SACRAMENTO – He may be assured of his party’s nomination for re-election, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will find out next weekend how much he really has to do to win back the hearts and minds of the party’s faithful. The California Republican Party’s convention in San Jose presents a key opportunity for Schwarzenegger to quell a simmering revolt from angry conservatives who feel he has drifted too far to the middle since his special-election defeat in November. Conservatives are frustrated by several recent moves, including the hiring of Democrat Susan Kennedy as his chief of staff, his support for a minimum-wage hike and his proposal for a massive bond to finance $222 billion in infrastructure improvements. “The governor needs to articulate the principles that were behind what got him elected in the first place during the recall – lower taxes, smaller government and illegal immigration,” said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a conservative activist group. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The hiring of Kennedy, he added, has frustrated conservatives and represents an “abandonment of the principles behind the recall.” The CRA had considered asking the Republican Party to pull its endorsement of the governor, but backed off that plan after receiving promises that conservatives would get a chance to air their grievances at the convention. Two former party chairmen had also drafted a resolution calling for the GOP to withdraw its endorsement, but that is also expected to be put aside. With the governor facing no serious primary challenger, the resolution had been seen as a symbolic gesture significant more for the embarrassment factor than for its chance of passing. Nonetheless, it foreshadows the difficulty that Schwarzenegger will face in energizing the party’s hard-core volunteers during the fall campaign. Still, Schwarzenegger’s political advisers remain confident that the governor will retain the support of most party members. “I think some of this is blown out of proportion,” said Rob Stutzman, spokesman for the governor’s re-election effort. “You have a few vocal people who are speaking out and suggesting insanely stupid things to do. “Then there are some that are a little disgruntled on a few policy fronts – but they’ll also tell you the governor replaced the illegal car tax, (reformed) workers’ compensation, has upheld the death penalty. There’s a lot they’re very happy about as well.” Convention-goers will tackle the issues as they also take in a dinner banquet Friday with Schwarzenegger, a luncheon Saturday with state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, and a keynote speech Saturday night by New York Gov. George Pataki. On Sunday, delegates will meet in general session to consider at least 22 resolutions on everything from pulling the governor’s endorsement and opposing a moratorium on the death penalty to limiting the state’s eminent domain power and rejecting an increase in the minimum wage. Several resolutions praise the governor, citing his new infrastructure program, success in helping the economy, strengthening of public safety and efforts on budget reform. The anti-endorsement resolution, authored by former party chairmen Michael Schroeder and John Herrington, says that Kennedy’s placement in such a key position has made it “impossible” for Republicans to work on political strategy with the Governor’s Office. It also says Kennedy’s appointment “has damaged Republican morale” and tells party members that the governor does not value the same principles and their years of service to the party. State party Chairman Duf Sundheim said the debate has been healthy for the party. “I think the discussion we’re having is a very constructive one,” Sundheim said. “I think it shows we are a diverse party that is capable of having differences of opinions, but I think you’ll see we’ll come out of the convention united.” McClintock, widely considered the party’s most prominent conservative voice, supported the governor in a letter to convention delegates, and his appeal was part of what convinced the CRA. Though McClintock, who is running for lieutenant governor, believes the party generally shouldn’t issue endorsements until after the primary, he argued withdrawing the endorsement now is the wrong move. McClintock said he disagrees with the governor’s hiring of Kennedy, but notes Schwarzenegger has accomplished many things that appeal to conservatives. And the Kennedy hiring, he said, is well within the governor’s prerogative, because it is she who is agreeing to abide by his beliefs, not the other way around. “It’s quite appropriate for the party to define its principles and to raise hell when its standard-bearers waver from those principles,” McClintock said. “But that is a very different thing from undermining the candidacies of Republicans like Schwarzenegger, who have done so much in concert with our principles, and shown enormous courage in doing so.” Harrison Sheppard, (916)446-6723 [email protected] The California Republican Party convention will be held Friday-Sunday at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. For more information, see www.cagop.org. The California Democratic Party convention will be April 28-30 at the Sacramento Convention Center. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!