The Republican Party of Virginia is picking a top conservative blogger as its executive director.
Pat Mullins, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, announced on Tuesday that Shaun Kenney, the founder of the respected conservative blog Bearing Drift, has been named executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia. The move comes at a critical time for the party, with no major statewide political office held by a Republican and a bitter civil war brewing at the county level between Tea Party activists and establishment Republicans.
Kenney, who served as the chairman of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors from 2010 to 2013, has worked well with both sides in the past. His strong traditional conservative reputation positions him to lessen the gap between the two. But succeeding in his new position will take every ounce of his political skills.
Kenney’s appointment was greeted with enthusiasm by many activists. “Whoa! Great get for RPV!” posted veteran party activist Kate Obenshain on her Facebook wall. “Shaun Kenney just landed one of the toughest jobs in Virginia. And we need him. Shaun understands the challenges ahead, and he’ll be smart and savvy in dealing with them. I’m heartened about our Party’s future today.”
Chairman Mullins emphasized Kenney’s ability to work with all sides in his announcement. “When I started the search for out next Executive Director, I realized that we needed someone from outside the traditional mold,” Mullins said. “Someone who has been in the arena, someone with real world leadership experience, and someone who understands the changing nature of campaign and communications.”
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, Kenney hit the same note. “It takes a little bit of finesse, twenty years of experience with the party, and generally being tolerated by all side to be an effective executive director. The executive director is kind of like the first diplomat. You listen to all sides, give them the truth, and they generally respect that,” he told Breitbart News.
“As executive director my job is to make sure our conventions run smoothly, and our nominees are in the best possible position to win the general election,” Kenney said. “In 2014, that means defeating Senator Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).”
The party, whose fortunes had been on the upswing with the election of Republican Bob McDonnell as governor in 2009 and an effective takeover of the state senate in 2011, has fallen on hard times since. Barack Obama won the state over Mitt Romney in 2012, and George Allen’s senate bid the same year failed miserably.
Then, in 2013, the party squandered an opportunity to keep the governor’s mansion. Then-Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, miffed that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli won the party’s gubernatorial nomination, took his ball and went home. His former top consultant Marcus Boyd, turned Benedict Arnold and went to work for Democratic nominee McAuliffe’s campaign.
Cuccinelli ran a poor campaign for governor, failing to hit on a major campaign theme of opposition to Obamacare until it was too late and alienating the grassroots by excluding them from his campaign operations. In the end, McAuliffe won the race, but barely, 48 percent to 46 percent.
Cuccinelli responded positively to the announcement of Kenney’s appointment, donating $25,000 to the Republican Party of Virginia on Tuesday. Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates are also expected to respond publicly in favor of Kenney’s appointment on Thursday.
The 36 year old Kenney served as Director of Communications for the Republican Party of Virginia in 2007 and is currently finishing the undergraduate degree he started eighteen years ago at Catholic University. He is currently enrolled on a part-time basis at the University of Virginia.
In his exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, Kenney said he has three top priorities.
“First things first is getting back on offense as our top priority. We must make sure the Democrats can’t run from their records,” Kenney said. “For instance, Senator Warner was the deciding vote on Obamacare, and Terry McAuliffe is doing everything in his power to force it down the throats of families in Virginia.”
“Second is the grassroots,” Kenney added. “The grassroots need the tools to execute. For too long we’ve given them a direction, but not the tools needed to execute. A lot of that has to do with rebuilding our lists, getting our donor file up, and making folks feel they are part of the family again.”
“The third and last priority is restoring a spirit of hard work,” Kenney noted.
Kenney then demonstrated his ability for communications and messaging by delivering what may become one of the most memorable lines of 2014. “For too long we’ve lulled ourselves into the complacency of the Karl Rove era, where we think we can campaign behind desks,” he said.
Kenney closed his exclusive interview with Breitbart News by criticizing liberals and encouraging conservatives to be true to their convictions.
“The liberals would love nothing more than for us to be ashamed of being conservatives,” he said. “We need to send a message out that there’s nothing shameful about defending the second amendment, defending small government, and defending the basic human right to exist. There is everything shameful about destroying our constitution, expanding our government, or defending the practice of abortion on demand.”