GOP unveils its ‘Rising Stars’ program

August 15, 2013

Eager to attract a wider range of support from voters, Republican Party leaders moved Thursday to shine a spotlight on the next generation of conservative activists, authors and politicians with a new "Rising Stars" program.


RNC chairman Reince Priebus (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The project is the brainchild of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who this year ordered a top-to-bottom review of GOP messaging, recruitment and get-out-the-vote operations that concluded the party needed to beef up its efforts to recruit younger and minority voters.

In response, Priebus said Thursday, the "Rising Stars" program plans to promote the "incredible talent in our party -- from activists and authors to candidates and elected officials."

The four charter members of the group are Karin Agness, founder of Network of Enlightened Women, a network of conservative academics; Scott Erickson, a San Jose, Calif., police officer and writer for the Heritage Foundation; Marilinda Garcia, a New Hampshire state representative and longtime GOP activist; and T.W. Shannon, the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

A Web site promoting the group features photos of all four members.

The "Rising Stars" program was launched at the annual RNC Summer Meeting underway in Boston. Party leaders are gathering for closed-door meetings and workshops and speeches by several GOP notables, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Party leaders are also scheduled to vote Friday on a resolution regarding debates to be held during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Priebus has threatened to withhold debate opportunities from CNN and NBC, because the networks are planning to air movies about Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has not said whether she will mount another presidential campaign, but who is widely expected to be the Democratic frontrunner if she joins the race.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Aaron Blake | August 15, 2013