Last weekend the California Republican Party held its Fall Convention at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in the heart of Orange County. The event, attended by the better part of a thousand GOP activists and leaders, was a successful one. It has become customary after these conventions for me to publish a “winners and losers” column, singling out those who had a meaningful convention, one way or the other. A big should out to the many people who supplied me with their suggestions. These events are expansive and so it’s helpful to have assistance!
So, without any further introduction, here are this conventions honorees…
Chairman Jim Brulte – As the new Chairman of the State GOP, this convention was Brulte’s first. By every measure that matters, it was a successful event. Given the sudden absence (due to the government shutdown) of many Members of Congress (including NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, who was the scheduled Saturday lunch speaker), Brulte still managed flawless execution.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly – Gubernatorial candidate Donnelly was well received everywhere he was seen at the convention – which was all over the place. The enthusiasm of his supporters was infectious at the confab. If the primary vote was only among CRP convention attendees, Donnelly would be in great shape. But there’s a long way to go until June.
Supervisor Janet Nguyen and Young Kim – Republicans in Orange County are fielding two Asian American candidates in 2014. Nguyen is running for the State Senate, and Kim is running for the State Assembly. Both have been aggressive and hard charging. Here’s convention ‘digital ink’ that both Nguyen and Kim received.
Governor Rick Perry and Dr. Arthur Laffer – The former’s Saturday night dinner remarks and the latter’s Executive Committee luncheon speech laid out with laser focus the positive impacts of pro-growth policies in red states, and the detrimental policies in blue states – specifically, our state.
Nevada County GOP Chairman Deborah Wilder – Days before convention, Wilder found out she’d have preside over the Rules Committee. Wilder stepped up and did an outstanding job, leading an open, inclusive process. Her efforts led to productive meetings despite dealing with divisive topics.
Adam Abrahms, Tony Krvaric and Dave Willmon – Three regional seats on the CRP Board were up at the convention. All were slam dunks for the Los Angeles County, Southern, and Inland Empire Regional Vice Chairmanships, respectively. Congratulations!
Neel Kashkari – Relatively unknown in CRP circles, the talked-about potential Gubernatorial candidate was seen in many places chatting it up with delegates, and enjoying the convention. I spoke with him as did many others from whom I heard. I noted he tweeted a picture from a private meeting he had with Governor Perry, but otherwise kept a low profile.
Aaron Ginn – A newcomer to State GOP politics, Ginn scored a lopsided victory in the race for the obscure office of Associate Representative. This office has always been a “what you make of it” sort of thing – so we’ll see what Ginn makes of it.
State Senator Andy Vidak — Vidak was a superstar at the GOP convention. His recent victory was as a result of a lot of hard work. Many of those from around the state who helped out were gathered, and Vidak was on hand to express his heartfelt appreciation. And to remind them he’s up for election again next year.
Michelle and Shawn Steel — The Board of Equalization Member and RNC National Committeeman, respectively, achieve winner status for their superior engagement with the party’s efforts to include/outreach to Asian Republicans. Michelle moderated a very successful roundtable, and Shawn has trumpeted the RNC’s substantial, tangible investment in California. Bonus points to Shawn for his packed Cigar Smoker event.
Congressional Staffers – No one looked more relaxed at convention then all of the staffers for Members of Congress stuck in Washington, D.C. during the government shut down. For them, a weekend of tough work staffing their bosses turned into a much more relaxing go of it.
BOE Member George Runner and Abram Wilson – These two made strong, articulate comments in the Initiatives Committee as to why the party should endorse the referendum of AB 1266 aka the “Gender Self-Identification In Public Schools” bill. After which the committee overwhelmingly endorsed their position, as did the full convention.
Charles Munger, Jr. – Money talks. Munger continues to drop plenty of cash on internal party politics in order to make sure he dominates the CRP political process. A full employment act for many, Munger succeeded in making even harder than it already was for the CRP to endorse between Republicans going in the jungle June election.
