The Republican state convention is underway in Vancouver, Wash.
Saturday is the big finale, with speeches by candidates and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but the first two days are devoted to making the Republicans a “party of action,” party Chairman Luke Esser said.
So Thursday afternoon, party activists sat through a workshop on how to harness blogs and social media to their advantage. Today, they’re scheduled to go to “campaign school” for tips on wooing voters.
Candidates are milling in the crowd trying to build support from the party’s core.
One thing they won’t get here is an anointment. Later, the party could endorse Congressional candidates if it’s convinced a strong candidate to take on Democrats needs help in the primary. But Esser said: “This year there’s perhaps a strong desire to let the candidates make their case as much as possible, and we’ll support whoever the winner is in the August primary.”
In some other states, the tea party movement has helped drive more conservative nominees to primary wins, and tea party groups are meeting today at the convention.
Esser said he’s glad to have them participating rather than setting out as a third party. He’s not worried about them pushing out-of-the-mainstream candidates on the party.
“The Republican Party has always been energized from the right, whether it was Goldwater Republicans or Reagan Republicans or the Republican Revolution of 1994,” Esser said.
“I’m not concerned, because I think in the competition that will ensue over the next couple of months, the stronger candidates and the stronger ideas, I’m confident, will prevail.”