Dear Sir or Madame,
I'm not one to normally delve into the depths of little-tike (ie, youth) politics, but sometimes something comes across that amuses me so, that I can’t help myself from taking an interest.
Most of us “inside-baseball” types no doubt remember Mike Davidson going around the state, touting his “conservative” credentials. Well, BREAKING NEWS here on the Courant, this “conservative” is now employed by the NEW MAJORITY: RUGRAT edition, otherwise known as GENERATION NEXT.
Take a gander at this article from June, and next time you see Mike, remember just how full of it he really is.
Monday, June 27, 2005Elite and hip make up new GOP set Generation Next putting the 'party' in Republican Party as it defines where it stands on the issues.
By MARTIN WISCKOL The Orange County Register
These aren't your father's Republicans.
Paul Makarechian, 31, showed up in jeans to host an event with Assembly GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. That was at Fashion Island's trendy Ozumo Japanese restaurant. Another of the group's events, this one featuring a congressman, was held at Costa Mesa's hip Sutra Lounge.
One of the group's board members, land broker Craig Atkins, is spending much of the year surfing the world's best waves. Makarechian, the chairman, gleefully lists the spiky hair of one favored candidate as an attribute. The group, less Atkins, flew to Vegas this month for its board retreat, which included diversions beyond politics.
Welcome to Generation Next, a group of young entrepreneurial millionaires - and aspiring millionaires - gearing up to shape the GOP of the future. It's about fun. It's about image. It's about power. It's about networking.
Oh yeah, and it's about politics.
"Young people look at Republicans, and it's like a parental thing," said Makarechian, CEO of the company that runs the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. "We're finding more and more there's a void. ... We're building a network of Gen X entrepreneurs who are taking a progressive, practical approach to business and politics. Who look at what the education system and the business environment will be five, 10, 15 years from now. Who are shapers of culture."
Since forming last year, the Orange County-based group has signed up 20 members - by invitation only, with $10,000 in annual dues. Members include Bill Lyons, the son of developer William Lyons, and Jeff Gehl, the son-in-law of developer and former Ambassador to Spain George Argyros.
The group has had audiences with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Karl Rove's staff and the political director of the Republican National Committee. They've hired their own political director and have spent nearly $100,000 on various campaigns.
Yet they're still largely under the radar. Tom Fuentes, county GOP boss for 20 years until last year, has barely heard of them. Same with political insider Mike Schroeder, a former state GOP chairman.
That's by design, said co-founder Sinan Kanatsiz, who runs his own public-relations and marketing company.
"We've been very stealth. We want to establish ourselves first," said Kanatsiz, 30. "When we get to 50 members, then we'll be ready to hit."
They're also still developing their politics.
In broad terms, their stance is similar to that of the New Majority, a county group of multimillionaire businesspeople who tout fiscal responsibility and business-friendly government while advocating an open mind toward abortion, gun control, gay rights and immigration.
Indeed, Makarechian and Kanatsiz are also members of the New Majority.
"We are conservative on fiscal issues and mainstream on social issues," said Makarechian, whose father is developer and Republican donor Hadi Makarechian.
Policy specifics are few and far between, but here's a glimpse: The group supports Schwarzenegger's reform package, having contributed $10,000 to the campaign so far. They like that the governor comes from outside politics and is taking a different approach to government.
The group is backing Michael Davidson
to head the College Republican National Committee - between group and individual donations, they've contributed nearly $50,000. This is the guy with the spiky hair, whom they see as a good spokesman for the generation and a future leader. They like that he favors abortion rights and is sensitive to environmental issues.
But they also spent $30,000 to help President George W. Bush, who opposes abortion rights, in his Nevada campaign last year. One thing they like is Bush's attitude toward Social Security reform, even if they aren't sure it's the best one.
"We need to think outside the box," Makarechian said. "The world our children grow up in is going to be vastly different than ours. ... We can't just be thinking about the next election cycle."
When it comes to illegal immigration, they say they're still studying the issue.
Of course, their political inexperience and lack of specifics hasn't stopped them from winning fans.
"They're not looking at it from a micro point of view," said McCarthy, who took his own step toward modernizing the GOP at Christmas by handing out iPods to all Assembly Republicans. "It's from a macro point of view – the broader issues. ... These are people who are driving industry. They will be the leaders of the future. And they're helping to update the image of the party."
McCarthy also praised the group's diversity. While some GOP organizations seek to recruit minorities, Generation Next draws different cultures naturally. Makarechian was born in Iran to an Armenian father and a German mother. Kanatsiz's parents were born in Turkey. Two of the seven founding board members are Hispanic.
Many grass-roots activists are energized by opposition to abortion rights, gay rights and illegal immigration causes, but Makarechian says "the game is in the center" rather than based on those hot-button issues. That is bound to rile some, but so far even some who favor those causes - such as Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore - are giving the group the benefit of the doubt, welcoming their activism and money.
Some likely opponents outside the party are also treating the group gently, like a coach going easy on the other team's rookie.
For example, county Democratic Party boss Frank Barbaro.
"I think it's time a group of moderate Republicans who are not knee-jerk automatons comes out and looks at the entire forest," he said. "We're so polarized. I'm looking for Republicans who can work together with us. It's the inability to work together that is the problem with the country and the state."Yours in Freedom,ANTHONY AFTERWIT OC