2014 Accomplishments
Kyle Baccei and Carol Wehe
January 12, 2015
2014 Accomplishments
2014 was an exciting year for the Leadership Institute! From trainings to student activism and conservative events to career building, the Leadership Institute (LI) -- with the support of generous donors -- continued working to grow the conservative movement. LI's staff and 348 volunteer faculty trained 18,182 students in 2014, bringing the total trained to 161,271 since LI's 1979 founding. The Institute trained 7,805 students nationally and 10,377 students internationally. In total, LI hosted 353 trainings throughout the country and around the world. These 353 trainings covered 36 of the 44 types of LI trainings as varied as On-Camera TV trainings, week-long Campaign Management Schools and Comprehensive Fundraising Trainings, Grassroots Activism Workshops, Public Relations Schools, and Career Trainings. In 2014, LI added the Women's Leadership Training, designed by women, for women. Over the year, 127 women graduated from this training. Following the 2014 Elections, LI staff have identified 30 LI grads elected to the U.S. House and Senate, 15 elected to state-wide office, and 421 elected to state legislatures. LI graduates are now serving as legislators in all 50 states. Graduates of Leadership Institute trainings are using their skills years after their training to win elected office. LI's National Field Program staff identified 34,091 conservative students on college campuses around the country. These field staff added 394 new student groups to LI's unique network of affiliated conservative student organizations. By the end of 2014, this network of conservative student groups had grown to 1,568. Many of the 707 articles that LI's CampusReform.org published made national news, making the site America's #1 source for campus news online with 9.3 million page views. These CampusReform.org articles had a direct impact on college campuses and led to 25 conservative victories and policy changes on College Campuses. Viewers from all 50 United States and around the world have tuned in to LI's free webinars since live webinars began streaming from LI studios in 2011. In 2014 alone, 2,080 viewers watched LI's 23 webinars. LI's Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfasts hosted 1,284 attendees and 10 speakers in 2014. Speakers included: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and a record breaking breakfast with U.S. Senator Rand Paul with 302 attendees. LI's 43rd National Fourth of July Conservative Soiree hosted 954 attendees. This year's featured speaker was Civil War Historian and movie director Ron Maxwell. LI's 6,482 job seekers had 1,897 available jobs posted to peruse on LI's ConservativeJobs.com website. LI's Career Services Center hosted 419 attendees at job fairs and offered 272 hours of personal career mentoring for free. LI's 35 interns came from 31 colleges, 21 states, 3 countries, and spent 5,094 hours combined in LI training. It's been a good year at the Leadership Institute, and LI is excited about what 2015 has in store! How has LI helped you? Email Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org to share your story. LI is always looking to spotlight faculty doing incredible things for the conservative movement, notable LI graduates making waves, and college students taking a stand on campus.
President Reagan on New Year's Day
Morton Blackwell
January 1, 2015
President Reagan on New Year's Day
On January 1, 1982, Ronald Reagan said: “Although I know most of the world celebrates the New Year with us today, I think this holiday is an especially American tradition. Most of us are at home or with our families this morning, getting ready to watch the splendor of parades and excitement of football. Later our families will gather around the dinner table, and we'll pray for guidance and strength in the New Year. Today we take a short and well-earned break from the building and industry and enterprise that make our country strong. We pause to reflect on the values of God and family and freedom that make us great.” Ronald Reagan was a strong president. A man of faith, a man of conservative principles, and a man of action – who loved America and knew what made our country great. I served for three years under President Reagan on his White House Staff. I miss him. But with your help, the Leadership Institute trains students, leaders, and activists who believe in the conservative principles Reagan embraced – and the principles you and I cherish today. Those conservatives you train through the Leadership Institute work to restore our founding principles to America. You equipped them with Institute training, and many of them won elections in 2014. Many Institute graduates prepare now for the crucial 2016 elections. And young conservatives push back and win against the liberals on college campuses nationwide, thanks to you. Thank you for your friendship. With your help, you and I will see more conservatives in the mold of President Reagan rebuild our precious country. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell
Merry Christmas from LI
Leadership Institute
December 25, 2014
Merry Christmas from LI
The Leadership Institute wishes students, faculty, donors, and friends a merry Christmas. In the holiday season, we are all thankful -- for our families, for our friends, and for the blessings in our lives. Everyone at the Leadership Institute is thankful for you, and your support of the Institute and training the next generation of conservative leaders. LI is thankful for all you do to fight for conservative principles. Whether at worship at church or gathering for a meal with family and friends, the Institute hopes you have a blessed and joyous day. From all of your friends at the Leadership Institute, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your loyal support.
