Politics in Action at the 2012 AAPC Pollie Awards

I was in Austin for a few days, attending the 2012 American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Awards and annual conference. Remember a few weeks ago when I went to San Francisco and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to talk with the California Republican Party (CRP) ‘establishment’?

Yeah, that was a walk in the park in terms of comfort zones compared to this shindig. This is the kind of event that honors James Carville. In fact, it’s the exact kind of event that honors James Carville, because the Ragin’ Cajun was inducted into the AAPC Hall of Fame, alongside Paul Begoda and Karl Rove. Eclectic group, huh?

At grassroots/activist events, the conference goers are all on fire for America, because … the Constitution! I love these people. They are my homeys. At the CRP thing in San Francisco, I mostly saw the same sort of the thing, just with titles like ‘GOP County Chair’ instead of ‘Beginner Blogger.’ I won’t pretend to equate that with all CRP things, and I especially can’t speak for GOP events in other states. I’m guessing the GOP varies greatly from California to Texas to New York to Vermont.

Republicans in Vermont. *snort*

Anyway. This was a whole new ballgame. These were … political consultants. What the heck do political consultants do? They help candidates win. Well, the good ones do, anyway.

It would be awesome if elections and campaigns were all about the message, the integrity of the candidate, and doing what’s best for our communities and country as a whole. The reality is, as my friend Brittany Cohan likes to say, is that politics is a game.

Only one thing wins elections – votes. Elections are number games. How many registered voters are in the constituency? How many voters intend to vote this cycle? How have they voted in the past? Can their vote be counted on? What’s it going to take to win the votes? It doesn’t matter if you’re the second coming yourself, if you don’t get the votes, you don’t win the election.

If politics is a game, and the candidate is the starting pitcher or the star quarterback, then the consultant is the coach. That’s a pretty loose analogy, especially given my (extremely) limited knowledge of sports, but it’s just something to give you a little bit of a picture of what happens in campaigns.

Maybe the candidate is the team owner … someone is going to have to help me out with my sports analogies…

The consultants analyze the numbers and come up with a strategy to win the votes. That’s why Karl Rove is always going on Fox News with his whiteboard and talking numbers. I’ve always understood that this is how it works, but it was cool to watch the really real professionals at work.

Because I was in Austin, Ashley Sewell drove in from Fort Worth. Because, duh, it’s Jenny and Ashley. Since Ms. Sewell and I were together in Texas, our favorite former Texas Railroad Commissioner and current congressional candidate Michael Williams met us for drinks. Since I was in Austin in the first place because Justin Hart brought me out to do some social media stuff and meet with some people, he joined up with us too. Then Justin’s CEO Ravi Singh stopped by to say hello, and he got to talking to Michael about his campaign.

Ravi’s company, ElectionMall, does this really cool Campaign Cloud thing. They got together with Microsoft to create this service that organizes campaign tools (social media, blast emails, donor lists, etc.), and makes them accessible through one login. They pretty much rule when it comes to managing campaign technology.

The conversation went something like this:

“Tell me about the race – what’s the seat?”

“U.S. Congress. District 33.”

“What’s the breakdown?”

“New seat. One of the four that Texas picked up in the census. The area voted for McCain in 2008.”

“How many candidates?”

“Eleven.”

“Ouch.”

“I know.”

“Ok, well how many votes do you need to win?”

Then they talked about some different strategies to get the vote out, how they could win over the independents, and how they could get sometimes voters to commit to going to the polls on Election Day. It was totally fascinating to watch, and a good reminder that if we want to win races and send conservative politicians to Washington, we have to play the game.

We need more than solid candidates. We need effective strategies and tools to gain supporters and get them to the polls on Election Day. That’s how we win.

The Time I met the Big Government Guys (And Stacy McCain), But Not Andrew Breitbart

Stacy McCain Flanked By Cute Chicks (What a Smile!)

