Saturday, February 04, 2006

WVGOP Holds Winter Conference, Candidate Training

I spent yesterday evening and today at the Charleston Embassy Suites, where the state Republican Party held its winter conference and candidate training seminar.

Yesterday evening, the party held a reception where over 50 candidates and dozens of activists (like me) and supporters mingled and discussed the current legislative session and upcoming campaign. The vast majority of our federal and legislative candidates were in attendance. (Pics)

Today, Republican candidates attended the party's first candidate training seminar of the year. This was an informative and exciting event, following the successful programs during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns that have resulted in more than a doubling of the number of Republicans in the state Senate and an identical gain of 7 seats in the House of Delegates.

While the members of next year's legislative majority were learning the nuts and bolts of successful campaigning from their forebears, the Republican state committee held its winter meeting nearby. The highlights of this meeting included the presentation of positive financial reports for the state party and the committee's unanimous adoption of a proposal to hold a Republican state convention in January or February of 2008 to select most of our delegates to the Republican National Convention.

With the state committee's action, the West Virginia GOP will leap to the front of the presidential nominating process. Under the adopted plan, nearly 1200 delegates from across the state--elected by the various county executive committees--will gather in Charleston to determine which presidential candidate will the state's at-large (statewide) delegates to the national convention, winner-take-all. Three delegates will still be elected from each congressional district at the May primary election.

I really cannot overstate the importance of West Virginia taking a lead role in the selection of the next Republican presidential nominee. Those of you who like to cure your insomnia by watching C-SPAN at night have all seen numerous presidential contenders address numerous local party events in Iowa and New Hampshire. The WVGOP will now receive the same exposure from these leaders of our party and give Republicans at all levels a reason to be politically active year-round.

Of course, it's all about the money: Fundraising for the state & county GOP committees and candidates will become far easier as prospective presidential candidates start familiarizing themselves as much with places like Logan, Beckley, and Morgantown, as they have with places like Des Moines, Manchester, and Concord. Let the fun begin!