As promised, after posting my quick thoughts on Wednesday’s Cape GOP convention on Friday, here my non-cliff notes thoughts on the event.
If you’ve read my cliff notes post, or the numerous articles written about the event, or seen the video and/or pictures, then you know it was a well attended, well received event which ended in endorsing Will Morey and Kristine Gabor for Freeeholder (and would have done it for Senate and Assembly candidates if they had drawn a new map on time). So instead of re-capping what everyone already knows, let’s take a look at the bigger implications of the event.
Open Candidate Selection Process Restores Trust
Trust in politicians and political parties, which was never very good to begin with, is at an all time low. Holding an open endorsement process, therefore, helps to rebuild that trust on three fronts. The first and most obvious is that an open and transparent process is much more trusted than a closed door process. Secondly, in 2010 voters in general, and Republicans & Tea Partiers in particular, sent a clear message that they were fed up with our elected leaders and their parties. By immediately changing the endorsement process from one that favored the edict of the County Chair to one that favors the choice of democratically elected delegates, by immediately rejecting the old process that favored those in power and embracing a new process that favors participation by all, the Cape May GOP is letting voters know they got the message. Finally, Chairman Michael Donohue demonstrated to both party members and voters that when he said he was going to change things, he meant it. He kept a promise he made to those who voted for him, a trait voters have been finding lacking in their leaders lately.
Public Demonstration of the Cape May GOP’s Organizational Strength
Despite strong 2010 general election results, there are a few people who question the organizational prowess of the Cape May GOP and its ability to function effectively in the 2011 election cycle. Those people have now had their questions answered: the Cape May GOP can.
I’ve been to conventions before, I’ve helped organize conventions before. I know how easily a convention can go wrong, and how hard it is to throw a good one. By throwing an organized, well executed convention that accommodated a large number of attendees, utilized an efficient voting process and received positive attention from numerous media outlets, the Cape May GOP publicly demonstrated its ability to effectively mobilize and execute at a level at or above what is needed for a successful election this November. Additionally, both the party’s pre-event promotion and registration and post-event communications are indications of the party’s ability to easily convey a message quickly and efficiently amongst its base and mobilize them, which will come in handy this election season.
Generated Energy and Enthusiasm Amongst the Republican Base
The previous candidate endorsement process was not one which was conducive to rallying the troops. Closed door processes rarely are. Afterall, its hard to convince people to donate time and money to someone they had no say in picking.
The Cape May GOP convention and endorsement process energized every delegate, elected official and volunteer who attended. There was so much excitement in the room that you could almost cut it with a knife. And they did it in March of a year with the least headline grabbing races possible; no president, senate, congress or governor on the ballot. The only people I’ve seen who are more excited and optimistic about winning in November this year are named Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.
Enthusiasm is a needed political commodity that cannot be bought, it has to be generated and earned. By bringing together the party into one room and allowing the organizations members to pick their endorsement, the Cape May GOP kicked off the election season by infusing all the delegates with a desire to win this November, a desire they can take back to their local clubs. This will result in a fired up activist base that the Cape GOP can call upon
This convention was a great start to the 2011 election cycle, and is a great indication that Cape May Republicans will rise to the occasion this year.