At the California state Republican convention  in Anaheim this past weekend politicians were scarce but none was more notably absent than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has seen his popularity plummet across the state.

Schwarzenegger who is term limited has had a rocky relationship with the GOP faithful in California ever since he emerged on the scene as the candidate to replace Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.  Back then the conservatives in the party were suspicious of Schwarzenegger’s true poiltical leanings but seemed willing to place their trust in him in order to mreclaim the governor’s mansion.  By 2006 when it came time for Schwarzenegger to run for a full term the conservatives were proven right about his liberal leanings but couldn’t find a legitimate candidate to challenge the still popular governor.

Yet the bloom has now come off the rose for all voters, as Schwarzenegger has watched over a worsening budget deficit and has openly embraced Democratic state legislators and their liberal agenda.

Still until fairly recently the governor made regular appearances as the state party convention and was still a popular draw, but it looks like the conservatives at least may have had enough of Arnold.

To be fair Schwarzenegger didn’t miss much this weeekend as for some inexplicable reason there were no politicans with booths except for the McCain campaign which is the first time I can recall seeing that in 19 years of attending this event.  Hopefully the lack of party business was largely the reason for the low attendance and not any general malaise on the part of Repiblicans statewide.

If there was any enthusiasm it was for t-shirts bearing the image or name of Sarah Palin.  Vendors selling those goods saw their products literally fly off the shelves and only underscored the difference Palin has made since joining the ticket.  I spoke with one vendor  selling Palin Flower Power t-shirts for women and she said that she has seen a resurgence of enthusiasm for McCain after the Palin announcement and she counts herself in that group.

California was once a state that the GOP could contest and stand a reasonable chance of winning, but as more immigrants take hold the state has turned blue enough that the RNC rarely makes much of an effort in the state which only hurts the down ticket and further strenghthens the Democrats grip on national offices.

I know many Republicans who are discouraged enough to not even bother attending the state convention but that is a defeatest attitude that won’t help the party at all.  There will be  a battle for the governor’s mansion again in 2010 and the GOP had better start girding for that fight right now or it will be lights out.