you allow a deficient, now wounded POTUS to run the party to the ground. I’m just the lightning rod to all their frustrations and the success of the Lincoln Project.”
The Lincoln Project is one of several GOP groups that have sprung up to oppose Trump. The political action committee, which counts several prominent Republican strategists among its founders, is known for producing edgy advertisements that have drawn the ire of the president. The group has also produced ads supporting Biden and opposing GOP senators such as Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona.
State party bylaws say party leaders may expel or censure delegates for publicly advocating for voters to support a candidate who is not a party nominee for any office or for supporting any candidate over a GOP-backed office-seeker.
“This is not rocket science,” said Jon Fleischman, former executive director of the state GOP. “If you want to serve on the Republican Party state committee, it means you agree to support the Republican nominees. I can assure you over the years as a conservative that I circled the wagon behind many moderate nominees I did not prefer.”
Party officials said other members had been bounced, but it was a rare move. None could recall a name. But the party has a history of turning on itself for perceived transgressions.
In the early 1990s, conservative activists at a state party convention tarred and feathered Gov. Pete Wilson in effigy over his perceived moderation. In 2002, the party voted to censure its chairman because he threatened to recall state lawmakers who supported tax increases.
Party members are figuring out who will draft a resolution aimed at kicking out Madrid and Alvarado. That proposal would head to either the rules committee or the executive board, though it’s unclear when that would happen. The party was last scheduled to meet in June, for a convention that was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But conservative activists said they plan to press forward.
“The president is duly elected. Then they also want to defeat Republican [senators] running for election,” said Celeste Greig, the former chair of the conservative California Republican Assembly, who is seeking another delegate to coauthor a resolution. “No, no, no, this is not right. What they are doing is absolutely vicious.”