Personal Politics – From the Man Who Got Paul, Cruz, and Rubio Into Office
Scott Heneveld
December 9, 2014
Personal Politics – From the Man Who Got Paul, Cruz, and Rubio Into Office
For Brendan Steinhauser, politics is personal. “Politics for me is about real world issues that affect us every day,” said Brendan, campaign manager for Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Since playing an integral part in the organization of the tea party in 2010, Brendan has helped elect many prominent conservative politicians, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and many others. Brendan isn't alone in his effort to make conservative politics personal. He helps recruit and train new grassroots activists for a growing movement. And it's paying off. With a Republican majority in Congress, many incumbent and newly-elected conservative politicians have local grassroots efforts to thank. More importantly, they have the people behind those efforts to thank – people like Brendan who took the offensive. “Many of the folks I've recruited over the years are passionate about the future of their country, and its impact on their families,” Brendan said. “I try to encourage them to do something productive about their concerns, and channel their passion into a cause or candidate that fits their personality and interests.” A veteran of effective and proven strategies, like those taught at the Leadership Institute (LI), Brendan has trained many local activists how to impact their communities through door knocking, phone banking, and social media. “We conservatives can apply LI's approach to politics extremely well at the local level,” he said. “This will not only improve things at the level of government closest to the people, but it will build our farm team for higher offices.” The localized political movement is growing in response to the many challenges our country faces. Conservatives everywhere are becoming more involved and their principles are now appealing to a wider demographic. “I believe that conservative policies are the solutions, and I really enjoy helping candidates and elected officials who are fighting for these policies and can win the arguments for them as well,” Brendan said. Rather than pander to moderates, he believes candidates should focus on making the case for their beliefs, winning over independents and undecided voters in the process. “I believe that conservative candidates can do this by demonstrating how their ideas work better than the failed ideas of the far left,” Brendan said. Sound political theory is great, but making it personal is one of the most effective ways to get votes. Look no further than John Cornyn's campaign, one where the conservative senator won an unprecedented majority of Latino votes in Texas this November. Brendan helped Senator Cornyn win the Latino majority through a personalized effort. “Our staff attended hundreds of events, meetings, and social gatherings around the state,” he said. “We visited very diverse communities, including our inner cities, barrios, rural areas, and suburbs. We even visited a colonia along the border with Mexico, which is a very poor area made up of recent immigrants.” Focusing on building relationships is invaluable. Listening to individual concerns while explaining practical, achievable solutions goes a long way. “As we met with folks and listened to their concerns, we tried to find common ground, even if there were policy disagreements,” Brendan said. “People appreciated that willingness to start a conversation, and we earned lots of respect that way.” This strategy demonstrates progress in conservative tactics. “The left tends to do better integrating emotion and compassion into their arguments, but I think conservatives are improving,” said Brendan. The results speak for themselves. The beauty of grassroots politics is that activists, like good candidates, are standing on their principles. They're activists because they care. They're fighting for a cause that's their own. Even though people won't always see eye-to-eye, someone who fights for what they believe in earns the respect of those around them. Unfortunately, caring doesn't win elections. Brendan, however, is also very good at winning. What is the key to his success? “Working hard and working smart,” he said. The foundation of a winning effort is figuring out the right strategy and then effectively and energetically implementing it. Brendan took LI's Youth Leadership School (YLS) in 2005. He has taught at six since then. “LI is one of my favorite conservative organizations in the movement,” Brendan said. “The most important lesson I've learned from the YLS is about organization. The way Morton Blackwell and his team developed this concept and instilled it in campaign operatives and activists over the years is really important.” In politics, winning or losing a campaign often comes down to organization. “The better organized, efficient campaign that understands the real world of political campaigns is going to have a better chance of winning,” Brendan said. “LI is the best place for conservatives to learn how to win. And you owe it to your conservative philosophy to learn how to win.” Brendan advises all activists and aspiring campaign managers to run a race at the local level. “There is no better way to learn about the importance of a good candidate, and of face-to-face communication,” he said. “If you want to understand grassroots politics and the power of what LI teaches, you should get involved in a local race and see the impact of good political organization.” There has never been a more important time for conservatives to take a stand for their principles. Fortunately, grassroots activism provides an effective means for conservatives to make an impact in their communities and beyond. Brendan has embraced and helped revolutionize the conservative grassroots effort. His winning strategies, fueled by his passion for his work, have yielded amazing results and point to great things to come. Please congratulate Brendan Steinhauser for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 43 types of training programs, working with more than 1,591 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 159,225 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
West Virginia Congressman-Elect Shares His Winning Strategy
Scott Heneveld
December 4, 2014
West Virginia Congressman-Elect Shares His Winning Strategy
He didn't leave anything to chance. He knew what was needed to win. West Virginia Congressman-elect Alex Mooney knows politics well enough to know a good heart isn't all it takes to win an election. The first Hispanic elected to Congress in West Virginia history, Alex is a Leadership Institute (LI) grad who will join a U.S. House of Representatives with a Republican majority. Owning a majority brings expectations, and Alex is excited to do his part in meeting those. “With the strong majority I will be joining in the U.S. House of Representatives, voters are going to expect us to fight for them and deliver results,” he said. One of Alex's primary focuses is scaling back government regulations in West Virginia. “I plan to fight back against devastating job losses created by the overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” he said. By working to reduce restrictions in his district, Alex will address a nationwide problem: jobs. “Perhaps the biggest issue facing my state is the lack of good paying, quality jobs,” he said. “West Virginia is blessed with several great Universities and Colleges but too many of those graduates leave West Virginia to find jobs. I am working every day to bring new jobs and industry to my district.” An offspring of crippling government regulation, job shortages have led many of West Virginia's brightest young people to leave the state, a problem Alex is committed to solving. “By reigning in an out-of-control EPA, jobs will begin to return to areas of my district which desperately need them,” he said. In the wake of widespread disillusionment