Ready for Rudy? GOP gathers in Sacramento

A new year brings many things. It is a time of renewal and of new beginnings. In the world of politics, especially after an election year, it is a time to celebrate last year’s victories, analyze last year’s defeats and gear up for the battles to come. 2007 is even more important because the election cycle that has begun will culminate in the election of the next president on November 4, 2008. 2008 will be the most open presidential campaign since 1928 in that the current president is not up for re-election and his vice president is not running to succeed him.

Given the stakes, it promises to be one of the most hard-fought and pivotal elections in many years. With many states, including California, looking to move up their primaries and caucuses to early 2008, this cycle has started even earlier than in the past. For both Republicans and Democrats the work has already begun.

This weekend Republicans will converge on Sacramento for their first convention since the 2006 election. The main purpose of this convention is to elect the new chairman, board members and other party leaders that will lead the CRP in the 2008 election cycle. Current CRP Chairman Duf Sundheim, will be stepping down after leading the party for the last four years.

Sundheim lead the party through some of the most challenging times in California political history, including the Recall of 2003 that put Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor’s office, the contentious 2005 special election, and the successful re-election of Governor Schwarzenegger and election of Steve Poizner insurance commissioner in 2006. Last year was a very difficult one for Republicans nationally and the Democratic wave that swept the country was felt even in California.

The presumptive new Chairman is Ron Nehring, who has been serving as vice-chairman and also leads the San Diego County Central Committee. Nehring brings a wealth of experience to the position and his leadership in San Diego was instrumental in building a strong organization and turning out the vote at election time.

There are competitive elections for the other key positions so it should make for an exciting weekend of good old fashioned electioneering. When it all is said and done come Sunday, the CRP will have in place the new leadership team that will be leading Republicans to victory in 2008.

There also looks to be plenty of discussion about moving the California Presidential Primary to February 5, 2008. Because that proposal is likely to involve a relaxation of term limits, the delegates will have plenty to say as the party has fought against this proposal in the past.

The highlight of this convention will be the Saturday keynote address by America’s mayor and new presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The event is already sold out and there will be many members of the national press corps in attendance. It will be a great kick-off to the 2008 campaign and Republicans are very excited about hearing from the mayor and his ideas for the future of America.

A political party is like a big extended family. There are many viewpoints. Inevitably when that is the case there are disagreements and differences of opinion. That is true in both major political parties and that is healthy. You can’t have an honest debate without that diversity of thought and ideas.

Forty years ago Ronald Reagan said: “Within our tent, there will be many arguments and divisions over approach and method and even those we choose to implement our philosophy. Seldom, if ever, will we raise a cheer signifying unanimous approval of the decisions reached. But if our philosophy is to prevail, we must at least pledge unified support of the ultimate decision. Unity does not require unanimity of thought.”

His words still ring true today.

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