Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

Things seem to be heating up in the Republican Party. We had a busy month here in September and October looks to be just as exciting. It’s hard to believe we’re still 13 months away from Election Day 2016 with all this activity going on around the country, in Michigan and right here in good old Kalamazoo.

September was a barn-burner with the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference packed in the middle of the month. There were so many people up there and I was impressed with the amount of Kalamazoo people I saw on the Island.

What an exciting time! We had five presidential candidates stumping (one pulled a no-show and dropped out two days later), which created quite a buzz. I’ve never seen so many people lined up at the docks to see Carly Fiorina arrive at the Island. You would have thought The Beatles had arrived (like they did at Shea Stadium in the early 1960s). For those younger readers: The Beatles was Paul McCartney’s band before Wings — and if you don’t know who Paul McCartney was, we’ve officially crossed the generation gap.

I would think most people would know what Woodstock was if I brought that up, even if you didn’t live through that era. But just in case: Woodstock was a music festival held at a 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills in New York in the late 1960s. During the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 people. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history. Rolling Stone listed it as one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.

There were elements of Woodstock at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, except I didn’t see a prolific amount of drug use and passed out college students on Mackinac Island. But we saw lots of speeches and politics going on, reminiscent of Woodstock. From Carly Fiorina’s rockstar entrance, to the packed dinners at The Grand Hotel to hear such speakers as Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, Mackinac Island had that same kind of Utopian feel that I’m sure they felt in 1969 on that farmer’s field.

It was exciting to see all the hosted parties and receptions by candidates and their supporters. Discussion revolved around all the Republican candidates and who supported whom. The Michigan GOP had some very insightful panel discussions throughout the weekend that were very worthwhile, as well.

October looks to be equally exciting for the Kalamazoo GOP. On Friday, Oct. 2, we welcome Michigan GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel to town as our guest speaker for our monthly luncheon. Note that this is not our ordinary date to meet. Ronna will discuss with us the MiGOP’s plans for the 2016 campaigns. She is visiting us as part of her “Listening Tour” of the state.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Kalamazoo will take center stage once again with a visit by presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. The event is free, but pre-registration is required on Eventbrite. The rally will begin at 8:30 a.m. with Mr. Cruz speaking about 9:30 a.m.

To round out the month, I will be hosting a Chairman’s Reception on Monday evening, Oct. 26, at the Beacon Club. We want to honor those local Republican members who are supporting the party and candidates with a Gold Membership or higher. This is an event I hope we can turn into an annual recognition.