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California Republicans Lose Chance At Competitive Primary

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For the past few weeks, it looked like the Republican presidential race might come down to California, a state that hasn't played a meaningful role in a GOP primary since 1964, then Indiana sent California's June 7 primary back to irrelevance.

As Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler reports, many California Republicans wish they could have mattered.

BEN ADLER, BYLINE: The excitement was palpable at the California Republican Party convention last weekend just outside San Francisco.

GEORGINE SCOTT-CODIGA: This year, being able to have a say is awesome because we never have a say in California

ADLER: That was 58-year-old Tea Party activist Georgine Scott-Codiga of Gilroy, who wore a red Ted Cruz T-shirt. Roseann Slonsky-Breault, a 65-year-old Oakland Republican, supports Donald Trump.

ROSEANN SLONSKY-BREAULT: Very excited to be - like, we're actually relevant, you know?

ADLER: It can be lonely to be a Republican in a state dominated by Democrats, so party activists loved being courted by the candidates.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: On June 7, you have a big, big day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: California is going to decide this Republican primary.

ADLER: Then, just days later, Cruz lost Indiana.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CRUZ: For the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.

ADLER: John Kasich did, too. It was as if Lucy put the football down for Charlie Brown, then pulled it away.

CHAD MAYES: Yeah, it is disappointing. I've got to tell you.

ADLER: That's the Republican leader of the California State Assembly, Chad Mayes. Just days earlier, he had introduced Kasich at the state convention.

MAYES: Having all three candidates show up for the convention - when was the last time that happened? So, yeah, it's unfortunate we're not going to be able to have an impact.

ADLER: Slonsky-Breault, the Oakland Trump supporter, is hoping for a strong turnout, anyway.

SLONSKY-BREAULT: It probably would have been super exciting if California was the final state to decide who would be the candidate. But I still think it's going to be an exciting election for California.

ADLER: And here's another silver lining from the State Senate's Republican leader, Jean Fuller.

JEAN FULLER: It could've been worse, right? It could've been everybody dropped out before the convention (laughter).

ADLER: This way, at least, California Republicans got to enjoy a few brief days in the national political spotlight before it disappeared for at least four more years. For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler in Sacramento. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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