Saturday, May 25, 2024

OPINION: Lincoln Day 2023

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| February 17, 2023 1:00 AM

The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee’s Lincoln Day has earned the reputation of hosting the best Lincoln Day in the state of Idaho. The secret to our success is a tremendous amount of hard work by a dedicated and talented team of volunteers combined with a focus to our mission.

In Idaho, nearly every county’s Republican Central Committee holds an annual Lincoln Day fundraising event. Until about seven years ago the KCRCC’s Lincoln Day was homage to Republican elected officials where a seemingly endless stream of politicians gave political speeches intermixed with pleas for donations. The results were lackluster.

The KCRCC decided to shift focus from the politicians to the guests. Every event decision was framed in the context of making Lincoln Day fun and entertaining for our guests. Since that fundamental change, every year our Lincoln Day has set records for attendance and fundraising, this year being no exception with over 900 attendees and raising more than $300,000.

Lincoln Day is actually three events starting at noon with a meet and greet featuring our keynote speaker. Our VIP event follows, where we thank our sponsors with an open bar, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and networking opportunities. The main event follows.

This year’s program opened with a video presentation and a review of our committee’s mission statement. Pastor Tim Remington offered the invocation followed by the Posting of the Colors by VFW Post 889. The highly decorated combat veteran and record setting aviator Dick Rutan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then Samuel Pinkerton gave a moving rendition of our National Anthem. The KCRCC’s “For the People” video signaled the serving of a delicious Surf & Turf dinner entrée.

Our first speaker was the Board of County Commissioners Chairman Leslie Duncan who offered brief remarks on the proper role of government. Next was our Student Scholarship Speech Competition where three finalists presented their 5 minute speeches. The audience was tasked with selecting the winner. Each of the 80 tables voted for their favorite. Those 80 votes were then tabulated and the winners were announced later in the evening.

This year’s winner of the $1,000 first place was Addison Harrison with George Clark and Isaiah Harrison tying for second and receiving $750 each. Videos of their, and all the speeches are available on the website. The seven runners up also each receive $100.

We raffled off four guns. Every attendee received a raffle ticket but many chose to increase their odds by buying more. The first winner was picked by Sara Walton Brady, the “Playground Mom” who drove up from Boise with her husband.

After screening the “We Are Idaho” video our Idaho Republican Party Chairman Dorothy Moon gave a party update. She then picked the second winning raffle ticket.

We then recognized our veterans and active duty military who have served our country with honor.

Congressman Russ Fulcher briefed us on what’s happening in Congress and then picked the next gun raffle winner. Next was the Dessert Dash where each table submits a silent bid for priority in selecting one of the 80 delicious deserts on display.

Comedian and commentator Alex Stein entertained the crowd and then introduced our keynote speaker Marjorie Taylor Greene. Congresswoman Greene gave an engaging keynote address and then picked the fourth and final gun raffle winner.

Congresswoman Greene is not without controversy. It was one of the reasons we invited her. Like most conservative Republicans, she is despised by the media and fake news about her is the norm. For example, her sensational headline comments regarding January 6th have often been denounced, but if one invests the 30 seconds it takes to view the original video you discover that she was responding to an accusation that freshman congresswoman Greene and Steve Bannon had organized Jan. 6. She mockingly responded “if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won.” It was clearly a joke that was deliberately taken out of context by a deceptive media.

Not all the festivities were in the Resort’s convention center. Outside there was comic relief provided by Alex Stein trolling a few dozen protestors, many of them from Washington State. Among them was the local Democrat party chairman who writes about being “mature” and showing “mutual respect” while complaining about “emotional’ or “sarcastic” political speech but then marches with those wishing to deny the First Amendment rights of a sitting congresswoman while shouting slurs and insults.

In the end, the protesters were the joke of the evening and they worked to our advantage. Instead of being cowed by threats of doxing, attendees took out their wallets and pushed donations up 25% over last year’s record.

The secret to a successful Lincoln Day event is to focus on giving the participants an enjoyable event to remember.

It’s just common sense.

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Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.