Brulte, the prominent former legislator, became chairman of the California Republican Party in March, following the 2012 elections in which Democrats seized two-thirds majorities in both houses of the state Legislature for the first time in more than 100 years.
Yet midterm elections are historically bad for members of the incumbent president’s party, and a handful of closely watched legislative races next year may afford the GOP an opportunity to break out of its superminority status.
Like many other Republicans, Brulte, 57, considers it a pivotal election cycle.
“My view is that 2014 may be the best opportunity Republicans have to pick up legislative seats in 20 years and will likely be the best opportunity we have this decade,” Brulte said.
The outcome of next year’s elections is significant to a party now nearly irrelevant in California. Republican voter registration has dropped below 30 percent statewide, and no Republican holds statewide office.
Brulte, a highly regarded tactician who helped Republicans win a majority in the state Assembly for the first time in the 1990s, was recruited by the GOP to move the party away from ideology, refocusing on fundraising, voter registration and turnout.
Brulte grew up in San Bernardino County and got his start in politics as an aide to U.S. Sen. S.I. Hayakawa in 1980, where he said “at one point I think I was the only male receptionist in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.”
But he said he was never at home in the nation’s capital – or in Sacramento.
“I’m a conservative,” he said. “It’s not just a philosophical conservative. I tend to eat the same meals. For some people, a nice dinner is an experience. For me, eating is about fuel. My idea of the perfect evening is, you know, takeout at home watching ‘Homeland.’”
After 10 years as a legislative aide and working for the Republican National Committee, the Reagan administration and George H. W. Bush, Brulte won an Assembly seat from Rancho Cucamonga in 1990. He served 14 years in the Assembly and Senate and was the GOP leader in each house.
“By far and away the best thing ...