with the policies of the far left, many Americans are looking to conservatives like Alex to present solutions to the pressing issues the U.S. faces. “Voters were disappointed in the failed policies of Barack Obama,” Alex said. “The voters in West Virginia made it clear to me in my campaign that they wanted someone to fight back against Obama's war on coal and assault on our individual liberties.” The best way to combat intrusions upon personal liberty is to take ownership of the problem and begin working from the local level up to protect the freedoms being threatened. Fortunately, many conservatives are accepting that responsibility and are becoming more active in local campaigns. “Local Grassroots efforts are of the utmost importance in any Congressional campaign,” said Alex. “I was sure that my team had an aggressive plan that executed targeted door knocking and volunteer phone calls.” Local involvement is crucial for successful campaigns. It's vital for a winning candidate to have a loyal, passionate, and well-trained base to build off of. After winning a hard-fought campaign in November, Alex knows this as well as anyone. “I won my race by just under 5,000 votes and can say for certain that my team's get out the vote push made the difference,” said Alex. Thanks to the improved methods of organization many conservative politicians are adopting, it's becoming easier for local activists to channel their support and energy effectively. Volunteering to knock on doors, make phone calls, or engage in social media efforts all contribute greatly to a campaign's success. “Pick a candidate in your area with whom you are ideologically aligned and volunteer on a regular basis,” Alex said. Even if it's a few hours after work or on the weekends, the regular contributions add up. There's no substitute for face time when it comes to bringing politics to a personal level. The most effective means of reaching voters is still door-to-door campaigning. “When I first ran for the State Senate, I had no name ID and was running against a 16 year incumbent,” Alex said. “I beat him by a wide margin because I personally knocked on over 10,000 doors. I have knocked on doors in every campaign since.” He also stressed the importance of attending local meetings. Woody Allen said 80 percent of life is showing up. Morton Blackwell's 22nd Law of the Public Policy Process is, “Never miss a political meeting if you think there's the slightest chance you'd wish you'd been there.” Being a part of a team of like-minded activists is essential. No one is an island, and a campaign built on individuals who refuse to work together is a losing campaign. “You should attend meetings of conservative groups in your area such as tea party chapters, pro-life groups, Republican clubs, and other organizations that believe in aggressive political grassroots action,” said Alex. The networking that occurs at meetings has more than just short term benefits. Alex has taken many LI trainings and regularly uses the connections he made during them. “To this day I have friends from those first LI schools I attended and some of them even traveled to help me in my most recent election,” he said. Having a loyal, close-knit team is a vital step towards winning a campaign. Having the training, resources, and strategies to win is another. “The Leadership Institute is where conservative activists, candidates, and campaign workers go to receive the training they need to win elections,” Alex said. “Everyone who works for me is required to receive ample training from the Leadership Institute.” Grassroots activism works, from local school board elections to congressional campaigns. Every conservative owes it to their cause to learn how to win and then put that knowledge into action. A testament to the effectiveness of combining belief with hard work and winning strategies, Alex is part of an exciting opportunity for the conservative movement. Now, more than ever, we need leaders. Alex has answered the call. Please congratulate Congressman-elect Alex Mooney on winning LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 43 types of training programs, working with more than 1,386 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 155,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
George Washington and the Leadership Institute
Morton Blackwell
November 26, 2014
George Washington and the Leadership Institute
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Our nation's first president issued a proclamation of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789 “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many favors of Almighty God ... especially an opportunity to establish a form of government for our safety and happiness.” In his proclamation, George Washington also asked Americans to pray for our government to be “a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws.” A fellow Leadership Institute's donor graciously loaned a full-size portrait of George Washington. It stands in the Leadership Institute's headquarters to remind my staff and me about the America our founding fathers built – a country built on prayer, tradition, and hard work. With your help, the Leadership Institute fights to uphold those “wise, just, constitutional” principles – our shared conservative principles – for this generation and those to come. I'm thankful for your friendship and support. Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
Scott Heneveld
November 19, 2014
"Freeing the world from its socialistic ropes"
Few activists have accomplished as much as Carl Andersen has at his age. The son of a successful construction entrepreneur and raised on a chicken farm in South Jutland, Denmark, Carl has begun fighting for the conservative cause in his home country. Despite being a 19-year-old recent high school graduate, Carl is already very involved in Danish politics. “I have been a member of Liberal Alliance and Liberal Alliance Youth since 2009, and have risen in the party on every single level,” he said. “I am on some boards at local, regional, and national levels, and run some campaigns for our candidates. I got elected to the county board in Vejen last year. I am now sitting as a member of the Technique and Environment Committee.” In September 2014, Carl began working as an intern at the Leadership Institute (LI). As an intern, he has been able to take trainings he believes will help him continue advancing conservative principles in Denmark. “Especially, I like that LI is an international organization; LI does not only focus on Americans and America, but on freeing the world from its socialistic ropes,” said Carl. He first heard of LI from a fellow member of Liberal Alliance, Lars Seier Christensen, a former LI speaker and current CEO of SAXO Bank. Carl was impressed with the level of knowledge and experience LI has in fields he believes are important in the modern political landscape. One of the tools Carl uses very successfully is social media. He runs Liberalisten1995, the largest political YouTube channel in Denmark with over 5,000,000 views and 3,000 subscribers. “I am self-taught in IT (WordPress and Photoshop), and do some freelance work in that field as I am the CEO of Place2Translate and GratisKonkurrencer.nu,” he said. One of the classes Carl recently took was the Comprehensive Online Activist School. Among other things, the class teaches how to build and grow an online community, and how to effectively use the new generation of social media. It's a class geared towards all levels of learners, from beginners to experts. Carl was one of 13 international students who attended, illustrating the diversity in the classroom. As an activist with extensive history working with social media, Carl learned a lot from the more technical aspects of the training. “The information about the Facebook algorithm was very useful. I did not know that before, and I am already seeing how the tips are working on my pages,” he said. Along with the techniques he learned in this Leadership Institute training, Carl is taking other innovative outreach ideas back to Denmark with him. “Currently, I am working on the first political direct mail letter in modern Danish history. I could not do this without the training from LI,” he said. Carl is excited to put his new knowledge into practice this coming spring during Danish national elections. “The training I have received at LI has given me a lot of great knowledge and tools to fight for our ideas in the public,” he said. Following his internship, Carl will return home where he hopes to attend Copenhagen Business School and study International Business and Politics, while continuing his work as an activist. As for his long term ambitions, Carl said he dreams of working as a connection between the private sector and politicians. Carl is part of a young generation of conservatives who recognize the power of social media outlets and he is using social media in innovative ways. Please congratulate Carl on receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award and encourage him in his future efforts to make Denmark and the world a freer place. