Florida Conservatives Set to Shine at CPAC
Around the State
With activists from across the nation headed to Washington for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which begins Thursday, conservatives from the Sunshine State will be on center stage.
Al Cardenas, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), was named on Wednesday to head up the American Conservative Union (ACU), the group that hosts CPAC. Cardenas succeeds conservative icon David Keene who led the group for more than 25 years.
Cardenas, who had served as the ACU’s treasurer was elected without opposition despite grumblings from some social conservatives who maintained he did not share their commitment to traditional values.
“The American Conservative Union has a long and proud tradition of espousing and promoting the conservative goals of limited government and fiscal responsibility, and it’s my honor to do all I can to help further these worthy objectives,” said Cardenas. “I look forward to taking advantage of the new energies we see today in the conservative movement to make this storied organization even more influential in the future.”
“Al is a perfect leader for the ACU – he grew up as a movement conservative, knows how to work with all the various component interests within the conservative coalition, and is highly respected by those who know him,” said Keene, who had led the group since 1984. “Given his character, qualifications, and record of leadership, I am confident that the ACU will continue to prosper and grow under his watch.”
While 11 of the possible Republican presidential candidates will be speaking at CPAC, social conservatives have protested the event, including gay rights group GOProud.
Noting the recent centennial of the birth of President Ronald Reagan, Cardenas stressed values shared by most conservatives.
“In this, the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth, the best way to honor him and his memory is to promote our conservative principles with the same vigor and relentless optimism that he used to successfully expand the conservative base,” Cardenas said.
“In addition to our commitment to fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense, it is imperative the ACU continue to champion the traditional values upheld by our Founding Fathers – values that were so important to President Reagan.”
Freshman Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West, who spoke at last year’s CPAC meeting, will be offering the keynote address.
“Congressman West epitomizes the core conservative values CPAC attendees treasure: a basic belief in human freedom, traditional values, and a love of country based on an appreciation of the nation’s founding documents,” said Keene.
“We at CPAC watched with excitement last year as one of our own, Congressman West, won one of the most important congressional races in the country and conveyed his conservative beliefs to Washington. His efforts on conservative issues important to his constituents and his thoughtful leadership among the newest members of the U.S. House make him the perfect keynote speaker for this year’s conference.”
West will not be the only speaker from the Sunshine State. Fellow Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who is a potential candidate to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, will also be speaking to the conference on Saturday morning. Mack will be introduced by businessman Oliver Grace of Jupiter Island.
Javier Manjareres of the Shark Tank will be honored with CPAC’s “Blogger of the Year” award on Friday and Jerome Hudson of Florida State University will take part in a panel on student activism.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.