Continuing Advance Coverage

CPAC currently leads in the polls, and since I may otherwise be engaged this weekend, the Advance is looking out for me. However, that doesn’t mean an end to our continuing team coverage of RPV’s Advance this weekend. I’m working on plans for a correspondent during the event. Bella has volunteered, but unfortunately there’s no way for me to humanely get her there, and I have yet to discover a way to discreetly mike her, despite the large frame of your average Norwegian Forest cat. Not that I think that a cat would be out of place. This is the confab where there will be much discussion of the Grand Old Party’s new outreach to a wider swath of voters, and I can only assume that includes Feline Americans, given the “Cat Lovers for McDonnell” button I spotted on the trail (and still seek for my collection, FYI).

Ok, enough of my insane ramblings. On to my very real thoughts about the coming weekend. First, some background on the event. It was started by former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Donald S. Huffman, who served from 1983 to 1992. The event is an annual gathering of Republican activists to both discuss the past election’s results (there’s one every year in Virginia) as well as to prepare for the coming year. One would think this of this as a retreat, right? Well, Huffman and the original organizers were of the mind that the GOP should never retreat but always “advance.”

Quaint, yes, but the event has become an annual affair where people are always on the lookout for who is jockeying for position. The hospitality suites themselves have become the stuff of news, as who hosts them (and their respective crowds) is seen as a marker of who’s up and who’s down. Also noticed are the various speeches which have a tendency to set the tone for policy debates about to occur in the coming General Assembling session.

SWAC Girl has her thoughts up, pointing out that homeschool activist Mike Farris will be speaking at the breakfast on Saturday and that the luncheon on Saturday will play host to Governor-elect Bob McDonnell’s first public speech since his election November 3rd. She is one voice I’ll rely on for coverage, along hopefully with Krystle Weeks of Crystal Clear Conservative.

The Advance has come under fire in recent years for being an exclusive event long on glitz and short on training. Indeed, three of the last five have been at the posh Homestead Resort in Bath County–quite a drive for Northern Virginians and out of the pocketbook of many activists. Much of this rests is due to the constant merry-go-round of chairmen that has beleaguered the party since the early part of the decade. Indeed, current congressman Randy Forbes is the last party chair to serve his four year entire term, and that was back in 2000. Although this year’s Advance still comes with a steep price tag, the event seems to be long on education.

There’s going to be five, count ’em, FIVE seperate discussions of New Media. The names are not just any random bloggers, either. They include Lynn Mitchell, who has probably one of the most influential blogs in the region, with her words having both digital and real world impact; the minds behind ProjectVirginia, whose guidance helped a number of small races across the state make great use of social networking; Tim Murtaugh, RPV’s communications director who brought us often hilarious and always stinging videos about Creigh Deed’s ghost-like campaign; and Vince Harris, the mind behind McDonnell’s stellar efforts this year and the extremely popular blog Too Conservative.

There will also be two round tables discussing the results, one with AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli and another with Speaker Howell. Perhaps most importantly, there will also be workshops on three items that should be the cornerstones of any Unit Chairman’s knowledge: legal, data collection and storage, and fund raising. The legal workshop is particularly notable for some of the luminaries it will feature, including Chris Berg, who was my liaison with the legal department during the closing days of the campaign and who has an amazing amount of knowledge regarding the “death by a thousand cuts” approach of the Unions and Democrats. Also on tap: Cameron Quinn, a former Chair of the State Board of Elections.

Also notable: the hospitality suites. As expected, three candidates for Congress in the Second district will host receptions. This is natural, given that the event is right next door to the district and will likely draw a larger proportion of its crowd from the region. The only thing curious about this is who ISN’T hosting a suite: Chuck Smith, who has been gunning hard for the seat since late 2008, to the point where he was shaking almost every hand at the RPV State Convention (and actually had to be asked to leave the lunch pick-up area to keep the crowd moving).

More curious: Feda Kidd Morton is hosting a suite the day before the Fifth District Committee selects its nominating method. Certainly, Morton is picking up a great deal of statewide support, but why put all that money and time into an event not even in the district? Certainly this race is going to become the focus of a great deal of statewide attention, but endorsements from Pat McSweeney and Kathy Hayden Terry only get you so far. It’s going to be up to the activists to decide this one, particularly if it ends up being a convention.

Her presence may very well be due to McSweeney himself. McSweeney is speaking on fighting ObamaCare at the Virginia State PAC suite at 9 P.M. on Friday. I did a little bit of research and discovered that the Virginia State PAC was created out of the leftover funds of former Delegate Richard Black’s campaign committee, who lost to now Former Delegate David Poisson in 2005. Black may be best noted for being an incredibly outspoken opponent of abortion, going so far as to once handing out plastic fetuses to colleauges. So far the Virginia State PAC has no receipts outside of the leftovers of Black’s PAC, and so far the only donations it has made has been to Ken Cuccinelli and Bob Marshall, certainly two candidates that meet McSweeney and Black’s criteria. Could this be a sign of new organizing efforts on the social conservative front (along with the ostensibly non-political Restoring the Founder’s Vision group, also headed by McSweeney)?

Intrigue abounds this holiday season.

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