The role of political party county chairman includes three main tasks: recruiting candidates, recruiting volunteers and raising money. The money we raise in our local activities, we use to support our candidates running for local office and our Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. Raising money for the local party is very "grass roots," and the members of our larger community with "big egos" and big money usually direct their efforts to statewide and federal candidates and campaigns. I believe this is the same way things are arranged in the opposition party. George Clooney, who recently held a big fundraiser for President Obama, is unlikely to show up at a Los Angeles County Democrat County Committee fundraiser.
It is a challenge to raise money for the county committee, competing as we are with candidates running at every level, Tea Party groups and other politically active groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, Heritage Foundation etc. There isn’t a day that I don’t receive 10 to 15 requests for money in my email inbox, not to mention the direct mail pieces that find their way to my mailbox. But still we must raise funds since we do not receive any money from the state party and only from direct contributions from our network.
Our Alameda County GOP held a fundraiser last night [May 24] to beef up our bank account. Our ticket price was $75 per person, not an expensive event. We usually have a well-known speaker at our events to encourage attendance and last night that included an invitation to Republican Congressman Dan Lungren. We also invited Ricky Gill, an exciting young Congressional candidate getting a lot of attention in his district near Stockton and Lodi.
We try to have our events in a nice location that will be comfortable and easy to reach and we held this one at Sequoyah Country Club in the Oakland Hills. Imagine our surprise when a group of about 30 Occupy Protesters barged into our private party on private property with a bull horn, a cameraman from Channel 2 and Carla Marinucci, political reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle.
There was no one to see the protesters other than a few members of Sequoyah Country Club and the guests at our Alameda County GOP event. They were there to protest Congressman Lungren, whose re-election Nancy Pelosi and the CA Democrats would like to defeat. The Democrats hope to pick up one to six Congressional seats out of the 53 in California, and they think there is an opportunity due to the newly drawn district boundaries, and the fact that California is likely to be won by Barack Obama, which will help "down-ballot" races.
The protesters thought it was a "champagne and chardonnay" crowd of affluent Republicans raising money for Dan Lungren, and Carla Marinucci from the S F Chronicle didn’t bother to ask questions or check the facts. Prior to this I thought she was a higher-caliber journalist and not simply a "drive-by" reporter, but I can tell you that nobody, including Carla Marinucci, contacted me for information in order to understand why we were gathering. It was simply a rude "surprise attack" and Ms. Marinucci and Channel 2 participated.
So how did the protesters know about our party? Clearly our invitation was hijacked and shared. It is a sorry state of affairs when a local county party can’t hold a private event on private grounds without an obnoxious interruption by 30 uninvited people. It is also sad to me that the news media chases a "non-story" simply to embarrass Republicans. There was no "there — there," to quote Gertrude Stein. The event wasn’t what they thought and if it is true that some of the protesters came from Dan Lungren’s district in Sacramento, they spent a lot of time and money (or their benefactors did) setting them up. They never did see Congressman Lungren, who arrived after the protesters’ departure.
We called the police to remove the protesters from the private property and it took the Oakland PD about 30 minutes to respond. There weren’t any ugly altercations as the protesters moved on.
I could tell you more stories about the ugliness of the opposition party behavior. There are stories about union leaders intimidating local Republican candidate family members, slashing tires and breaking into private property. Is this how we want our political discourse to be? I have many friends who are Democrats and I wonder if they feel it is acceptable for this "anything goes" behavior? It is really very disappointing and ugly when confronted.