Ah, the convention. Sometimes I think the only reason there is a Republican Party in this state anymore is to have their semi-annual party – think of it as a social club for the politically marginalized. Sure, it may not match the four-day slumber party currently in progress over in the state Senate, but it might place a close second.
Sure, the convention may be less relevant than a Dave Cox floor speech, but there are some old guidelines that still apply. To be sure, there's nothing you need to know about Republicans that you couldn't glean from watching the last week of budget proceedings. Watching the Senate Reeps take out Dave Cogdill reminds me of a nature special I saw once on muskrats that eat their young, but I digress.
Here are a few things conventioneers may want to keep in mind.
The key to it all is Saturday, or rather, Saturday night. Be sure to drink heavily and sleep in late so that you miss Sunday's proceedings. Remember, nothing worthwhile at a convention happens on the floor – unless it's under a table in a hospitality suite – and everything worthwhile happens behind closed doors when people of power and personality gather stealthily to plot strategy. Even in an era when amateurs and ideologues vastly outnumber the political pros, the real business of a convention is conducted everywhere but in the public arena.
Always remember that people who don't drink or play cards can't be trusted. Not in the Legislature, not in the party and certainly not in everyday life.
Reporters, columnists, pundits, party hacks, wives, mistresses, consultants, elected state officials, elected local officials, T-shirt vendors, button vendors, academics, lobbyists, union reps, party employees and legislative staffers will attend the convention. Ignore everybody but the party employees and the legislative staffers to find out what's really going on — they always know.
Whatever you do, avoid the reporters. You can't trust them anymore. You never know if they have applied for jobs in the building or the administration, and they could be setting you up. Avoid Capitol Weekly at all costs; you could wind up on Pg. 3 under an ugly headline that has your name misspelled.
Never go swimming in the hotel pool.
Under no circumstances cozy up to the wife of a legislator. Somebody will find out and you'll be whacked good. Memories are long in this town and revenge is a dish best served cold. If your cover gets blown, it'll become the talk of the convention hall ("Hey, did you hear about Joe who got caught in the governor's suite with those two massage therapists?"). The gossip will ricochet from room to room, and the knowing glances will intensify when people meet you during the weekend. And year's later, people will refer to the 2009 GOP gathering in terms of your personal disaster rather than anything that happened at the convention. ("Hey, I was there in 2009, when Joe got caught with those two therapists. Helluva convention!)