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 43 types of training programs, working with more than 1,591 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 159,225 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Soviet Refugee Works to Protect Prosperity and Freedom in the US
Leah Courtney
November 12, 2014
Soviet Refugee Works to Protect Prosperity and Freedom in the US
Recalling his life in the Soviet Union, Igor Birman paints a dreary picture. “Imagine every aspect of your life from the cradle to the grave being dictated to you by government,” said Igor. “No matter your talents or wishes, you had little say in your own future.” Igor Birman was born in the Soviet Union in 1981. After a decade of Soviet refusals for exit permits, his family arrived in California in 1994. Igor first felt compelled to defend conservative principles as a student columnist at UC Davis, where he studied Political Science. “My parents risked everything to get me out of the Soviet Union where freedom did not exist and into the United States, which was founded on the notions of personal responsibility, limited government and individual liberty,” said Igor. “How could I possibly not dedicate my life to ensuring that my children grow up to know the same freedom that I was so lucky to find?” In 2001, Igor proudly became a U.S. citizen. As he continued earning his degree at Emory University, Igor chaired the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians committed to preserving freedom. At 24 years old, he graduated as a Doctor of Law, and the following year was admitted to the State Bar of California. Intent on making a difference, Igor started working in politics. He was appointed as Representative Tom McClintock's Chief of Staff in 2009, and decided to run for Congress in 2014. When asked what his biggest obstacle was during his race, Igor answered, “Becoming known, which is something most first-time candidates have to tackle. But I have to say that the creativity fostered by Leadership Institute training went a long way towards raising my name identification in the shortest possible time.” While a student at UC Davis, Igor began training with the Leadership Institute. He is a graduate of LI's Youth Leadership School, Public Speaking Workshop, Student Publications School, and Television Workshops. “Not only has LI equipped me with the knowledge and time-tested techniques for persuasion, but also supplied my campaign with some of the best operatives I have ever had the honor of meeting,” said Igor. Igor Birman describes the Leadership Institute as “indispensable” for anyone in politics. He says that activists looking to run for office should “stand up for the principles that got them into politics and defend them with all they can muster. If they don't, there is no point in winning.” This country needs more leaders with Igor's drive and passion. We are looking forward to see more great things from him in the future. Please join us in congratulating Igor Birman for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 43 types of training programs, working with more than 1,386 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 155,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day
Morton Blackwell
November 11, 2014
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day. All my staff at the Leadership Institute join me in honoring our veterans in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Our nation's armed forces give their blood, toil, tears, and sweat – both in war and peacetime – to keep America free. I count myself blessed to live in a prosperous country defended by the greatest military in the world. And our country still holds a special place in history, despite all that the liberals do to sabotage it. Let me share with you an article about Army veteran and Leadership Institute graduate Larry Provost. Please click here to read how LI donor support trained Larry in our grassroots schools – and helped him flip a Virginia legislative seat from liberal to conservative. That's the kind of victory your support achieves. Our veterans serve to protect our founding principles. And to the Leadership Institute donors, I thank you for your continued support to preserve those principles you and I share. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
Kyle Baccei
November 6, 2014
"Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose" is Nonsense
It is not always enough to be right -- as in correct -- candidates have to know how to win. It takes preparation. Since 1979, future candidates have attended Leadership Institute trainings. At LI, they learn the tools to win -- persuade voters, effectively fundraise, and get-out-the vote. Because they graduated from LI training, many winning candidates in 2014 understood how to effectively run and win. "Thanks to you Morton and LI staff, there are countless conservatives making a difference in public policy across the country," said soon to be Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. "As one of your earliest students, I know firsthand what a wonderful foundation the Leadership Institute's education provides for someone involved in public service." Here are some of the many LI and Morton Blackwell trained candidates who won accross the United States in 2014: Mitch McConnell – U.S. Senate, Kentucky Alex Mooney – 2nd Congressional District, West Virginia David Jolly – 13th Congressional District, Florida Vicky Hartzler – Fourth Congressional District, Missouri LI graduate and New Mexico businesswoman Kelly Fajardo said, “I don't think I would have ever taken the step to run if not for LI.” Terry Branstad – Governor, Iowa Mark Hutchinson – Lt. Governor, Nevada Chassity Martin – Commissioner, Collinwood, Tennessee Michael Hough – State Senate District 4, Maryland Hans Zeiger pictured above in 2010, graduated from three of the Leadership Institute's trainings. “LI is an excellent program for learning how to win in politics,” Hans said. “I recommend LI training strongly for campaign managers, policy professionals, and others who are shaping the future of our communities, state, and country.” Hans Zeiger – State House District 25b, Washington Lauren Cheape Matsumoto – State House District 45, Hawaii Kelly Fajardo – State House District 7, New Mexico In 2014, LI graduate Jennifer Sullivan became the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida legislature. “There are enough people that are in it for the power," Jennifer said of politics. "We need to get people that are principled and conservative that are going to be in it for the people; because that is the only way we are going to get our country back on track.” Jennifer Sullivan – State House District 31, Florida Kyle Koehler – State House District 79, Ohio Matt Krause – State House District 93, Texas LI trained candidates know being right is not enough. They study how to win.
