Buzz – RNC Winter Meeting, Day 3

Day 3 of the RNC meeting Buzz starts with Regional breakfast meetings, a general business session, and then members had a closed-door lunch.  The day wrapped up with strategy sessions.

At the Regional breakfast we focus on, perhaps obviously, unique Western Region matters and issues.  We introduce new members (and guests) and each state (and territory) gives an update.  The RNC Chairman and Co-chairman move from region to region to give their update.

Buzz and background that came out of this morning’s meeting include great financial news.  In my other reports, I already keep you abreast of RNC fundraising and how we’re beating the DNC each month.  Buzz here is how Chairman Priebus, Co-chairman Day and Chief of Staff Jeff Larson cut expenses by 1/3 this past year.  The RNC is more active and the messaging is better than last cycle.  Convention planning and preparation is back on track.  And,…………at only 2/3 the expenses originally budgeted!

RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson has oversight of these RNC meetings because he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the RNC.  Jeff has run for office, been (very) successful in the business world, worked in politics and was a partner in a political consulting firm.  He was also the CEO for the highly successful National Convention in Minneapolis.  He came out of a comfortable life to take the RNC job because of a sense of duty to the Republican party.  He doesn’t need to do this, effectively run the daily RNC operations, but he is one of my personal heroes and I am pleased that he serves Republicans.

Between meetings, I sat with several states’ leaders to find out how they turned around their debt issues and rebuilt their grassroots infrastructure.  They had to rebuild donors’ trust that the party was again functioning as a state party and that their money would not be misspent (then, get them to donate).  The HRP cut many expenses but last month still showed an increase in debt.  With our state leadership change a couple months ago, the FEC reports next week will show if donors are back.  One chair here in New Orleans said ‘the best way for a chair to demonstrate that he (I’ll add, or she) can raise money … to raise money.”  Next, they worked on member and public communications.  The HRP needs to fight against our decade-long tendency to narrow our base, or to be less inclusive, rather than working with all our coalitions, organizations and campaigns.  We push people away, from one direction or the other, and we keep losing races …. and asking why.  Next up is our district caucus meetings and we’ll have a good indication of the shape of our grassroots, though the caucus results may not be immediately announced.  We will also see, in a month’s time (or so) how well our communications do towards getting people energized in big numbers to participate in the Presidential Caucus.

This afternoon, Priebus gave an overview of his home state’s (Wisconsin) trip to the 2008 convention.  It was a good overview for new state leaders.  Several other functional area leaders gave presentations – voter identification, communications and digital media.

Some chairs were talking with Louisiana chair Villere, subject: “How did you do it?”   Louisiana Governor Jindal won overwhelmingly in his October reelection and Republicans hold every statewide seat.  Villere also led the state party to increased Republican majorities in both the house and senate.  I work with Villere with the Republican SuperPAC.  Super PACs are under fire for (mostly unintended) undermining national and state party fundraising efforts.  To differentiate, when asked, Villere made the point that Republican SuperPAC calls on donors to first max out the respective candidate and then to the party before giving to our SuperPAC.

There are a couple Romney campaign staffers still here and a Rick Perry surrogate (a committee man) was leaving the meeting early to get back on the campaign trail.

In the general session, all the committees gave updates and reports.  One committee closed it’s doors – the committee to determine the Presidential nominating schedule has completed their work.

The buzz is that we won’t have a Presidential nominee before April 24.  That is when it is calculated that a candidate could have enough delegates (or is forecasted to do so) to win the nomination.  It should be obvious that anyone in the lead wants the process to be over and those chasing want it to go on longer…. until they are in the lead.

David Chang is here for his first RNC meeting.  He gave the Hawaii report at the Regional breakfast this morning.  Ted Liu came as Miriam Hellreich’s guest and she helped introduce Ted to some committee members.  With so many people here from Hawaii, you should eventually see several reports covering the varied activities and meetings in New Orleans.

Tonight is a reception at the WWII Museum with Mississippi Governor Bryant speaking.  One note from last night: Mary Matalin, who lives down here, was a surprise guest at the dinner.

A lot of folks will leave tonight to get back to their states.  Tomorrow morning is the closing breakfast and most everyone still here will head towards their homes and state campaigns.  It will help if we all pray for our friends in the battleground states, that they will be blessed to perform to the best of their abilities.  It has been another good meeting.  If there is anything more of a ‘Buzz’ nature, I’ll send it tomorrow.  Otherwise, I’ll be in contact with you back in Hawaii.

Our State Committee meets next weekend to elect me or my opponent as National Committee Man to serve the whole Hawaii Republican Party for the remainder of the current term of office.  I have written you and spoken to most of the voters.  I am passionate about the party and I am asking for the opportunity to again serve.  My HRP leadership experience as state Vice-Chairman, Rules Committee Chairman and State Chairman can be helpful to the HRP, our counties and our candidates.  I have a proven record of raising money for our party, sorely needed to erase the $110,000 debt and fund our electioneering.  I know we can win at the top of the ticket without sacrificing our state races but only if we have balance and experience on the leadership team.  You’ve seen my work, not just talk.  You have also seen that I can work with our candidates who span the conservative spectrum.  You already know from my term as State Chairman that I am not a place-holder.  My focus is on the party.  I am dedicated to electing Republicans.

That’s the buzz from New Orleans.  More frequent flier miles coming up on the flight home.


Aloha, Willes