Well, it was my first RPV Convention and to say the fireworks were flying would be an understatement. From some anonymous sources who attended the Convention on Friday, I heard that it was contentious and that many Ron Paul supporters were causing trouble (memo to the RPV: You can’t ignore them. They happen to care about the party as much as conservatives do, and they want change in the party’s leadership). Most of the trouble was caused when they tried to overthrow Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling from being named Temporary Chairman of the Convention. Now, I do not see why allowing Bolling to be the Temporary Chairman would cause any problems. What’s the big deal?
Since my former computer (a four-year old Dell Inspiron) was unable to connect to free wireless, I had to resort to typing notes from the Convention, thus meaning no live-blogging . Upon arriving to the Convention, there was this great feeling of uncertainty felt by many Republicans. Was it going to be Marshall or Gilmore? Were we going to elect Jeff Frederick or John Hager as Chairman of the RPV? There was an overwhelming amount of energy by many delegates and a great rallying cry for change. Additionally, there were some interesting fliers being distributed by the U.S. Senate and RPV Chairman candidates stating that they would be the best candidate for the job.
The morning started with great speeches from both Bolling and Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. Throughout both speeches, there was talk about party unity and how our party will win both the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General in 2009. It was uplifting to hear that message, as well as hearing McDonnell mention that we should unite around the Republican principles of limited government, reducing taxes, respect of the rule of law, and more accountability in government.
After the initial round of speeches, there were the nominations for the U.S. Senate Candidates. The nominations for Jim Gilmore were the first. These nominations began with Rep. Eric Cantor, who mentioned that Gilmore had a solid Conservative record and a dedication for addressing the energy crisis that our country is currently facing. Rep. Thelma Drake also seconded the nomination of Gilmore stating that he had a solid record of fixing problems and standing by his promises, whether it was reducing taxes. After both of these nominations, Gilmore received other seconded nominations from various State Delegates and party leaders.
As soon as the nominations closed, Gilmore addressed the Convention with great fanfare. While there seemed to be a large number of Marshall supporters in the audience, Gilmore supporters were also there to support their candidate. Gilmore motivated the crowd by mentioning his proposals for fixing the current energy crisis and further mentioned that we need to stay the course in Iraq. Of course, Gilmore mentioned that he is the party’s best chance to defeat Mark Warner in the general election.
Then, the nominations for Bob Marshall began. Both Patrick McSweeney and State Senator and Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli seconded Marshall’s nomination. Cuccinelli gave a rousing speech about Marshall’s nomination by quoting George Mason and Patrick Henry. He mentioned that Marshall would represent our Commonwealth in the U.S. Senate by following the Constitution and would stand for pro-life, pro-family, would be an anti-tax Senator, and how his energy proposals would help our country.
Marshall addressed the crowd and his supporters by stating his record in the Virginia General Assembly. He mentioned his success with making marriage between one man and one woman a Constitutional amendment, the overthrow of H.B. 3202, and his votes protecting the sanctity of life. Marshall also addressed the current energy crisis that our country is facing, and he mentioned that he is in favor of utilizing coal as a source and relying on the natural resources as a form of energy production.
In the end, Marshall lost by 1% of the vote to Gilmore. Marshall conceded gracefully, and Gilmore accepted the nomination. It was a hard fought effort for Marshall, but with his strong crowd of supporters, anything is possible in the future. Gilmore’s acceptance speech touched on the need for drilling in ANWR and continuing to strengthen national security.
The greatest battle of the day was the RPV Chairman’s race. After receiving negative fliers from both campaigns, I wanted to see a message of change come from both John Hager and Jeff Frederick. I am a Frederick supporter and listening to Hager’s message of saying the party needed stability was very disheartening. There was no ideas on what will improve and strengthen our party for the future. It was not motivating.
However, Jeff Frederick’s speech touched on exactly what many of the Convention delegates wanted to hear. Frederick mentioned that our party needs to return to Conservative principles and how we need to motivate the grassroots to get our message out to voters. It was a refreshing message and it talked about what we need to do for the future.
Frederick won the Chairmanship, and it wasn’t even close. John Hager addressed the crowd with lots of emotion and conceded.
Overall, the RPV Convention rallied and unified the party. This upbeat momentum will deliver us victories in November and beyond.