Mar 052014

If you’re a political insider, you’ve probably heard about the CRA 2014 Convention. The energy level, buzz, excitement and the attendance were unseen in the 17 years I have been a CRA member.

Some told me that they have not seen a CRA Convention like this since the days of John Courtney. (President 1991-1992)

The picture is of me Emceeing the Saturday evening dinner. In that dinner, I got to introduce Igor Birman whose speech received a standing ovation. I also got to introduce Tim Donnelly who ultimately got the CRA endorsement with a unanimous vote on Sunday.

Beyond Tim Donnelly, we had future leaders of the CaGOP like Nathan Miller, CYRF President, Assembly-Member Melissa Melendez, CRA-Endorsed candidates like Phillip Chen, Paul Tanaka and soon-to-be-CRA-endorsed Young Kim.

It was amazing, really to see an old CRA Stalwart like Mike Morrell almost look out of place with the youth and minority movement in the CA GOP.

When you add in Media Personalities like Ann-Marie Murrell, Tea Party legend Sharron Angle and Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz to the mix you had a diversified mix of speakers and people to relate to all attenders.

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This year was the first time we consolidated local endorsing conventions with the state convention as well. Some of the newly gerrymandered districts almost necessitated doing it this way as in some cases units with jurisdiction are 200 miles apart.

6 years ago, I went to a local CRA Convention with 7 units having jurisdiction. 4 of the 7 were populated almost exclusively with staff as delegates. 2 more had staff amongst their delegations. I made a decision then and there that the era of consultant manipulation and endorsement fraud was going to end or I would leave politics altogether.

The effort to purge the fraud and the paper units from the CRA had its’ genesis then. A lot of people have different stories about how it went down – but needless to say, almost all of the fake units are gone now. The epic fight of 2011 and the lesser internal officer elections of 2013 are a distant memory.

When John W. Briscoe made history becoming the first challenger to unseat a sitting CRA President since the 1970’s, it was done with a simple message – “Expect More”.

The CRA has escaped the morass.

CRA membership is up 20%. New Units are coming back together. Existing moribund units have been revitalized with new members. In fact, the SLO CRA went from 2 members to 36 members, the Ventura RA from 3 to over 40 and the old, dead CNRA came back to life as the N San Fernando Valley RA. We have a unit in Pasadena again. We have a new unit in Northern SD County. Kern River Valley and Shasta RA are back, doubling their membership.

You saw that this weekend at the convention with attendance of real CRA members not seen in a generation. The days of tons of college kids showing up as delegates from bogus units are gone now.

Some have been critical of some of the local CRA endorsements. The CRA is a bottom-up organization where the local units decide. The local units made their own call. Political Consultants were relegated to having to do it the old fashioned way – buy advertising and/or sponsorships, sending operatives to work the delegates and candidates showed up in droves.

This is a far cry from that local endorsing convention where staff outnumbered real CRA members. This is a far cry from the 2010 or 2011 conventions where the attack of staff nearly usurped the will of real CRA members.

The personal vision I had set out in 2008 is now a reality. I’d like to thank all those that bought in and took ownership of it as well. It has come at a high price, but the “payoff” is a healthy CRA on the mend and controlled by no one other than the CRA members themselves.

I ran for CRA VP and won. The time was right – I fought wars as the CRA Sgt. I will build CRA and make friends as a CRA VP. For this, I will be accountable.

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