GOPAC ... again
Way back - hence the name of Mr. Peabody's very excellent machine - in 1998 I was working for the company which is now Dutko Worldwide. I really liked those guys and it is quite possible that if what I'm about to tell you hadn't happened next I would be there still.
Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and was doing a series of National Town Hall Meetings. Another great friend, Sam Dawson, was the squad leader of the small group of people who put together all of them and, until I had that pesky cardiac bypass surgery, I was a member of that team.
He was doing one of those events in, I believe, Charlotte, NC and he swept in with staff, reporters, security and so on. The holding room that we had arranged for him was jammed with Newt-fans and after the required "How-Are-You's" Newt's senior guy, Joe Gaylord, said "We need the room" which is political-speak for "GET OUT, NOW!"
I started for the door and Joe said, "Not you."
"Oh, my," I thought. What had I done now?
Newt having been on the road all day, had stripped down to his t-shirt and was standing over the sink in the holding room, shaving. He asked me how I liked working at Dutko. I told him I liked it fine. Then he said, "I want you to go run GOPAC."
GOPAC was between executive directors. Lisa Nelson, who had led GOPAC through its toughest challenges and greatest achievements, had gone over to the Speaker's Office and there was a search on for a new … Lisa.
A bit of history: Most people who have an opinion, think that Newt invented GOPAC. That is not true. GOPAC was begun by Pete DuPont who recognized that Republicans were having a hard time winning Congressional seats because the GOP's candidates for Congress had no electoral experience.
They were lawyers, or doctors, or business leaders, but they had never run for city council, county commission, or State Legislator. GOPAC, in Gov. DuPont's vision, would build a Republican "farm team" by helping people run for, and get elected to, lower level offices so that when an opportunity to run for a Federal seat presented itself there would be people who had run, had served, and had a base of support.
After my brief discussion of this situation with the Speaker in North Carolina, I called a wonderful guy named Shelly Kamins who was the chairman of GOPAC and told him, effectively, he could call off the search. I'd do it.
I became the executive director of GOPAC in March of 1998. Mr. Kamins and I were a great duo and our team included people like Peter Roff and Mackie Christanson among a very few others who did the work of scores.
In a 2006, Paul Glastris, the editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly magazine wrote:
For decades, the national GOP has invested far more than have Democrats in groups that serve as political farm teams--organizations such as GOPAC which helps aspiring Republicans run for local and state office…
Consequently, "Republicans have more people who know how to do the mechanics of running successful campaigns than Democrats do," notes former GOPAC head Rich Galen. Were it not for this talent imbalance, says Galen, "there's no question Democrats would take over the House, because there's just so much dissatisfaction with Republicans."
As it happened, the "dissatisfaction with Republicans" overwhelmed the GOP in 2006 and the Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate.
The reason for this history lesson is this: The GOPAC board has elected a new chairman: Frank Donatelli.
In the ways of Washington, Frank and I worked at the Fund for America's Future together which was George H.W. Bush's PAC when he was VP. Also, Mrs. Frank Donatelli (AKA Becki) has been a sponsor of Mullings: Campaign Solutions since Day One.
The Republican Party needs good news. Frank Donatelli, again burnishing his American Patriot Lapel Pin, has agreed to take the reins at GOPAC. GOPAC lives in the world of local and state politics.
After the 2010 census, State Legislatures (for the most part) will redraw Congressional District lines. It is crucial that Republicans elect as many candidates to State House and State Senate seats to make certain the GOP doesn't face another 40 years of Democratic control of the U.S. House.
Frank Donatelli and the GOPAC team have taken on the responsibility of making sure that doesn't happened.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the Washington Monthly piece and to GOPAC's History. Also a Daylight Savings Time Mullfoto and a very strange Catchy Caption of the Day. There is also the update on the number of people who have "friended" me on Facebook!