California GOP 2011 Fall Convention

The California Republican Party had their most recent convention this past weekend.

Here are some musings that will give the event short shrift, which sadly enough is what the national media did.

I attend the conventions despite not being a delegate. I respect that many attend to do the nuts and bolts of reshaping and reinvigorating the party. They have the hard work.

I am there for the cameraderie. I get to see old friends, make new ones, and business network.

Yet one thing is true. The California Republican Party (CRP) is in shambles. New Chairman Tom Del Beccaro inherited a mess, but unlike Barack Obama he is not crying about it.

A reported 1600 people attended. Georgia and South Carolina are much smaller states, and they get up to twice as many people. Texas had nearly ten times as many people at their last convention. 1600 was actually considered good for the CRP. This is pathetic. How can a state with 20 million Republicans get only 1600 people to show up?

Yes, this is an off year election, but the other side never stops working. There is no offseason in politics anymore, not with the stakes this high.

The CRP holds these conventions twice per year, one in Northern California and one in Southern California. Because both areas are so large, sometimes the conventions are held in places far away from everybody, such as Indio (in Riverside past Palm Springs).

This convention was held in Los Angeles, but even that was questionable. The last LA Convention was held in Century City, a wealthy area just outside of Beverly Hills. This one was held in Downtown Los Angeles, an absolutely terrible place to be. The JW Marriott at LA Live is near Staples Center, and it is the worst of all possible worlds: an incredibly overpriced entity in a poor area. The hotel charged for internet access, making me grateful I could just drive home rather than stay there.

Yet as sad as the location and the turnout were, the bigger frustration came in who was…and was not…in attendance.

The opening night dinner featured presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. As always, she lit it up. She received several standing ovations. The theme of the weekend was Republican women, and she kicked it off with a ringing endorsement of conservative values economically and in foreign policy.

The liberal media in attendance could barely contain their contempt for her. After she finished speaking, I heard several of them gossiping and sneering. One reporter from the LA Times, one from the Sacramento Bee, and a couple from some Buzz publication nobody has ever heard of or read could not wait to savage her. I have not read their columns yet, and have left their names out of it until I can confirm that they wrote hit pieces.

The second night dinner featured Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs. She is an incredibly nice person who asks people to call her Mary. She represents the moderate wing of the GOP, and the big tent inclusion of her shows that the ideological diversity of the Republican Party is alive and well in California.

The California Federation of Republican Women were prominently in attendance, including current President Marianne Hedstrom and past President Kathy Brugger. If it were not for the CFRW, the GOP would not win a thing again as long we lived. The women give the men the desperately needed kick in the pants. They need to kick harder.

Lunches featured Dennis Prager and Frank Luntz, while hospitality suites were represented by the Log Cabin Republicans, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, the Irvine Republican Council, and others.

The College Republicans politicked during the day and partied at night, with their battle cry being heard throughout the hotel.

“Ole, ole ole ole…get drunk…get drunk.”

They remain a fun bunch.

The Young Republicans settled their turf wars and seemed to finally be united. Time will tell.

Yet while many good people were in attendance, many were not. Most of the presidential candidates ignored the convention. They came to California a week earlier for the presidential debate at the Reagan Library, but had zero interest in the convention. In addition to Congresswoman Bachmann, only one other candidate showed up.

Ron Paul spoke, and his supporters remain savage barbarians. As usual, these dopey college students shouted about fiscal responsibility while being given free tickets to attend. They yelled about revolution up and down the hallways, disrupting vendors and even yelling in the face of one of the bartenders just trying to serve drinks.

Naturally Ron Paul won the straw poll by buying the most tickets. None of the other candidates bought any. Only 900 people voted, and Dr. Paul received about 45% of the vote. Naturally the people from the planet Rapulon will declare a mandate until real returns come in an reduce them to irrelevance.

The remaining presidential candidates simply reminded California how little it matters to them. It is the job of the CRP to change that perception. Tis convention did not do that.

There were no high level Fox News personnel in attendance. In fact, CNN may not have had anybody attend. Outside of local media, there was simply no interest. Except for the right to attack Michele Bachmann, the press showed boredom. This was not Iowa or South Carolina.

There is serious work to be done in California, and the CRP has a lot to do. Yet getting people to care and spurring them into action is proving hopeless. If 1600 people is galvanized, I would hate to see a low disaffected turnout.

The next CRP Convention is in Burlingame in Northern California next Spring. Time will tell if the CRP has a pulse by then.

California is my home and I believe in the Republican Party. I care, and wish more did as well.

To the attendees, including the many volunteers, their dedication in this uphill battle is always appreciated.


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