Mark Standriff – The ace communications pro is “back in the saddle” at the CA GOP and the press operations for the convention hummed. This aspect of the convention, handled poorly, can sabotage an otherwise outstanding event. Well done, my friend.
Associated Builders and Contractors – There was a strong presence from this organization, which hosted a well attended “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee High Speed Rail Boondoggle Breakfast” that won critical acclaim from delegates. Many warnings about the negative effects of Project Labor Agreements were also shared.
Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci – The enthusiasm of this dynamic duo from the San Francisco Chronicle in covering conventions is infectious. Besides plenty of column inches in the print edition of the times, their blogging was prolific. Besides, I was awarded one of their “Chronnie” Awards – only winners would honor me thusly.
Vote Tellers at the Inland Area Regional Caucus – Chairman Brulte showed up to vote, but didn’t have a photo ID on him. They made him go back to his room and get it! Oh yes, Brulte knew all of them personally, to no avail.
Convention Q Codes – Kudos to the CRP for moving to “Q” codes on badges for keeping track of meal ticket purchases. Every convention I would routinely lose one. Now they just scanned my badge with a smart phone when I went into each meal function!
Tom Scott – In his role with Californians Against Lawsuit Abuse, Scott went into the CA Republican Lawyers Association to make his pitch. This is like going into a bar and telling the alcohols not to drink. Still, he was articulate, and convincing.
Jimmy Camp and Ron Nehring – While Abel was a flop at convention, it was not due to an organizational failure. While they had a flawed product to sell, these two made sure that Maldonado’s campaign was on steroids all weekend. All told, an impressive , high profile effort.
Abel Maldonado – Maldonado’s strategy that conservative party activists are so anxious to take out Jerry Brown that they will ignore all of his shortcomings didn’t work well at all. Going into the convention Maldonado was already saddled with being the deciding vote on the state’s largest tax increase while in the legislature (after getting elected signing a no new taxes pledge), and authoring Prop. 14, boasting at the time the need to diminish the role of political parties in California. Add to it his decisions to suddenly now support gay marriage, abortion rights, and amnesty for those here illegally and Maldonado would probably fare better at a convention filled with Democrats.
CA Teachers Association – Despite being officially designated as an “unwelcome organization” by the State GOP, the CTA showed up. As if to poke a stick into the eye of convention conservatives, they hosted a hospitality suite opposite the Saturday night dinner featuring Governor Perry. Perhaps they should have gone to the dinner, and hear Perry criticize the poor performance of California schools, and the negative impacts of public employee unions.
The Unknown Button Vendor – I never saw the buttons mentioned in this article. But anyone trying to sell them is a loser.
The Media For Making A Big Deal About The Unknown Button Vendor – Apparently said vendor has a handful of her buttons and sold exactly zero of them. Yet this is big news?
Mike Osborn – Osborn’s five minute CRP Treasurer report concluded with him singling out one person for praise for the CRP’s positive balance sheet – Charles Munger, Jr. He even came over and fawned on the mega-donor, who was sitting nearby. Left unappreciated by his Treasurer was Chairman Jim Brulte. While Munger has written some big checks to the CRP, they are only a fraction of Brulte’s total fundraising over the last six months.
Absent State Legislators – It’s a new era for the California GOP. It’s Chairman is an ex-legislator who once-upon-a-time coined the phrase, “No good can come to a state legislator for attending a CRP Convention.” Now is the time for all of our legislators to attend, many of them did.
National Common Core Standards – In an almost unanimous vote, delegates to the convention passed a resolution that tore this program to shreds. Take note Jeb Bush, et. al.
CRP’s Endorsement Process – Through the adoption of a new, cumbersome and maze-like process for endorsing between competing Republicans before the June elections, the CRP has dis-armed itself in the face of Prop. 14. Parties are no longer guaranteed a run-off berth. This system will make it hard for the GOP to rally, when needed, to push someone into the top two.
That’s it for this edition of Winners and Losers. We’ll bring this feature back next February, after the next convention in Burlingame.