One of the country’s largest alliances of Republican activists — as well as one of the most conservative — has gathered in Scottsdale this weekend to craft strategies for the 2006 elections.
The National Federation of Republican Assemblies isn’t a formal arm of the Republican Party, but serves as a political gathering point for Christian and social conservatives seeking to push the GOP further to the right. The group started in California about 70 years ago, but spread across the U.S. during the presidency of Ronald Reagan and now has chapters in every state.
"The driving force is the erosion of the Founding Fathers’ original principles. They are being eroded and compromised by both parties," said Barbara Blewster of Mesa, the assemblies’ executive vice president. "We have watched many (third) parties start and fizzle. So we decided we needed to organize with the Republican Party itself."
For the next two days at Chaparral Suites, convention delegates will hear about strategies for electing Republican politicians that hold fast to the group’s core issues including opposition to abortion, low taxes and gun rights. The list of speakers scheduled to appear includes Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential presidential candidate and chairman of the National Association of Governors.
Stopping illegal immigration is an expanding part of the group’s agenda, and speakers on that issue will include state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa and Jim Gilchrist, a co-founder of the Minuteman Project. A leading national figure in the immigration control movement, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., will be the keynote speaker at the convention’s awards dinner tonight.
The group holds national conventions every two years but is making its first trip to Arizona.