Gathering in the Alternative Universe
One such event is the Fifteenth Anniversary Convention of the Association of Massachusetts Republican Town and Ward Committees, called the AMRC. Ably chaired by Dick Hersum, this year was especialy well attended in Waltham by about 100 attendees from around the state.
The opening night dinner had a main speaker, Charlie Baker, President and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. While Charlie gave a good dinner speech on Republican principles, the big hit of the evening was an unannounced speaker, Col. Jim Ogonowski, seen here with Chip Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxation. The candidate for the Fifth Congressional District seat has a web site up HERE. He gave a brief, unpolished and entirely sincere speech. His campaign style reminded Porcupine of two other successful non-politicians - Reed Hillman and Sheriff Jim Cummings, both of the State Police. While neither began as a polished campaigner, the electorate responded to their obvious honesty and intelligence, and Porcupine thinks that lightning might strike a thir time with Col. Ogonowski. Especially if he gets Fred Smerlas' backing!
The following morning began with breakfast, and a man with a radio show and a stack of books, bumper stickers, and magnets in the hotel lobby. Howie, he said his name was. However, Porucpine already had a copy of The Brothers Bulger, and instead opted to get a copy of On the Hunt by Col. David Hunt, pictured here with Party Chairman Peter Torkildson. While 8:00 am may seem a little early in the day to hear the Carr and Colonel Cross Talk act, they were amusing, pointed and much appreciated.
There were workshops throughout the day. Porcupine chose the erudite and efficiently non-partisan Michael Sulivan of the Office of Campaign and Poltical finance over Chairman Torkildson on Party building.
After lunch came a panel discussion by Barbara Anderson, Guardian Angel and Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, Charles Arlinghaus, President of the Josiah Bartlett Center For Public Policy in Concord, NH; David Tuerck, the Executive Director of the Beacon Hill Institute, and Jessica Vaughan, Senior Policy Analyst, Center For Immigration Studies, Washington, DC. the recommendations of the panel were that the economic costs of illegal immigration in the work market and taxation policy were the prime issues for the GOP in this next election cycle.
After the Panel Discussion, Porcupine chose to attend a workshop called "New Media – Internet, Web Sites, Blogs" by Mark Antonelli, of the AMRC Board while loaning his computer to Ladd Moore for a neighboring workshop on the Voter Vault GOP database program. Porcupine can always use a few extra tips, and the afternoon attendance of more than fifty GOP activists proved that the Mass. GOP is finally coming to proper grips with the tools offered in the Blogosphere.
As the Conference ended, Porcupine reflected on how pleaent it was to spend a weekend with more the 100 Republican thinkers in the undiscovered Alternative Universe.