When campaigns are prepared, good things happen
Kyle Baccei
November 5, 2014
When campaigns are prepared, good things happen
Prepared candidates do not panic. They have a plan. The Leadership Institute (LI) identifies, trains, and places conservatives who are prepared, and they win races. Many won in 2014 alone. “I am so proud of the work Morton Blackwell has done over the past fifty years to build a winning conservative movement,” said David Fenner, Vice President of Programs at the Leadership Institute. “Last night, Leadership Institute trained candidates, staff, and volunteers worked hard and smart in local, state, and federal campaigns in all fifty states. Despite staying up most of the night, Morton gave the following remarks to at our 8:00 a.m. Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast this morning.” "The most appropriate thing for me to say this morning is thank you to the donors of the Leadership Institute, because the good that you enable us to do has a long-term impact," said Morton Blackwell, President of the Leadership Institute. Join me in congratulating all of the Leadership Institute graduates who ran in, worked on, and volunteered on campaigns.
Homeschool Mom – Online Activist
Scott Heneveld
October 30, 2014
Homeschool Mom – Online Activist
Paula Bolyard knew something was wrong. An Ohio native and Toledo graduate, Paula got her start in online activism with her work on education. Following a series of articles bashing homeschooling published in a large local newspaper, Paula began educating others on homeschooling through emails, message boards, and blogs. “Homeschooling crosses all demographic lines and there is also an incredible amount of variety and diversity in the education styles we see in homeschooling families,” Paula said. After receiving nationwide attention, Paula launched her own blog, primarily focusing on homeschooling and education. Eventually, the exposure she generated led to additional writing opportunities. Paula is now a regular contributor at PJ Media and Ohio Conservative Review. She also recently began writing for the Heartland Institute. Paula decided to homeschool her two sons because local public schools didn't teach reading until first grade. Her oldest son, Ryan, was ready to learn before then. After a year, Ryan was so advanced for his age (and Paula had enjoyed teaching him so much) she decided to continue. “Eventually,” Paula said, “we came to appreciate the multitude of social and spiritual benefits of teaching our children at home. They were able to receive a personalized education that met their individual needs and at the same time, we were able to impart to them our family's Christian faith and values, by including those things in our curriculum and our everyday life.” Paula stressed no family is perfect. Even the best ones have their bad days. But that should not influence a parent's decision to homeschool their child. “Parents who love their kids and persevere through the process – even parents without any special training – can and do raise happy, well-rounded, highly educated children,” she said. “Americans have come to accept that non-traditional education models can work – and can even work better than the government model left over from the Industrial Revolution.” Paula recently wrote about Common Core on PJ Media. She said college readiness assessment tests (like the SAT and ACT) being aligned with new standards will affect homeschooling parents' control over curriculum. “It's not a stretch to envision the government at some point tying federal financial aid to compliance with the Common Core standards,” Paula said. “Homeschoolers shouldn't think they'll be safe from the effects of this attempt to nationalize education standards.” Paula said a great way to fight back is through the grassroots activism happening now. Just because a concerned parent isn't an influential politician doesn't mean they can't have an impact. “Soccer moms with cell phones are facing down powerful lawmakers, lobbyists, and billions of dollars of opposition – and they're making a difference and beginning to rack up some significant policy victories,” she said. Passion and concern are great, but it's important for grassroots activists to know how to take a stand. “There are proven ways to communicate, to win elections, to raise funds, to use social media effectively,” Paula said. “The Leadership Institute has spent years figuring out the best practices for these very specific skill sets and LI is very generous in passing that knowledge on to others in the conservative movement.” Paula's son Ryan attended Hillsdale College and interned at LI during the summer following his sophomore year. “LI trains conservatives to win and succeed,” Paula said. “Whether you're an activist, a writer, a candidate, a non-profit, or a campaign volunteer, there's something at LI that can help you do it better.” Paula has taken a webinar, Strategic Messaging Starts with Mission, and a Campaign Management School (CMS) from LI this year. “I'm currently helping a candidate with messaging and communications for an upcoming campaign and the things I learned at the CMS are an invaluable resource,” she said. Paula made a difference. She fought back against something she knew was wrong. In doing so, she opened doors to other activism opportunities and provided a blueprint for individuals who want to get involved. Please congratulate Paula Bolyard on her ongoing work in the movement and for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
Steve Sutton
October 29, 2014
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
As I write this, there is exactly one week left before the 2014 election. In the spirit of the season, it is time for predictions. Yet rather than make any new predictions, I will simply repeat two predictions about this year's elections, which I made last year (December 2013 to be exact). Ten months ago I made two bold predictions. The first was that no incumbent GOP U.S. Senator would lose his primary. Not one. Not Lindsey Graham…not Lamar Alexander…not Mitch McConnell…not them nor any others. And as it turned out, that prediction came true. So why did I make that prediction? Because campaigns matter. And I didn't see a strong enough infrastructure in place for any conservative to successfully challenge an incumbent U.S. Senator. That includes (but is not limited to) well-prepared/trained candidates, staff, volunteers, organization, and fundraisers. It was my belief that incumbent GOP Senators were not going to be surprised in 2014 like some had been in 2010. In 2012, several GOP incumbents survived because they were ready (i.e. Orrin Hatch), proactive, and aggressive. They showed how to win in the new climate of GOP primaries, and their fellow incumbent Senators saw what they did and learned from their example. Without the element of surprise, conservative candidates were going to have to run better campaigns to succeed. And it just didn't appear to me that they had the resources (or understanding) to do so. My second prediction has yet to occur. I remain optimistic that it will come true. In December of 2013, I predicted that the GOP would pick-up ten seats in the U.S. Senate. That's a net gain of ten seats. No caveats. No conditions. No equivocation. What was the basis of that prediction? At the time, President Obama's popularity had breached below the 50% favorability threshold that signals trouble. The single most important metric of off-year elections in a President's second term is that President's favorability rating. Over 50% and a President's party does well enough (holds onto seats…limits losses…may even gain here or there). Under 50% and there's trouble brewing. And under 45% means all he's got left is his base…and they are usually not all that enthusiastic, making the election results even worse. And the President's fall in popularity was based upon a lack of trust. Once trust is lost, it is almost impossible to regain. Reagan (after Iran-Contra) and Clinton (after Lewinsky) recovered because they both admitted some level of responsibility. Obama never has (and never will) because to him, his problems are all everyone else's fault. In fact, he just doubles down. In the face of that climate, my belief was that Republicans would run the table and that 2014 would be similar to 2010. And so that's what led to my prediction of a net of 10 seats for the GOP in the U.S. Senate. That will mean no loses (so the GOP will need to retain Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia). And that means winning North Carolina and New Hampshire. We'll know in a week. But I'll stand by that 2013 prediction and see where the chips fall.
