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Friday
Feb272009

GOP reclaims roots with new minority office in Jacksonville

Dignitaries cut the ribbon anchored by a black elephant.(Jacksonville, Fla.)—Thursday evening the opening of the new Minority Headquarters for Duval County Republicans drew an overflow crowd so packed we were shoulder to shoulder. People came in all colors and nationalities to celebrate meeting a goal that began more than a year ago. The headquarters will be operated by the Joseph E. Lee Club. Darcell Streeter, project co-chair, emceed the program.

Streeter welcomed dignitaries like Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, Florida State Rep. Jennifer Carroll (Dist.13), Alci Maldonado, Chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and others. Streeter said, “This is not just the opening.” She said the headquarters represents a partnership for development, outreach and leadership—“to advance the principles and beliefs of this great Republican Party.”

State party chair Jim Greer was unable to attend because he was traveling with Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele and Governor Charlie Crist. Streeter read a letter Greer sent; he said, “Minority outreach is a national priority.”

Duval County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Lenny Curry.Duval County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Lenny Curry spoke, urging the GOP to be a “national party of ideas.” Curry stressed the GOP must include all people regardless of race, age, religion or gender. “Democrats say this is a token move,” Curry said. With a smile, he added, “Look around this room.”

Alci Maldonado, Chairwoman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly shared a fact not well known by many younger Hispanics. “There have been great visionaries in our party,” she said. “Presidents George H. W. Bush and President Nixon gave Hispanics a seat at the table. We are the party of family and faith…there is no limit to our vision.”

Rep. Carroll, a natural speaker who charmed the crowd, received a standing ovation. “Back in the 1800s,” Carroll said, “the only party blacks could join was the Republican Party. Our principles still remain.” Carroll said the GOP was formed to put an end to slavery. She pointed out history making Republicans like Condoleezza Rice, noting the criticism Rice endured. “You didn’t see her on a t-shirt,” Carroll said.

It was obvious to me the party is re-energizing and re-grouping for future elections. The makeup of those in the room dispelled myths about the GOP—that it’s a party of old white men. The attendees represented the iconic melting pot that made our country great. “The faces America sees are the faces in this room,” Carroll said. There were also approximately a dozen members of the Republican Liberty Caucus in attendance.

One guest said to me, “We’re coming up with our own community organizers.” I responded, “No, we’re community doers.”

Rep. Jennifer Carroll (FL-13) was enthusiastically received. Carroll is also an entrepreneur and U.S. Navy veteran.In all, it was an amazing evening. The GOP is reclaiming its roots, restating the partnership the party has had with minorities since President Abraham Lincoln. There’s an excellent primer on legislative successes at the Joseph E. Lee Club website. Sam Newby, president of the club and second vice chair of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee, said right now it’s not “cool” to be a Republican. “We’re going to go after every vote,” he said. I think he means it.

Darcell Streeter emceed the program and was project co-chair. Sam Newby is 2nd vice chair of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee and president of the Joseph E. Lee Republican Club. Alci Maldonado, chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Thanks Kay, great article.

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Sarah, appreciate it--I did an essay for Red County too, and that should pub in a few days. That goes through an editor, so there is sometimes a delay.

This was an amazing evening--I'd hoped to find you but there were so many people there I didn't succeed. So I'll hopefully meet ya at the next meetup! best, Kay

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKay B. Day

Awesome article, Kay, and thank you for coming and writing the article and taking pictures! I thought the ribbon-and-elephant was going to be a nice shot. That was a great event last night, with so many great people. That's what it's all about: The people around us.

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErik Setzer

I really think if people came to events like this, they'd see the rumbling of a whole new momentum. It was an astounding night. I just registered for the RLC conference-I'm going to cover that for here and for Red County. Will really be fun. Thank you for kind words! best,Kay

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKay

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