News Archive: 2012

LI Graduate Helps Jeff Flake Win U.S. Senate Seat in Arizona

Winning a U.S. senate seat is no small feat. It takes integrating thoughtful strategy with hard work months before Election Day. 


Leadership Institute graduate Sam Stone has volunteered and worked on campaigns since he was 17 years old, and he’s not stopping now.  Sam works as the Arizona state director for FreedomWorks, an organization that recruits, educates, trains, and mobilizes millions of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.


“FreedomWorks for America ran a statewide grassroots campaign in support of Jeff Flake for Senate. We set goals to make over 100,000 phone calls, knock on 200,000 doors, and distribute 15,000 signs,” Sam said.  “It's not glamorous stuff.  It just wins races. Every day, we organized teams of volunteers to go out there in the Arizona sun and grind out the win.” 


And “grind out the win” they did.


Republican Jeff Flake, having served in the lower chamber of Congress since 2001, will now return to Washington, D.C., but this time as a senator from Arizona.


When former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl retired, two candidates emerged to fill the vacancy: Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who campaigned as an Independent. Flake brought home the victory in November with 49.7 percent of the vote, while Carmona carried 45.8 percent.


“Jeff Flake can save America. No, seriously,” Sam shared with the Leadership Institute. “Other than perhaps Paul Ryan, there is no greater advocate for limited government, fiscal sanity, and reduced spending than Jeff Flake. He led the fight against earmarks. He's one of the few congressmen who understand the risks of our ballooning national deficit. Ten years ago, Greece was in a very similar economic position to where we are today. Jeff Flake is exactly the kind of man we need in the Senate to change that trajectory.”


LI Graduate Named one of the Top 30 “Most Influential Conservatives Under 30 Years Old”

You are never too young to make a difference in the public policy process, and for some, to run a winning campaign and serve in an official capacity is the way to do it.

Red Alert Politics recently named Derek Merrin as one of its Top 30 Influential Conservatives Under the Age of 30, and rightly so.

At just 19 years old and still a college student at the University of Toledo, Derek Merrin was elected in 2005 as councilman for the 5,500-person City of Waterville in Ohio. Derek broke the all-time record by receiving the most votes for a council seat, he said.

While a councilman, Derek supported placing a 115 percent limit on capital spending, through which the city could not spend 115 percent more than it anticipated receiving in revenue. The five-year capital budget was readjusted and saved taxpayers more than $600,000, Derek shared.

The following year—in 2006—Derek came to the Leadership Institute to take the week-long Campaign Leadership School, now called the Campaign Management School, which prepares campaign managers and candidates for their rigorous races.

“At the Leadership Institute, I gained a better understanding of how to win elections. Specifically, I learned how to optimize limited resources by identifying voters based on their voting history,” Derek said.

One year after Derek took LI’s campaign training—then at age 21—he was elected in 2007 as mayor of Waterville, beating a three-term Democratic incumbent and becoming the youngest mayor in the state of Ohio.

The Fraud of “Hope” and “Change”

The Leadership Institute welcomed Kate Obenshain, writer, speaker, and frequent Fox News guest, to its monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast.  More than 90 conservatives came early Wednesday morning to hear her discuss Divider-In-Chief, her latest book, and how President Obama has deceived Americans with his hope and change rhetoric.


Kate specifically focused her speech on young Americans and how the Obama administration has affected them.


As she wrote in her book, “Barack Obama has played young people. He reached out to them with soaring speeches championing unity, and they responded to his call to transcend differences and engage in a new kind of politics.  In fact, they responded with more enthusiasm, more genuine hope than any other demographic. And the president repaid their trust with betrayal—becoming not the great united, but the most divisive president in history. He has robbed them of current and future prosperity, perverted their understanding of the value of hard work, ambition, and the American dream, and poisoned their optimism—the very optimism he used to soar to victory in 2008.”



Click "read the full story" to watch her full remarks by video.


North Carolina’s Victory

North Carolina was a bright spot for conservatives in the 2012 election, and it took solid work from people like Leadership Institute graduate Ashton Godwin, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, to get the job done.


Ashton, in his twenties, served as the campaign manager for Brian Brown, the newly elected District 9 Representative in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Brian ran against Democratic incumbent Marian McLawhorn, first elected in 1999.


“We were the new guys as far as local politics goes, but in the end our efforts illustrated what a motivated, energetic, qualified, and concerned citizen/candidate Brian Brown is,” Ashton said. “We were able to effectively reach out to voters in our district and promote our message. In the days leading up to the election, the GOTV methods presented in the Leadership Institute’s Campaign Management School provided me with the ability and confidence to motivate voters to get to the polls.”


“My candidate, as well as myself, were new to running for office,” Ashton said. “We agreed that we needed to be seen and heard by as many voters as possible. We utilized multiple methods to connect with voters. One of the most effective and inexpensive methods was door to door canvassing. Personally, I knocked on hundreds of doors in the last two weeks leading up to Election Day.”

An open letter to conservatives

I had a very exciting time at the Republican National Convention.  My conservative allies and I all worked very hard in the presidential election.