Hard Work: From Kentucky Tomatoes to Conservative Politics
Christopher Goffos
October 23, 2014
Hard Work: From Kentucky Tomatoes to Conservative Politics
Robert Stuber has known the value of hard work since his childhood. Currently the Director of Development and Direct Marketing at Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Rob began his career on a farm in Louisville, KY, when he was 12. He and his father decided to grow extra tomato plants and sell them on the side of the road. After two years of success, Rob recalls, “We were going to become rich and planted hundreds of plants and worked our butts off, but so did everyone else and the price of tomatoes collapsed to almost nothing. I learned a lot about free markets…and never ate a tomato again.” Since that early entrepreneurial experience, Rob has continued working hard to help the conservative movement thrive. He was elected Chairman of the College Republicans in Kentucky in 1979 and served on the College Republican National Committee until 1981 while working for Jefferson County Executive Mitch McConnell, later elected senator. Rob met his future wife, Karen, at the College Republican National Convention in the summer of 1979, where she was invited by Morton Blackwell to attend one of the very first Leadership Institute trainings. “Karen remembers that Helen and Morton hosted a bunch of students at their home for a spaghetti dinner,” said Rob. “Hardly anyone who ever meets them can forget them.” In 2002, Rob and Karen's 15-year-old daughter, Kate, followed in her parents' footsteps by attending LI's Youth Leadership School. She worked alongside Karen on local campaigns, eventually earning a degree in history from the College of William and Mary. Kate lives in Richmond today, pursuing a career outside of politics, though Rob thinks she might be back in the game in the future. “One thing to remember is that LI training is great at preparing folks for more than just politics,” said Rob. “It's about selling ideas, and that translates across lots of careers.” Rob's first taste of his career in development came while he worked for Mitch McConnell in the late 1970's. “I was lured into volunteering a few hours a week, and then the youth volunteer coordinator went off to law school at the end of one summer. They asked me to take his job.” “We started to become aware that targeted direct mail letters could be used to find new supporters,” said Rob. “We started experimenting, as I had no formal training.” Rob's experiments proved successful. McConnell had nearly 1,000 donors who contributed more than $1 million to his first local reelection campaign in 1981. Rob said the “career-changing episode” of his life was the opportunity to work on the re-election campaign of Senator Jesse Helms, who he believes “was the greatest to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.” Rob moved to Raleigh, NC, at the age of 27 and was the youngest on the campaign team. “It was the hardest job I ever loved, but they gave us free reign to do amazing things.” Now at AFP, Robert Stuber continues to do what he loves. He sees his role as empowering his energetic team members to reach success. “My objective is to provide a steady stream of new donors who are cultivated by regional folks on the development team. They are the lead fundraisers.” Rob remains prized faculty at LI's fundraising trainings, and he stresses the importance of attending these trainings for anyone tasked with raising funds. “This is the only chance anyone gets to spend a couple of days with the most experienced talent in the business,” said Rob. “The faculty has raised literally billions of dollars for candidates and causes.” Rob has a long history of working with and for LI. He met LI's former development director, Rick Hendrix, while working for Eberle and Associates, and in 1993, Rick offered him a job working on foundation relations and planned giving. “You can't go into a right of center non-profit in Washington or office on Capitol Hill that there isn't someone who has benefited from Morton Blackwell's training,” said Rob. “This is all the proof you need to know that you will receive quality training.” Rob remains passionate about the conservative movement, but he cautions that “passion alone doesn't yield success.” Passion does no good unless you learn to channel it toward effective action for the right causes. “My dad was a Navy veteran of World War II. He and my mom worked hard to make life better for us,” said Rob. “We owe it to our kids to do the same. Engagement in the public policy process is the best way to influence our culture and improve society.” Rob hopes young conservatives can learn the value of hard work as well. “Remember, the political conflict in which we are engaged is one that has raged on in a big way for half a century. Our side has often been on the losing side. There will be more losses along the way. Do not be discouraged. I will keep up the fight until my dying breath, and I hope others will be there with me,” said Rob. Please congratulate Robert Stuber for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award, and thank him for his tireless effort to promote conservative principles. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Bachmann’s Press Sec – LI Grad Goes to Capitol Hill
Scott Heneveld
October 16, 2014
Bachmann’s Press Sec – LI Grad Goes to Capitol Hill
