Buzz – RNC Winter Meeting, Day 2

Aloha friends,

Day 2 at the RNC Winter Meeting, New Orleans.  Hard to keep these short and fast, lots happening.

I was with many of these RNC leaders just a couple months ago.  The different RNC regions around the nation had leadership conferences during 2011.  Most RNC leadership and Western Region committee members attended the Western Region Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.  I emailed you reports in October about that conference which began with a Presidential debate.  This meeting is a business meeting for the RNC so the tenor and activities are different than the Las Vegas Conference activities.

RNC Co-chair Sharon Day handles much of the internal operation of the RNC but she has a focus on the women’s vote and grassroots operations.  She is the Florida National Committee Woman and is closely in touch with the presidential campaigns in Florida.  For the primary and in the general election, Florida will again play an important role.  She is particularly pained that her state is in the middle of the delegate penalty discussion.  After all the work and coordination the past four years, Republicans began the nomination process (with the Iowa Caucus) essentially as early as the 2008 cycle.  There is enough dismay with states jumping early, potentially to begin the nomination process the year before a national convention, that several members mentioned proposing even stiffer penalties for 2016.  (Other members are suggesting no penalties).  Today, much of Day’s attention was on the minority outreach program at the end of the day.

Meetings – The Executive Cmte met and state Executive Directors met.  The Committee on Arrangements (for the National Convention), Cmte on Presidential Debates and the Resolutions Cmte met.  The strategy sessions included Message Testing (Ask around.  This is a pet-peeve of mine.  The HRP and our candidates do not do this well, if at all).  Then, we had a session about Hispanic Outreach.  The Hispanic session had a couple of panel members and it was the first time I met Governor Martinez.  You recall from previous reports that I campaigned with her in her Primary in 2010.  I hadn’t seen her since her inauguration, i.e. since she became Governor.  Having been in New Mexico for that campaign, it was nice to get caught up with her and her consultant with whom I have now worked on several campaigns and projects.  The Resolutions Cmte and Cmte on Contests met in the afternoon.

I always attend the Executive Director’s sessions because that’s where the nitty-gritty ‘how are we going to make this stuff work’ discussion occurs.  And, there are times and subjects when it helps to be able to call direct to an ED instead of his or her state chairman.  The discussion was about campaigning and national convention plans, but the buzz is about the difficulty that states are having in resourcing their plans.  While strategy, polling and technology is presented from the podium, most EDs are more worried about their respective state party being able to raise enough funds to fund their Get Out The Vote (In Hawaii, we use Get Out ‘Our’ Vote or GOOV) program, Absentee Ballot program, or voter Identification program.  While the HRP doesn’t currently have an ED, the funding issue is the same.

Back room buzz – the Budget Cmte staff is doing a great job.  One major change in reporting is to count debt as debt when it is incurred, not when it gets paid.  Make sense?  Well, that wasn’t happening until this crew took over the paperwork and analysis for Priebus.  Consequently, the Budget Cmte enjoys having an easier time knowing where the money is (and isn’t) and where it is going.  And, with revenues up and expenditures down as you’ve read in my reports, the RNC is doing a great job.

Preparing a delegation for the national convention is challenging.  In the best of times, the laws and rules (especially concerning funding and expenses) are different than routine times and the coordination with the RNC, CoA and other states is important.  That happens even before we select our delegation.  Several States mentioned to me the possibility of working together for events and speakers in Tampa and I hope the HRP pursues those opportunities.  Many sessions here were geared to preparing new or first time leaders to take their delegation to Tampa next Fall…… and even the experienced leaders attended to ensure they get it right.

The Romney campaign team held an update meeting this afternoon.  I had the opportunity to catch up with Romney’s Political Director with whom I worked when he led the RNC political department and afterwards when he went back to his consulting firm.

These meetings are important and valuable for our HRP RNC members.  Tomorrow is the business session now that the Rules Cmte and Resolutions Cmte (all the Reso’s proposed by the caucus that I work with passed without objection).  HRP policy is to fund our chair’s air/ground transportation and lodging (when HRP has money).  Our committee man and woman foot their own expenses.  Anyone can attend as a guest of a member, guests pay their own way.  I started attending these meetings as a party vice chair in 03.  Making contacts and fully understanding the national level politics, process and procedures helped immensely when I became State Chairman and since that time.  If you are able to (afford and) attend one of these meetings, let one of our committee members know you would like to be their guest.  It is a valuable experience.

Late, late last night, I worked over the phone with my district chair/county vice chair.  We are concerned about district caucus preparation – notification, forms, packets, locations, dates, member lists.  No postcards this year, no money.  My simple message:  please call your district chair for caucus info.  Whether you support my National Committee Man race or not, it would be great to have you all as delegates at our May State Convention.

After Governor Jindal at the reception last night, we had dinner at Irene’s and mixed business with good food.  A very interesting group of friends from several aspect of politics, not just RNC members.  Tonight is dinner at Antoine’s with a guest speaker program initiated by Chairman Priebus last meeting.  Priebus brings back former RNC chairmen to advise and assist on current issues and campaigns.  The program during dinner allows current RNC members insight into some of the difficulties and solutions, anecdotes and elections dealt with by former leaders.  Tonight is former chairmen Ed Gillespie and Frank Fahrenkopf.  For many, it is also a great reunion with lots of folks who they have worked with in the past or still work with on other campaigns.  Side meetings include topics of operations, fundraising, contacts and organization.

More buzz tomorrow.