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June 10, 2004

CCR South Central

The South Central chapter of the California College of Republicans had its monthly meeting this evening. The two hours flew by. I am so jazzed about the opportunity these guys are offering that I didn't even mind much that the Lakers got smashed.

We got off to a rousing start over the issue of the County Seal. Several of the people in attendance had been to the hearing the other day. I don't have a great deal to compare this with, but the passion over this issue is a real hornet's nest. I just wrote that this is a stupid fight, but I think it's a lot bigger than I imagined. There was plenty of ACLU bashing going on, and while I agree that this was a dumb move by the ACLU, sometimes they are right. But I wasn't about to speak up for them tonight. Mike Antonovich, it is rumored, will be trying to put the question up to the public. Republicans are going to get a petition going. This is going to be a litmus issue and I suspect that Yvonne Burke, Gloria Molina and Zev are going to be regretting their intemperate characterizations of the defenders of the cross. Molina says she's willing to go down for this. Good.

There was a touching presentation on Reagan by Jay Master, the man who created in 1981 the biggest political club on Cal Berkeley's campus - a Republican club. His experience reminds us that impossible odds can be defied.

There was much to comment about in this, the first of my meetings with the CCR, but what impresses me the most was the enthusiasm and sense of serious mission that all the folks in the room had. Men and women, young and old, black, white, latino and asian. Everyone had their individual connections and people wanted to know more people, get connected and meet up.

There was a palpable collective concern about Republicans willingness and ability to 'march down Crenshaw', but one of the the black old timers in the room reminded us that's exactly what George Deukmejian did and it wasn't too difficult. This same gent reminded us that he had run for office and managed to get over 50,000 votes with only $1,500 in campaign funds.

The manager for the Bush campaign for the Valley was there and we spoke for a short time. He told me of a candidate from Las Vegas who narrowly missed becoming the first black female Republican to be elected to Congress. His hunger for candidates was palpable.

I can't help but notice, from my own perspective, how similar this desire for African American participation is to other experiences. I'm telling you now, from my own eyeballs, that it's genuine. I've been in rooms full of fanatics before and I know what it's like to have a scary kind of feeling in your gut when you really don't want people around you to succeed. I didn't expect for a minute that it would be that way and it certainly wasn't, and I can't say that I was surprised by the enthusiasm. Yet it felt very oddly like a tremendous secret, and like a new adventure.

In many ways it reminded me of my first days with NSBE. In college, blacks in engineering along with the business majors were often the butt of jokes. There were always those who mocked our ambition to work in Corporate America. But we did what we set out to do, and there are still plenty of people who don't know NSBE, and cannot imagine the kind of successes it has delivered.

What excites me most, of course, is the machine. I'm in on the ground floor of Republican inroads to West LA and LA County which is dominated by Democrats. There's nothing but opportunity ahead.

Posted by mbowen at June 10, 2004 10:10 PM

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