Local gun owners and activists protest gun control measures that will be discussed by Palm Springs City Council Wednesday. (July 6, 2016)
Corinne S. Kennedy/The Desert Sun
Frustrated by what they see as the increasing hostility towards the Trump wing of the Republican Party in state and local politics, at least three conservative activists have left, or are planning to leave, Palm Springs for redder pastures.
After years of criticizing Democrats on their weekend Coachella Valley radio show, Bob and Elise Richmond are now headed to Tennessee, essentially voting with their feet.
Their friend and ally, Andrew Hirsch, also intends to leave town in mid-September for upstate New York, where he attended college in the 1970s. Although the Rochester area leans Democrat, it at least provides the GOP with a competitive chance, in Hirsch’s view.
The largely one-party rule in Palm Springs, where progressives control three of five seats, and in Sacramento, where Democrats enjoy a super-majority, has left him feeling “marginalized and isolated,” he said.
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of registered Republicans in the major cities of Coachella Valley shrunk by about 14 percent, or 8,200 people, according to a Desert Sun review of the voter rolls. The worst of it occurred in Palm Springs, where the GOP base shrunk by 40 percent.
Once a bastion of conservatism, the city launched the political career of Sonny Bono in the late 1980s and later his wife, Mary, who would go on to serve 14 years in Congress. She was unexpectedly toppled in 2012 by Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician and the son of local farm workers.
The Richmonds have not responded to messages since selling their home and hitting the road last month, but their departure has been felt. The couple organized numerous letter-writing campaigns and sidewalk demonstrations over the years, galvanizing the more populous elements of the right. Mainstream, moderate Republicans were not exempt from their vitriol.
“If I didn’t have granddaughters, I’d probably be out of here, too,” said Toni Ringlein, a political consultant who worked alongside the Richmonds. “We’re being taxed to death.”