SM BLVD — Contrary to what one might believe, the term Westside Republican is not an oxymoron.
Aiming to encourage conservatives on the Westside of Los Angeles to overcome intimidation and enjoy the party’s election year resurgence, the Santa Monica Republican Women Federated (SMRWF) along with Log Cabin-Los Angeles and Westside Republicans all came together this past Sunday to hold “Republicans coming out of the Closet” at the Westside Republicans’ Headquarters in Santa Monica.
“The unfortunate truth is that many Republicans on the Westside fear putting a sign in their yard, a bumper sticker on their car or even expressing an opinion at social gatherings,” said Donna Block, first vice-president of the SMRWF. “We want Republicans to realize their views are shared by many in our communities and encourage their participation. Westside Republicans need to come out because they are the only ones left in the closet!”
Carole Curry, president of the SMRWF, echoed the sentiment that Republicans need to be heard.
“Electing Obama was the greatest thing to happen to this country,” said Curry. “Before, either as a conservative or a Republican, we once were scared to reveal our political affiliations. There was complacency right when Obama was sworn in, but look at things now. We are really coming out now to make a change.”
The event was attended by over 100 locals mingling with several Westside Republican candidates up for office; including Chuck Wilkerson, candidate for the 30th Congressional District of California. The day’s special guest was KABC-AM talk show host John Phillips.
Robert Kronovet, a current Santa Monica Rent Control Board commissioner who is running for City Council, was there as well and also believes Republicans in Santa Monica and throughout greater Los Angeles need to more strongly voice their opinions so elected officials have an understanding of what issues matter to them.
“We Republicans here in Santa Monica are the loyal opposition — we are looking to serve locals with a strong, unified, singular voice,” Kronovet declared. “We believe the voters are entitled to a voice for their concerns.”
Polly Benson-Brown, former president of SMRWF and current editor and parliamentarian for the Federated club, has lived in Santa Monica for over 40 years and has seen the changes in the area over time. She remembers Santa Monica being very conservative in the 1950s and ‘60s.
“The thing about being a Republican in this town who’s not only registered to vote but who’s active and who gets involved is that there is always a challenge, there is always something to do. The more I think about it, being a Republican in Santa Monica, it’s nice having a sense that we have something we need to prove,” she said.
A West Los Angeles woman named Iris, who refused to give her last name, offered a more personal account of what it’s like for her being a conservative in a liberal bastion.
“It’s difficult being a conservative here with so many liberals around, they don’t want to hear or engage in any discussion,” she said. “It’s like name-calling, like calling the Tea Party people racist or not knowing much about someone like Sarah Palin and trashing her in front of me. Liberals don’t really engage in two-way discussion. It’s easy to be a liberal — it’s more difficult, more intellectually challenging being a conservative.”
One couple in attendance was very familiar with the rise and fall in popularity of the Republican Party in the area; Bill and Greta (who asked to have their surname omitted) from Encino have lived in Los Angeles all their lives. “L.A. is a liberal town in some ways, if you read what’s in the papers,” Bill said.
“What we need is a balance in power. We think Republicans will be voted in because people are always looking for a way to improve, and with the elected officials in office now we aren’t seeing any improvements at any level of government.”
The theme of the night, besides urging local Republicans to come out of the closet, was the need for change. Will this need force more Republicans to change and become more vocal on the Westside? We’ll just have to wait for election day on Nov. 2 to find out.