Steve Bannon at the State GOP convention

Former White House chief strategist and senior counselor Steve Bannon was the keynote speaker tonight at the opening dinner of the California Republican Party's 2017 fall convention in Anaheim.

"Steven Bannon is not shy about taking on the establishment on behalf of hard-working Americans," California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said. "He is a leading voice in the effort to drain the swamp in Washington D.C., a change desperately needed since it has limited our progress."

When Bannon, now executive chairman of the conservative media outlet Breitbart News, was announced as a speaker last Friday, Assemblyman Chad Mayes, a former Assembly Republican leader, wrote a series of critical tweets.

"I was shocked by today's announcement by the CRP," Mayes, R-Rancho Mirage, tweeted. "It's a huge step backward and demonstrates that the Party remains tone deaf and intellectually dishonest with the vast majority of Californians.

"As in life, you can't have it both ways and today's announcement made clear the direction the party wants to go."

Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon told the Los Angeles Times Bannon is "very popular" among "the party faithful" who will be attending the three-day convention at the Anaheim Marriott.

What organizers are pledging will be a peaceful protest will be held outside the hotel before and during Bannon's speech.

"We will not tolerate any kind of rioting or violence," said Michelle Fowle, The Resistance-Northridge, Indivisible leader, which is organizing the protest along with Indivisible OC 46.

The groups are also asking for donations to Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization which assists former members of violent far-right groups.

The Resistance-Northridge, Indivisible bills itself as "a volunteer group of progressives in Northridge who are working together to drive political change at the local level."

Indivisible OC 46 is based in Orange County's 46th Congressional District and exists "to resist the Trump agenda based on a defensive and local strategy."

Saturday's agenda includes a lunch banquet speech by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, afternoon speeches by Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro, writer Stephen Moore, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and conservative activist Charlie Kirk; and a dinner banquet speech by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas.

The convention will conclude Sunday with a general session considering resolutions.

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