My 27th Birthday started with a bang, in a hotel room in Redondo Beach, with the guys from Big Government, Stacy McCain, and my good friend Brittany Cohan all singing me Happy Birthday as the clock struck midnight. Then we watched Red Eye, where we all witnessed the hideous gloriousness of the Shake Weight commercial for the first time.

Happy birthday to me.

Now that I’ve set that all up, I know you want to hear the story.

Back before Brittany became a RINO DC-insider working for the man RNC, she lived an hour up the road from me in Irvine. Our birthdays are two weeks apart, so for mine I was driving to her and she was taking me out, and for hers, we switched. I had plans to go up to Irvine on January 6th, the day before my actual birthday.

That morning, Brittany called me and asked if I wanted to go to LA with her instead of just Irvine. That’s twice as long, Chica, what could possibly be in LA worth driving to?

“The guys from Big Government are going to be there. I got an invite. Andrew Breitbart might show up.”

Done and gone.

I was blogging away about politics at that point, but back then it was still a hobby and not a career. So this was a freaking big deal to me. I knew I had to make connections with people to get them to notice my stuff, and I just hoped that it was good enough to muster up.

You know my philosophy: Do good work and put it where people can see it.

Brittany and I went out to dinner in Irvine before heading up to Redondo, and I don’t remember what I had, except that it was delicious and I’m pretty sure it involved polenta. And wine. (I am who I am)

We headed up the 405, and met up with Stacy and a handful of others at some kitschy chain diner place. We sat and chatted with everyone, did the nice-to-meet-yous and the what-do-you-dos. Then we got kicked out of the restaurant because for some reason the employees wanted to go home after something called ‘closing time.’

So we hightailed it back to the hotel where this crowd was staying, and proceeded to occupy the bar. This is where Stacy made this embarrassingly awesome video of me saying, “Roll Tide!” which I’m fairly certain has something to do with college football. I mean, they were all there for the Rose Bowl. Did the Roll Tide team play in 2010? How many people reading this right now are rubbing their temples? Sorry people, I wear many hats, but sports enthusiast ain’t one of them.

Andrew never showed up, but I was having so much fun with these people that it didn’t matter too much. At one point, I was having this great conversation with some dude; I don’t remember what we were talking about, but he was wicked smart, funny as heck, and he laughed at my dumb jokes like he meant it.

“So how do you fit in with this group?” I asked him.

“Oh, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Big Government.” He said like it was no big deal.

Ack! Be smart! Be cute! Be clever! Oh eff it, he seems like a nice guy and I’m having a blast.

For some insane reason, the hotel bar closed before midnight, but that doesn’t stop can-do individuals. We just moved the whole party to one of their hotel rooms and broke out the whiskey. And turned Fox News on in the background. That’s how conservatives party.

When Red Eye switched on, someone said, “Hey, is it midnight? It’s Jenny’s birthday! Let’s sing!” At that point everyone was singing, including the freaking editor-in-chief of Big Government (one of my favorite websites), someone was pouring me another drink, Brittany and I were having a ball, and I was generally feeling pretty fantastic about life.

And then.

The Shake Weight commercial came on, and I don’t know if it was the first time it ever ran, or it was just the first time any of us had seen it, but it was the big giant bow on top of my birthday present.

It was an awesome night.

The Smart Girl Report – Episode 0042

Brittany Cohan and Glen Asbury join the fun.

The Smart Girl Report – Episode 0033

Brittany Cohan joins me for conservative chick chat on Rep. Etheridge (D-NC) and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak, plus Cocktail Time with Mike G.

The Smart Girl Report – Episode 0027

Jenny talks about the new immigrant law in Arizona, Ned Ryun of American Majority joins to share the low-down on Post Party Summits, conservative chick chat with Brittany Cohan, and cocktails with Mike G.

Enjoy!

Tonight on The Smart Girl Report- Conservative Youth

Special Guests Jackie Seal and Brittany Cohan join me to discuss what it’s like to be a young conservative in today’s liberal world. Also, Mike G. unveils the smart girl cocktail during Cocktail Time!

10pm Eastern on RFCradio.com