Be the change you want to see. As press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Mikayla Hall is doing just that. Mikayla's earliest political memory is of accidentally voting for Bill Clinton in 1996 during a mock election at her elementary school. “I went home and cried because I thought my fake vote made him win,” she said. Born in Minnesota, Mikayla also considers Washington state one of her home states, having spent a decade in both. While studying Communication at the University of Washington, Mikayla joined Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) as a freshman after being recruited by a Leadership Institute (LI) field rep. Eventually, she became YAL's first Northwest Regional Director, organizing students in 10 states. “LI is a toolkit. You can use its material to build yourself the steps to a career in politics, with opportunities to practice through their internship and field program,” she said. Mikayla first met Michele Bachmann while interning for LI in 2011. After learning Bachmann represents the part of Minnesota Mikayla is from, she applied for an internship in the congresswoman's office. Three years later, she has worked her way up to press secretary. One of the things that attracted Mikayla to Bachmann was Bachmann's focus on serving her local community. Rather than relying on problems to fix themselves, Bachmann decided to be proactive – to be part of the solution as a congresswoman. As press secretary, one of Mikayla's priorities is to show that the congresswoman genuinely cares about the future of the U.S. and takes action accordingly. Besides not knowing what to do with her hands during Bachmann's interviews and photo shoots, the most difficult challenge Mikayla faces is the unpredictability of politics. “You never know what breaking news will come up each day,” said Mikayla, “and depending on what it is, it can affect messaging, scheduling, and legislation.” Mikayla credited LI for helping hone the skills she uses daily. “LI invests in their interns and encourages them to embrace their interests, and it's made all the difference,” she said. Mikayla will be lecturing at LI's upcoming Comprehensive Online Activist School - her favorite training when she was an intern. Her advice for aspiring online activists is twofold: don't be boring, and present yourself well by keeping your internet presence polished, updated, and interactive. “You know you're a Conservative, you know what you love, and you know what you want to do, and LI is there to help you figure out how to do it,” she said. Action, not concern, is the key to results. Mikayla is proof. Please congratulate Mikayla Hall for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org. - See more at: http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/news/?NR=10843#sthash.1hMZnyLo.dpuf
Serving to Protect the Last Best Hope for Mankind
Leah Courtney
October 9, 2014
Serving to Protect the Last Best Hope for Mankind
For Army veteran Larry Provost, the call to action, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country” was all it took for him to feel the need to get involved. This military veteran wasn't always a conservative. In fact, his mother was liberal. It wasn't until Ronald Reagan became president in the 1980's that Larry began to see what conservatism was really about. “As time went on I saw that, on an overall scale, government policies were hurting, and slowly, almost imperceptibly, taking away the dignity, freedoms, and prosperity of the very people they were supposed to help. Reagan was the first President I remember, and he shaped my idea of what a President could be,” Larry said. In addition to his previous work in the U.S. Army, Larry also serves as an advisor to several conservative groups, and as a Chaplain for the American Legion in Washington, DC. His enthusiasm for helping the conservative movement is something to be admired. Larry battles the left by contributing to conservative blogging sites like Townhall.com. Many of his articles share his view on what makes this country great and how to preserve it. “Our nation is, as Lincoln said, the last best hope for mankind at least in the political realm. In terms of nations, America is the hope for the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed,” Larry writes. Larry Provost credits the Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs and alumni base for helping him in his professional journey. “I learned more about getting a job in DC and defending conservative principles through a few days of training at the Leadership Institute than I did in four years of college,” he said. Larry first heard about the Leadership Institute from a teacher at his old high school. Since then, he has graduated from LI's Youth Leadership School, Public Relations School, and Online Journalism Workshop. Larry grew up in upstate New York. He graduated from SUNY Oswego with a double major in History and American Studies in 2001. He also graduated from Regent University with an M.A. in Government with a concentration in Terrorism and Homeland Defense in 2006 and from Liberty University with another M.A. in history in 2011. When asked if he had advice for potential leaders in the conservative movement, Larry replied, “Show what you are for and not always what you are against. Show this country that conservatism is the movement of love and compassion, especially for those who suffer the most in our country. Show that conservative policies keep people safe. The left has run out of ideas. Hold them accountable for what they did, and what they will try to do. Be not afraid and be bold in giving people hope.” Please congratulate Larry Provost for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award, and thank him for his tireless effort to promote conservative principles. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Likely Leftist Messaging
Steve Sutton
October 8, 2014
Likely Leftist Messaging
In case you're still confused or unsure how the left will approach this year's campaigns, here's an insightful article from the LA Times. Economic populism is the polite way the left phrases their campaign of "who to blame." Remember, the left runs their campaigns (not just election campaigns, but public policy "campaigns") on the premise that it's "Us" versus "Them." They define the "Them" and if you're not one of "Them" then you are one of "Us." That's the way to build a winning, majority coalition. They start with who to blame and then pivot to those who are victimized by that group. In this case, blame the rich (and powerful). It's their fault that you are where you are. “They” won't raise the minimum wage. “They” won't pay women equal pay. “They” are uncaring and out of touch and for the rich. Class warfare. Income inequality. Get ready for it. It's coming (it's already here). And remember to deflect it and get back on your message.
