The recent State Republican Convention attracted more than 2,125 people, which included several individuals from Camas, Washougal and a certain former governor of Massachusetts.
The convention, held primarily at the Vancouver Convention Center, next to the Hilton, has been called “the largest state convention in a non-presidential election year for the Washington state Republican Party,” according to Ryan Hart, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party.
“It was an extremely successful convention,” he added. “It’s an opportunity to energize Republicans.”
Hart, a Hazel Dell delegate, said it had been more than 30 years since a state Republican Convention was held in this area.
“The county is much different now,” he said. “It is much larger. We’ve seen more conservative-minded people moving into the area.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase all we have to offer in this part of the state,” Hart added.
Those who attended the convention had opportunities to see the Pearson Air Museum and Officers Row at Fort Vancouver during a June 10 welcome reception. A “Party at the Park,” held the following evening at Esther Short Park, featured live music.
After Mitt Romney gave his keynote speech June 12, he attended a reception as the honored guest at the home of David and Patricia Nierenberg, in Camas.
Hart was among the individuals who attended the reception.
“His speech at the convention was very inspiring, and at the reception he was also very inspiring,” Hart said. “Not too often do you get a potential presidential contender in Camas.
“The convention was a beautiful thing,” he added. “Most the activities were in Vancouver, but this was really an effort in Clark County with support from Camas and Washougal Republicans, Yacolt and La Center. Everyone played a role. It was a historic moment in our backyard. It was a real honor.”
Brent Boger, of Washougal, also attended the local reception. In addition to serving as a delegate and Clark County’s Republican State committeeman, he was on the host committee for the state convention as well as the reception for Romney.
Boger and Hart were among the individuals, along with the Southwest Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau, who put together a bid for the state convention, which attracted 1,150 delegates.
“This was probably the biggest political convention in Clark County history, and it went off without a hitch,” Boger said.
Anna Miller, of Camas, was also among the delegates. She is treasurer of the Clark County Republican Party and membership chair of the county Republican Women’s Club.
Miller served on the local planning committee for the statewide event.
“The goal was to open up the convention to not just the delegates who attended in record numbers, but to also provide every opportunity for the public to participate and get up close and personal with the Republicans of Washington State,” she said. “Our goal was to bring business to Greater Vancouver and to provide the Republican delegates, alternates and guests with a great experience.”
Washougal City Council members Jon Russell, Dave Shoemaker and Michael Delavar were at the convention.
Russell is a Republican candidate for the 18th Legislative District Position 1.
“I attended as a candidate, to meet other Republicans from around the state,” he said. “I used the event as a fundraising opportunity for my campaign.”
Shoemaker was there as an elected delegate from the 15th legislative district.
“This was my first state party convention,” he said. “It was interesting to see our Republican form of government at work.”
Delavar attended as a delegate during the Saturday sessions.
“The convention itself was eight long hours of listening to truly inspiring speeches from some candidates, empty platitudes from other candidates and getting 1,200 delegates to agree on the rules and platform,” he said. “Most of the time was consumed by the candidate speeches. Very little time was actually devoted to discussing the issues, although there was a good platform that was passed by 5 o’clock.”
Highlights of the platform, according to Delavar, included a call to audit the Federal Reserve, support for right-to-work laws, a call to repeal the Growth Management Act and the national health care mandate, and a rejection of amnesty for illegal aliens.
Delavar’s wife, Katja Delavar, also attended the convention as a delegate.
The State Democratic Convention will be held Friday, at the Vancouver Convention Center, 301 W. Sixth St.; and Saturday’s sessions will be at the Clark County Events Center, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield. The keynote speaker will be former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Hart said having both conventions in this area benefits the community.
“It helps businesses and hotels,” he said. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”
For more information about the Democratic convention, visit www.wa-democrats.org.