You really have to wonder about the future of the Republican Party — not only in California, but maybe even the nation — if people like Serafin Quintanar are jumping ship.
Quintanar, 42, is a rock-solid conservative and Tea Party activist. In 2010, he finished a distant third in the 20th Congressional District Republican primary election, which was won by Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak.
Next week, Quintanar says, he will re-register as an independent, which in the past was known in official parlance as “decline to state,” but is now called “no party preference.”
In California, a lot has been written about the decline of the Republican Party, and much of that suggested it is out of step with the state’s more liberal leanings and has become too conservative to be viable.
But Quintanar comes from a totally different angle.
“I am not leaving the Republican Party,” he says. “The Republican Party left me.”
Quintanar says the party’s change in direction is a big reason why Mitt Romney lost the presidential election. Romney, he says, he lost the Republican Party’s base. By comparison, he says, Barack Obama won a second term because he concentrated on winning the Democratic Party’s base.
Quintanar says he will continue to support conservative causes and conservative candidates and elected officials, regardless of party affiliation.
Local Republican strategist Michael Der Manouel Jr. says there are conservatives leaving the party for reasons similar to Quintanar, only they are doing so “without pronouncement.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” says Der Manouel, who is also chairman of the Lincoln Club of Fresno County.
He notes that Quintanar is a Tea Party activist. He says being unaffiliated frees up Quintanar and other like-minded frustrated conservatives to “be more critical of everybody — and not be accused of being partisan.”
Quintanar agrees. As an independent voter, he anticipates being “highly courted” instead of being “taken for granted by a major party.”
“An independent conservative voter actually has greater influence over the Republican Party than a voter registered as a Republican,” he says.