The ‘Viral Genius’ Journalist
Carmela Martinez and Carol Wehe
October 2, 2014
The ‘Viral Genius’ Journalist
He lives in New York City, grew up on the West Coast, and went to college in California, but Oliver Darcy isn't your typical liberal journalist – he works for Glenn Beck. “Oliver Darcy is a viral – twitter, facebook, social media – genius,” said fellow journalist Josiah Ryan, who worked with Oliver at the Leadership Institute's CampusReform and now at Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. In just one month this year, Oliver drove 25 million page views to TheBlaze. “My interest in writing was reignited while at the Leadership Institute when I started writing for CampusReform.org,” Oliver said. After working for CampusReform.org for a year, he was offered a job as the Weekend Editor for TheBlaze, a news, information, and opinion website founded by television and radio host Glenn Beck. Oliver has since moved to New York City, and become the Late Night Editor. “I would tell conservatives hoping to find work in journalism to cover news from an objective angle. Stop giving your opinion and start offering information,” Oliver said. Conservative journalists provide value by simply exposing the truth, Oliver's co-worker pointed out. “On the conservative side of things, we do have the truth on our side,” Josiah said. “The facts are on our side, and if we present them in a professional compelling way, people will come over to our side. What we're trying to do at TheBlaze is what the guys at CampusReform are trying to do at the Leadership Institute, which is to tell true stories and let the readers decide,” Josiah said. Right now, Oliver is launching a breaking news account for TheBlaze, called @TheBlazeNOW. The account allows people to follow the news as it happens – live. “The Leadership Institute has been very helpful to me in my professional journey, allowing me to start my journalism career at CampusReform.org and continue from there,” Oliver said. He first heard about the Leadership Institute when a Regional Field Coordinator contacted him to speak about viral video at an LI training. “I enjoyed helping teach students how they can expose instances of waste, fraud, and corruption on their college campuses. Traveling with Leadership Institute staff was always a blast,” Oliver said. Oliver was born near Seattle, Washington and attended high school in Fresno, California. He got his early start in journalism in high school, where he wrote for the school newspaper for three years. After graduating from the University of California, Merced, Oliver moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Leadership Institute's CampusReform.org. In his time at the Leadership Institute's CampusReform, Oliver was named Leadership Institute's Employee of the Quarter and Employee of the year by Morton Blackwell. Please congratulate Oliver Darcy on his work with TheBlaze, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
The Advocate
Jackie Silseth
September 25, 2014
The Advocate
Chelsi Henry doesn't view herself as a politico; she's an advocate. “I've always had an interest in being able to serve others and be an advocate for others. Since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be an attorney and be able to use my skills to help people in the public sector,” said Chelsi. And she has definitely succeeded. Chelsi uses her voice to advocate for others through prayer, entrepreneurship, and political involvement. Chelsi stays busy promoting conservative values within and out of the political arena. She has started three businesses and organizations aimed at raising up and empowering others. Chelsi supports homeless and women's shelters with her business CP Couture. She fosters a supportive, praying online community for others through her website AlwaysPraying.com. On top of all that, or possibly because of her service, you'll find Chelsi on the 30 Under 30 list for 2014 and nominated as an RNC rising star. Back when she attended the University of North Florida, Chelsi led as part of her student government, and also had the opportunity to learn about farming communities while she studied in Belgium. “Campuses are mini-incubators of what goes on in politics,” she said, explaining her decision to run for Supervisor of the Duval County Soil and Water Conservation district. During her run for office, Chelsi came across the Leadership Institute. “The Leadership Institute is an amazing organization that provides valuable information to citizens that want to have a more active role in the political and public policy process. LI trains you to be an effective leader!” she said. Chelsi participated in LI's Communications and GOTV Workshop as well as the Grassroots Campaign Workshop. “Never give up an opportunity to learn from the experts at the Leadership Institute,” said Chelsi. “The workshops were very informative. Both provided an in-depth understanding of how grassroots and communications function in a political campaign. It was great for me because I had recently run my own citywide campaign and learned different strategies I could use in future campaigns,” she said. Duval County voters elected Chelsi in 2010 and made her Jacksonville's youngest elected woman. During her time in office, Chelsi focused on natural resources conservation education and awareness. “Let your passion lead you,” Chelsi said. And she does. Chelsi's professional success and personal achievements speak volumes for what a young person can achieve when she seeks out experience and training to further the conservative movement - to make a difference in the lives of others. Please congratulate Chelsi P. Henry for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org
Sutton's Place Returns
Steve Sutton
September 24, 2014
Sutton's Place Returns
Labor Day marks the end of summer and the return of many special American traditions...children return to school, the football season begins, leaves change color...and Sutton's Place returns from an extended summer hiatus. The political season is upon us as well. Rather than an occasional commentary every week or two, Sutton's Place will be very active during the next several weeks. So expect to see more frequent observations and opinions (at least through Election Day). Let's start with a discussion of the relatively obscure Democrat primary for Governor in Rhode Island. Who thought RI's Dem primary would hold a valuable lesson for conservatives? Check out this op-ed from the Washington Post. It details the candidacy (and victory) of Gina Raimondo who championed an aggressive restructuring of public sector employee union pensions in RI. You may recall the attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, an important campaign which drew our attention. But on the same day that recall attempt failed, there were two very important referendums in California that deserved our attention as well. On the ballot for voter approval in two different California cities were initiatives to trim public sector employee union pensions...one in San Diego and another in San Jose. The ballot initiatives passed easily in both cities. San Jose voted overwhelmingly (more than 2/3rds, I believe) for President Obama and has a Democrat mayor (also an Obama supporter). But San Jose voters voted 2/3rds FOR the limits on union pensions. The mayor strongly supported the initiative as well. There are two important reasons that voters support trimming public sector union pensions. One is that public services are being limited/curtailed/cut to pay for generous pensions. Parks are closing, libraries are reducing their hours, and even police and fire protection is being limited. This is why many Democrats/liberals (who believe strongly in greater government services) are voting to limit public sector employee union pensions. The other reason is that in order to continue paying the generous pensions, voters/taxpayers are being asked to raise taxes on people making $45,000 a year to pay for more generous benefits for people making $65,000 a year. In addition to better pension plans (i.e. lifetime defined benefit retirement pensions with COLAs), government union workers also get better health care plans, greater job protections, and higher salaries than non-government workers. That is simply not acceptable to middle America. This is a solid issue to blunt talk of "income inequality". This is income inequality created by government and liberal politicians who pick winners and losers and favor special interests. It puts conservatives (and rational liberals) on the common sense side of fighting for middle America, and reveals the most extreme big-gov't liberals for what they are. It's a great issue to champion. Just be prepared...the unions will hate you. But they already do, don't they?
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