News

The GOP convention I attended was different than the one I read about

Get two Republicans together, and invariably they will talk about how
members of the media always want to portray the GOP as a party divided. Add
to it a concerted effort by some to promote that story, and you have a
recipe for a disconnection between what is real and what we read in the
news.

Take, for example, the recent state GOP convention in San Jose. I have been
to contentious State Republican Party conventions. The GOP convention that
just took place in San Jose a week and a half ago was not one. As a matter
of fact, for almost all of the nearly 1,000 participants, it was a fun,
productive weekend with great speakers, informative workshops, lots of
networking opportunities and terrific parties.

But you wouldn’t have known it from reading headlines in the news like, “GOP
Tries To Head Off A Mutiny,” or “Calls For Unity Lost Amid GOP Uproar.”
Reading newspaper coverage preceding the convention, and the coverage that
followed, you would think that this convention was tantamount to the
gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The media wanted to write about a battle
between party conservatives and the party’s moderate Governor, and so they
did.

Virtually all Republicans at the convention were positive and supportive of
the Governor’s re-election. And, virtually all conventioneers have some
degree of problem with the Governor’s policy shifts since the end of last
year–ranging from confusion or concern to downright frustration or anger.

That said, let me paint this picture for you –which I will call the “tale of
two fifties.” At this convention, you had around fifty very vocal and active
conservatives (who would fall under the “angry” category above) who whipped
up eager news reporters by introducing a group of resolutions at the
convention–poking at the Governor’s policy shifts to the left.

The other group involved with this behind-the-scenes action was what we’ll
call the “Arnold 50.” These folks, using the threat from the “conservative
50″ of pulling the party endorsement of Schwarzenegger (made bigger than
life by the press, and bloggers wanting to make sure the Governor got the
big hint about unhappiness with his policy shifts), engaged in a weeks-long
public relations campaign complete with numerous mass mailings to delegates
signed by many GOP luminaries. These folks, most of whom probably share
concerns about the policy shifts by the Governor, signed letters opposing
the never-viable pulling of the endorsement. Not a controversial position. I
opposed pulling the endorsement myself.

There was never a threat of the Governor losing his pre-primary endorsement.
Even amongst the “conservative 50” there was never broad support for it. The
threat was larger than life because the media wanted to write the same story
about GOp conventions that they’ve been writing for the last 10 years–that
Republicans are locked in a civil war.

At the convention itself, the “battle” was waged in relative obscurity,
taking place in the resolutions committee meeting, and at a few staged press
events. But by and large, most delegates read about the “division” in the
newspaper and wondered they were at the same convention.

Oh, there was a civil debate on the floor of the convention, where the 90%
of delegates who weren’t involved in the backroom struggles generally voted
their conscience, passing a resolution supporting the idea that the Governor
should appoint more Republican judges, and taking votes that showed support
for balanced budgets and opposition to general obligation bonds.

But there no dramatic confrontations in hallways, or nasty flyers
distributed under hotel doors in the dead of the night–there were no mean
signboards, or heckling of speakers.

Republican Party activists are looking for the Governor to proudly govern as
a Republican. If Arnold Schwarzenegger embraces core Republican principles
and policies over the next seven months, he’ll have all of the GOP support
he needs.

As for our friends in the mainstream media –they will all be at next month’s
Democratic State Convention. But Republicans already know what to expect to
read in the newspapers


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: