At long last, after a weekend at UW-Oshkosh sans internet connectivity, I am back to update you all on the goings on at the Wisconsin College Republicans Leadership Conference.
Due to the late arrival of Brad and myself, the night was quite uneventful. Seriously though, after missing the keynote speaker of the evening (Lt. Gov. candidate Jean Hundertmark) we found ourselves coming into a sparse crowd of CRs ready to go out and enjoy the Oshkosh night life. Therefore, the group made off to change into more comfortable garb and set their sights on Bo Duddly's Pool Hall in beautiful downtown Oshkosh.
It was a long evening at Bo Duddly's including a 7-round match of pool between Brad and me (which I won on a technicality 4-3), several two-on-two games of cricket and 701, and a surprisingly articulate discourse on China-USA relations in the modern age between Brad and UW-Madison CR and former Assembly candidate James Block. The night ended with little controversy and a large bar tab.
Although I can't speak for the rest of the attendees, my roommates for the weekend and myself felt inclined to sleep in a little and thus got a late start on the day. I made it to the conference during Allison Kasic's training session around 9:30 in the morning. Much of what I was able to pick up dealt with donor relations, and how to deal with high-dollar donors effectively. Key Tip: never speak before giving the donor a chance to answer.
Around 11:30, Leadership Institute field rep. Marty Andrade took over and discussed campus politics and some effective ways to get cheap publicity for events. Key Tip: utilize blogs for effective (and free) media attention.
At 1 pm, a group of Madison CRs, including myself, were taken out to lunch by AK and Marty to discuss our operations and enjoy some quality food. During the lunch, we were able to catch the tail end of the Badgers/Gophers game and were thrilled to see the blocked punt for a TD and subsequent victory.
Once back at the Reeve Center, I caught a little bit of WICR chair Nicole Marklein and vice-chair Matt Karas's presentation, but had to help Brad with his presentation because my laptop was locked. Following them were presentations by an RPW member and a county chair before we got to the main event: dinner and addresses by both Republican gubernatorial candidates.
This part of the conference was the highlight of my weekend (apart from quality time with you know who). Discussing politics amongst friends is one thing, but a chance to discuss issues of national importance with men who put their beliefs into words and get them passed as law is the chance of a lifetime. While we ate, we were able to listen to Scott Walker, current Milwaukee County Executive, share his plans to fight for the rights of taxpayers by finally getting a REAL property tax freeze passed upon election. Also, he highlighted the importance of a concealed carry law and promised to get the bill that has been vetoed multiple times by Doyle passed.
While dessert was passed around, we made the transition from local to national, and Congressman Mark Green addressed the group. He discussed much of what Walker talked about, because in essence they are fighting to right the same wrongs.
The biggest difference between the two candidates seems to be that one (Walker) has executive experience in running the second largest government in the state of Wisconsin, while the other (Green) has only experience in the legislature and can't point to examples where his ideas for improving the state have been put in action on a smaller scale. For example, Walker mentioned that each budget passed in Milwaukee County since his first election as County Executive has included a cut in property taxes versus a rise on the state level.
After wrapping up with the two candidates, about half of the CRs headed off to a haunted hayride out in the boonies. We embarked on the ride following a half-hour wait by the fire and made our way through the "haunted" fields and into the woods. We were confronted by "ringwraiths" and monsters of all kinds on our journey, but none were quite as frightening as the chainsaw wielding goons hiding throughout the forest.
Following the hayride, everyone made for their respective hotel rooms and as for myself, I made for bed.
This morning started off with a quick shower, room sweep, and checkout before a prayer breakfast concluded the conference. About half of the original group remained as we sat down for the great looking meal with the two Republican candidates for state Attorney General.
UW-Madison CRs' first vice-chair Erica Christenson started off the proceedings with a quick prayer before we heard from the two candidates, Waukesha County DA Paul Bucher and US Attorney J.B. van Hollen. Bucher started off by discussing the situation his organization was left in after the state decided to cut his prosecution force by over 15% even though they were already understaffed. He outlined what he believes to be the most important issues affecting the state as methamphetamine production and election fraud, both of which must be dealt with immediately.
Van Hollen echoed these sentiments with one key difference; he believes that the number one issue confronting the state is still terrorism. He acknowledged that the Patriot Act gave his office the tools to deal with terrorism but that it is not being dealt with at the state level and we've been lucky that this hasn't presented a problem yet.
With that the conference drew to a close. Now that I'm back in Madison, expect the posts to be back in a flurry.