As it battles as the minority party in an overwhelmingly liberal region, the Contra Costa Republican Party has unanimously elected Matt Shupe to serve as its chairman for the next two years.
Elected as one of the youngest Republican county chairs in the state at 33 years old, Shupe said that one of his main goals as his party’s leader will be to help elect Republicans to office at a local and regional level.
“Getting Republicans elected to office is priorities one through three,” Shupe told DanvilleSanRamon.com on Thursday. “And the rest are activities to support that through fundraising, and starting up voter registration.”
Shupe, a former Danville resident who now lives in Walnut Creek, will have an uphill battle achieving these goals in Contra Costa County, where Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats by a margin larger than 2:1.
According to the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder’s Office data as of June, out of the county's 601,479 registered voters, 125,183 are registered with the GOP. Another 176,061 residents are registered with third parties, while the remaining 300,235 are Democrats.
Combating these figures will may a challenge, but Shupe has seen some positive trends that indicate opportunities for Republicans to take control in certain areas -- opportunities that can be harnessed by speaking to residents about everyday issues.
"It's time for a Republican resurgence in California and the Contra Costa Republican Party will be doing its part to win seats at the local, state and federal level," Shupe said after his selection to be chair. "Republicans and our candidates must be focused on improving the lives of Bay Area residents by addressing out-of-control rents and home prices, some of the worst-in-the-nation traffic and the growing wage disparity in the region."
Originally from the Palm Desert, Shupe moved to Danville six years ago before starting his company Praetorian Public Relations in Walnut Creek, where he is now based, but he still has family living in the San Ramon Valley as well as Pleasanton.
A Fresno State graduate, he double-majored in political science and mass communications in journalism with an emphasis on public relations. Recently he served as communication director for California governor candidate John H. Cox.
Shupe was previously selected as county chairman in March 2018 to serve the remainder of the prior chair's term after their resignation, but this will mark his first full two year term at the position.
The Contra Costa Republicans also elected Cheryl Byle as first vice chair, Fran Cavenaugh as second vice chair, Michele Daugherty as treasurer and John Crowder as secretary at its biennial organization meeting on Jan. 14.
Residents will have the opportunity to listen to Shupe speak when he attends a Commonwealth Club panel titled "Republicans in California: Can the GOP survive?" on Tuesday (Feb. 5), where he will be joined by former assemblywoman Catharine Baker and former State Assembly minority leader Kristin Olsen.
Shupe believes that yes the GOP can survive, and says that statewide there are indicators for optimism.
“I'm actually pretty optimistic for it,” he said. “The first thing that I point to is in 2010 when Meg Whitman ran for governor Republican, voter registration in California was 31% and she spent $116 million on her campaign and she got 41% of the vote. Fast forward to John Cox and voter registration was 24%, that's a 7-point decline. He spent $15 million on that race and we got 38.5%. Republicans statewide get about 40% of the vote, if we were really dead we would have gotten 25%.”
The panel will be held Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at The Commonwealth Club, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco. Tickets vary in price from $10 to $45.