The Newport Harbor Republican Women scare me.
Not because Judy Franco used to force me to walk precincts, not because behind every good man is a woman … holding a bat (not just Judy), and not even because they can single-handily alter election outcomes.
No, if I was previously afraid and intimidated by the NHRW, after going to a recent monthly mixer and seeing a very large room at the Pacific Club overflowing with more than 160 Republican ladies, and about five guys (including me), to hear a UC Irvine economics lecturer (?), I definitely am now.
But let’s back up just five years, to when they used to meet at the Five Crowns dining room. Dolores Otting was the President and the group was VERY strong, VERY active, VERY grassroots, but … smaller. Actually quaint. The few monthly meetings that I attended filled the back dining room of the Five Crowns, while the Christmas party/meeting/fashion show filled up a bit more.
You knew that you could count on these ladies to make a difference, you knew that you could count on m to make phone calls to Get Out the Vote, and you knew you could get them to force me and other scared young men to walk precincts.
So after years of not attending any of their meetings, I received an email from the current NHRW President Victoria Street insisting that I needed to go to their next luncheon, but although I would be seated at the VIP table, I would still have to pay for my own lunch … OK, fine.
My expectations, well, they were based on the meetings I used to attend BEFORE my 5-year-old triplets were born, when the NHRW was quaint, but still very powerful and still very formidable.
Now? Going into the newly designed Pacific Club (haven’t been since I was a valet there back in the mid-90s), I casually strolled to the back of the main building, into the large dining room to see it completely filled to the brim with Republican women … and I was right on time, too. I mean FILLED TO THE BRIM.
I quietly picked up my nametag, paid the $30 for lunch, and then surveyed the room, looking for a familiar face. I then went back to the reception table and asked if these 150-160 ladies were the normal turnout.
Nope, I was told, usually they have more.
As it turns out, the group’s membership really exploded around 2010, after two years of President Obama, and their monthly meetings usually have more than 200 Republican Women attend. And their membership is growing because when the crowd was asked how many had just joined in 2011; about a quarter raised their hands.
So a few weeks back, I opined about the upcoming State Assembly race with former Costa Mesa Mayor and current State Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, indicting that I was going to support former California Republican Party Treasurer Keith Carlson. Well, at the table, I got to sit next to former Costa Mesa Mayor and current State Assemblyman Allan Mansoor. Considering that Allan and I go back a few years, let’s just say that I deserved the well-natured ribbing that I received from him. But that empty seat between us did get a bit uncomfortable …
So the speaker was there to talk about how Communist China, because of all the trade inequities, was destroying the American economy, and how using American dollars to buy Chinese made products was bad. All the while using his Chinese manufactured Apple laptop and talking about ordering his Chinese manufactured iPhone 4s … so I left a little bit confused after the 1½-half hour lecture.
But what I wasn’t confused about was how impressed I was with the Newport Harbor Republican Women. To be a successful candidate, you typically need two things, money and a good ground game. And a major part of this ground game always came from the Republican Women clubs. But now, with Newport Beach’s Republican Women Club’s numbers tripled, if not quadrupled since the last elections, these ladies will be a MAJOR force in the upcoming elections, since after scanning the overflowing crowd at the toney Pacific Club, they appear to have BOTH money and grassroots outreach. Scary is how influential these ladies will be in the upcoming elections…
So … to join or to check them out, go to their website, www.nhrw.org, email them at [email protected] or attend their Nov. 17 meeting from11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., again at the Pacific Club. And if you are a candidate for City Council, School Board, State Assembly, or Dog Catcher, I would strongly suggest you go and meet these Newport Beach Republican Women.
You’ll be sorry if you don’t.