Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Nicolee, Now

I have blogged quite a bit about the National Committeewoman’s race - maybe even too much, some might say. And, I have certainly had a jolly old time pointing out the serial gaffes, misrepresentations, and embellishments of one of the candidates.

But it occurred to me that I have yet to articulate why I think Nicolee Ambrose is the ideal person for the job.

I know what you’re thinking…because she’s a friend of mine. But that really isn’t the reason. 

In fact, I saw Nicolee as an outstanding potential National Committeewoman before I really even got to know her personally. 

Our mutual friend Gineen Bresso, now running for Congress in Florida, served in the Young Republican National Federation with Nicolee, and used to regale me with stories of all the programs and initiatives she and Nicolee were involved in.

For example, late in 2006, Nicolee hatched a plan to bring in busloads of young Republican activists from neighboring states to campaign door-to-door for Bob Ehrlich, Michael Steele, and legislators in Western Maryland

When the political director of a beneficiary campaign arrogantly dismissed this no brainer of an idea, Nicolee was undaunted. Instead, she did what you’d expect a skilled problem solver to do: looked elsewhere for the nominal funding needed, found it, and did it anyway.

So a busload of GOP partisans came into Western Maryland, the cost-effective event was hailed as a success, and the originally dismissive campaign aide was on hand at a subsequent event in Anne Arundel County to feign credit for the idea after its value had been demonstrated.

After hearing the story, I said, “See, THAT is who we need as National Committeewoman.”

I didn’t get to know Nicolee well until a few years after that. But when the announcement came that Joyce Tehres was stepping down, I was one of the first to encourage Nicolee to run. 

Nicolee is one of those energetic, dynamic individuals who seems to have a knack for organizing things, and for gently herding people, and the party, into the direction in which they should be headed.

She knows how to network, but I wouldn’t call her a schmoozer - that term implies a lack of authenticity. All the years I spent working in politics gave me an ability to identify and dismiss the shallow in record speed. 

Nicolee is authentic. At the heart of that authenticity: A transparent enthusiasm for growing the Republican Party.

Not only is she enthusiastic about it…she’s pretty good at it, too.

As YRNF Chairman, she turned an obscure organization into a real player in GOP politics. 

You can gauge this by looking at the caliber of the individuals who participated in YRNF events during her watch: President George W. Bush, NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Actor/former Senator Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Governor Mike Huckabee, Governor Charlie Crist, Governor Bobby Jindal, Congressman Steve Scalise, Governor Bob Ehrlich and Lt Governor Michael Steele, Senator George Voinovich, and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, just to name a few. 

And she proved herself to be a doer, too. 

In 2006 she created from scratch the YRNF’s "Targeted State" national deployment program, which achieved successful results despite 2006 being a dismal year for Republicans.  

During her tenure as YRNF chair, YR national affiliated activities raised well over $600,000.

You can tell when people are succeeding in politics, because they keep getting additional assignments. 

In 2008, Nicolee led nationwide organizations targeting young professionals for two presidential campaigns: Fred Thompson and McCain/Palin.

And, in between all that politicking, Nicolee managed to hold down a pretty impressive day job as a presidentially-appointed Special Assistant at the Bush Labor Department, where she pushed for conservative priorities including increased transparency for union dues.

And, here in Maryland, Nicolee has been busy, too. She is a member of the MD GOP Finance Committee, and just recently organized a successful fundraiser with Congressman Allen West of Florida

Yet another sign of her enthusiasm: She has worked for scores of local candidates and causes, and has never once  been paid for doing it.

The reason I think Nicolee is the best candidate for National Committeewoman is she has the energy and enthusiasm the job needs – not to mention the national contacts and experience her opponent, a fixture of Maryland GOP politics for 40 years, lacks.

I have no doubt Audrey Scott could ably fulfill the traditional, ceremonial, mashed potato circuit role past National Committeewomen have played. But Nicolee Ambrose has the skills to make it something more. 

In terms of what the position should be, I point to Jill Homan, just elected National Committeewoman for the District of Columbia, as an example. Jill also happens to be a friend of mine, as well as a fellow veteran of Ehrlich world.  

Jill defeated her better-known, establishment opponent after waging a high energy, shoe-leather campaign. Now, despite being in her new role for less than three weeks, she has already hit the ground running, aggressively stumping for the party’s newly-minted nominees. 

Nicolee Ambrose is willing to accept all the traditional duties of National Committeewoman, yet also deliver new value in the areas of communications, fundraising, and grassroots development. She promises deliverables, and is willing to be held accountable for them.

So, that’s why I think Nicolee is the better candidate. It really has nothing to do with our friendship.  It has to do with her accomplishments and – most importantly – her potential. 

She is not what the party needed 40 years ago, or may need 40 years in the future.

She is what the party needs right now. 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Heather, let's just say the staffer in question is from the Flintstonian wing of the MD GOP.