When I woke up the day after the election, everything I had worked for appeared to be in ruins.  An extreme leftist had been reelected president of the United States.
Some liberal Republicans immediately began to blame newly activated conservatives for the presidential defeat.  I knew they were wrong.  It was clear to me that these newly active conservatives would be the key to major future victories for conservative principles.
The day was Wednesday, November 4, 1964.
Running as a Young Conservative in Illinois

This week’s national political scene has most Americans full attention. However, as LI’s President Morton Blackwell writes in his 27th Law of the Public Policy Process, “Remember it’s a long ball game.”


Initially, politics starts locally.


And, for 27-year-old Zachary Holder, he’s running as a Republican for circuit clerk in his home county of Richland in Illinois.


Richland County is comprised of 16,233 people and has not elected a GOP circuit clerk since 1968.



“The race is turning out to be very competitive and I am using all the Leadership Institute tricks I learned,” Zachary said. “A conservative win would allow a different approach to county government. A conservative would look at the office differently. I would look to see how they can make the office more efficient, save money, and integrate technology to be more productive.  Currently, the circuit clerk’s office does not have a website or accept any electronic form of payment.” 


The circuit clerk serves as the administrative arm of the judiciary. 


“I have worked for the Republican National Committee, the Illinois House Republican Organization, and other races,” Zachary said.  “It is not too different to be the candidate running in your hometown.  My days are spent making phone calls, walking door to door, attending dinners, and trying to raise money.  I am taking on the last liberal strong hold in the county.”


The Texas Policy Translator

Since Kansas native David Guenthner moved to Texas in 1989 to attend college at Trinity University in San Antonio, he’s stayed put.


The Lone Star state’s charm has kept him in Austin since graduating 19 years ago, minus a short stint in fall 1994 when he interned at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.


“The Leadership Institute is an invaluable resource for the conservative movement,” David said. “It has been a privilege to watch it grow from a small organization teaching college students how to run meetings and make Burma Shave signs into today’s Leadership Institute which is meeting the comprehensive training needs of a professional and broad-based conservative movement.”


David’s college education in political science and speech communications with a minor in economics began his journey.  The end result: merging policy research with strategic communications to inform government with recommendations and actions.


And ever since, David has worked to influence policy for Texans through some government relations or communications capacity.


He’s held many jobs, from writing and editing articles for Texas Risk Retention Association (1995 – 1996), to being the managing editor (Nov. 1996 – 2003) of the Lone Star Report, a political newsletter influential with Capitol insiders, to running his own firm meeting the communications needs for trade associations (2004), to being the government relations liaison (2004 – 2006) for the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with more than 3,000 employers and a budget of more than $1 billion.


In 2007, David went to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) first as its director of media and government relations and then as the senior communications director from 2011 to 2012.


Now, David is the senior director of public affairs at TPPF, an organization that promotes and defends liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with research and outreach.


“A common flaw in conservative thinking has been that we expend all our energy to get good candidates elected to office and then expect them to know what they’re doing from that point on,” David explained to the Leadership Institute. 


“But too often, the issues legislators are called upon to decide are ones where they have little experience and may not have even given much thought,” David continued. “Many think tanks have experts with deep philosophical grounding, but the Texas Public Policy Foundation has become a dominant force in Texas by combining our policy expertise with a public affairs program that gives our research legs with both policymakers and the public.”

Leadership Institute closed Monday and Tuesday

Due to Hurricane Sandy, the Leadership Institute will be closed on Monday, October 29 after 2 P.M. and all day on Tuesday, October 30.


You may leave a voicemail on LI's main line (703-247-2000) or send an email to individual LI staff. You will receive a response as soon as it is possible.


Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in the storm's path.

High School Teacher Now Runs Communications Shop for California Congressional Candidate

With an international studies degree in hand from the University of North Carolina in 2002, Noel Fritsch began teaching English, and later Spanish, to high school students.


“I taught school and coached high school sports for most of my professional career to date, until I decided to make the jump to politics,” Noel said.


Now, he’s working as the communications director for Gary DeLong, candidate for California’s newly created 47th congressional district that covers Long Beach and West Orange County.


“HTML is now my friend,” Noel said. “I manage the communications effort, from managing messaging and properly positioning the candidate on issues to drafting email blasts and keeping the website updated, and managing the social media effort. It's pretty all-consuming, especially during the last few weeks before Election Day.”  


Gary DeLong is Long Beach’s Councilman, and has been since 2006. He’s also president and CEO of The RTP Group, a telecommunications consulting firm and software development company.


When he moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005, Noel learned about the Leadership Institute through the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

In Front of TV Cameras

Know what you want to say. Say it in a simple manner. Look and sound the part.


These were basic principles of the last Friday’s Introduction to Television Techniques Workshop taught by Beverly Hallberg at the Leadership Institute.



The 16 students learned to effectively communicate via broadcast media: what to wear, how to present themselves, and the type of language to use. Many students came away with the same observation: it’s the little things that make a difference.


Nicole Hudgens, an intern with the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation, remarked, “I’ve had a lot of communication classes since it’s what I got my degree in, but this covered some things I had not heard before and I really enjoyed it! Beverly gave great practical advice and I’d love to go to another workshop.”


1 through 11 of 99