Frank: GOP Volunteers Make the Republican Party in California Possible

I have been involved in California politics since I walked my first precinct in 1960 for Nixon for President.  Headquarters were financed by local volunteers; and dozens came into the headquarters each day, even during the work week—that is when the Republican Women’s Federated provided the leadership for campaigns.

We did mailings, phone calls and walks from these facilities; all with volunteers.  We also had databases. No, not Excel or Access; these were not even in the picture. We had 4×6 index cards with the name, address and information on every voter listed. And we held them in a shoe box – LOL. Today, it is very different.

Volunteers take the lead from paid consultants, campaign managers, vendors and elected officials.  Strategy, fund raising demographic targeting is in the hands of folks hundreds of miles away, many of whom have never physically been in the District.  We now use paid walkers, robo call’s, paid call centers and social media technicians to manage our campaign.  And ‘Geo Mapping’ is very much the new targeting leader. As Bob Dylan write, “The times they are a-changing.” But have we forgotten the source of our most valued resource – The community, the volunteer and those candidates willing to step up to the plate and commit, their time, their money and their emotions, for you and for me.

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GOP Volunteers Makes the Republican Party in California Possible

Stephen Frank, Editorial, California Political News and Views, 10/18/18

The first thing we ask a candidate for office is how much money can they raise?  The second question is who is your consultant/strategist?  If they cannot raise the money or do not have a quality consultant, you might rightly surmise that they are not a serious candidate.  But maybe we are asking the wrong questions?  Often times we look at money as being the most important factor and certainly this helps. But have we forgotten about the power of the community.  I personally have seen campaigns win, not because of money, but because of the engagement of the candidate with the very community they wish to represent.

So, should our first question to a candidate be: What level of engagement do you have with the community, and what does their support look like? Do you have a solid volunteer base and is there a level of political experience in that base that we can draw upon for leadership?  Is your volunteer base willing to be actively involved in GOTV activities such as, phone calling, walking precincts, putting out signs and holding events?

Should we ask these questions before we even talk about finances and who the candidate has as their consultant. Have we lost sight of the importance of the volunteer and the resources that can be provided from the very community we are representing. Is it these resources that will provide the margin of victory that comes from a deep passion for the candidate and which just can’t be bought with money.?

Some Examples:

Yuba City – Last week I spoke at the volunteer headquarters in Yuba City.  It is the only Republican headquarters in Sutter and Yuba Counties and is financed and organized by the local chapter of the California Impact Republicans.  A large HQ, lots of room, sings and material.  The only thing missing, or at least I couldn’t find them, was cold coffee, day old pizza and half eaten donuts.

Central Valley – Last weekend in the Central Valley, the California Republican Assembly, in conjunction with the Central Committees and candidates had a precinct walk.  Similar to the effort of volunteers clubs and the OC Central Committee super Saturday efforts.

Across The State – Independent Republican and conservative clubs throughout the State have held  training sessions  for local candidates.  While the official party is working hard on legislative and Statewide races, local volunteers are trying to elect city council and school board members.  This actually helps the legislative candidates by providing a grass roots base for campaigns.

College Republicans – The California College Republicans and the Young Republicans have been volunteering on a targeted basis for months, helping our endangered candidates.  The good news is that some of these young people will be future political leaders.

Republican Federated Woman – In Simi Valley and many other places, the Republican Women Fed take turns handling chores at local headquarters.  These are the same volunteers, in almost every County that have booths at County Fairs and provide the Party with the only organized voter registration drive.

Yes, money is important!  Of course, having good leadership in the form of consultants is important! But things are changing; have you noticed there are fewer consultants in California.  Some have retired,  some have sold their business and gone into government and I am observing many, who are in the planning stage to either retire or move to another State.  It is worth noting ,that this year in CA, not one political consultant come out of retirment to run a statewide race.

So where do the future consultants and political leaders come from?  They start by walking precincts, learning how campaigns are run, not from Sacramento, but from Anaheim, Chico and Clovis, from the ground up.  We need to praise and give training to our future leaders and campaign managers.

Recently, I met with a major fund raiser within the GOP.  During lunch we talked about how we got into the business of politics and the training we were given.  We were able to trace his “Lineage” back to a chain-smoking lady by the name of Valdez in the 1950’s.  For me, I got involved and originally trained by a man named Murray Chotiner – Grass roots!

In 1945 Murray was the State President of the California Republican Assembly.  In 1946 he ran the congressional campaign for a WWII Navy veteran against an incumbent Democrat.  In 1968 when I got back from serving in Viet Nam I went to the Nixon for President top campaign advisors, Murray Chotiner, to get a job.  He introduced me to Robert Finch, who hired me as Chair, Youth for Nixon in California. I replaced Dan Lungren who was going off to law school – so this is my lineage.

Just like Valdez and Murray, those of us that have been around for awhile need to be the mentors for our future leaders, and it starts with promoting and encouraging volunteers.   We need to guide them and give them opportunities to learn and to shine.  We need to teach them the importance of being involved at the ground level of politics as the Founders intended.  The foundation and future of our Party isn’t a $25,000 a month consultant—it is the person willing to walk precincts, to develop political machines in the community and for mentors to show our volunteers and future leaders the importance of participation at the ground level of politics, in the greatest Constitutional Republic the world has ever seen.

Let us celebrate the volunteers, the volunteer clubs and the candidates willing to represent our values and principles. And let us show them,  by coming alongside and mentoring them the be the future leaders of our Republican party.


About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.