CPAC

NEWSMAX: Contract From America Rose from Obscurity

By Ronald Kessler

Ryan Hecker got the idea while he was shaving: Why not hold politicians accountable to conservative principles with a “Contract from America”?

Bookish and intense, Hecker, 29, is hardly the sort of person you would expect to galvanize a political movement. But as a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with Vinson and Elkins in Houston, Hecker has impressive credentials.

He has another thing going for him: Outrage.

Outrage was what he was feeling about the Bush administration’s plan to bail out banks when he thought up the Contract from America in December 2008. In contrast to Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the new contract would bubble up from the grass roots, setting forth principles that politicians would be asked to embrace.

Now, tens of thousands of activists have voted on what they consider the top 10 principles.

At a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Hecker and other Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United announced plans to unveil the final document on April 15.

Despite the growing power of his concept, until now, no one in the media has interviewed Hecker about his background and how he arrived at the idea for the contract.

Hecker tells Newsmax he grew up in a liberal family in Manalapan, N.J. His father taught math at a middle school and at the College of Staten Island, where his mother also taught math. Hecker’s uncle, Democrat Marty Markowitz, is Brooklyn’s borough president.

When Hecker was 16, Hecker’s congressman, Republican Michael J. Pappas, got him a page job, which exposed him to the arguments of Republicans on the Hill.

“A lot of the pages were running around delivering packages all day, but my job was to sit in the cloakroom and wait for phone calls and go on the floor,” Hecker says. “So I witnessed a lot of debates.”

While attending New York University, Hecker joined a debate team and was impressed by the arguments of conservatives who leaned toward being libertarian.

“The strongest arguments, especially on economic and individual rights issues, were for me always the conservative position,” Hecker recalls.

Hecker was not shy about letting his parents know that he had become a Republican.

“My mom still thinks like, Oh, you’re doing what you’re doing, and it’s not what I agree with, but I’m proud of you,” Hecker says.

Hecker had no problem breaking the news to his future wife, Niru. Born in the U.S. of parents from India, she is a conservative who met Hecker when she was attending Bryn Mawr and debated him.

In 2005, Hecker graduated cum laude from Harvard and was hired by Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. After two years, he left the law firm to join the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani as an opposition researcher.

When the campaign was over, Hecker joined the law firm of Vinson and Elkins in Houston, where his wife had begun a residency in neurosurgery.

Last Feb. 27, Hecker was on his way to lunch and ran into a rally of conservatives. He joined them and helped organize a rally on April 15 by the Houston Tea Party Society, where he became an executive board member. Hecker later became a board member of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the leading tea party groups in the country.

In September 2009, Hecker launched the ContractfromAmerica.com Web site. The idea is to enlist candidates from both parties to subscribe to such goals as “Stop the Tax Hikes,” “Stop the Pork,” and “End Runaway Government Spending.”

“The Contract from America is based on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government,” Hecker says. “The goal is to really create a grass-roots feeling that we can make a difference, that individuals can make a difference, and that it’s time for the Republicans and the Democrats and politicians in general to listen to the people.

Continue reading on Newsmax…

WEEKLY STANDARD: Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

By Mary Katharine Ham

It was a good week for proclamations, with Washington conservative leaders, tea party activists, and the GOP all touting statements of principle as thousands of conservatives came to town for the annual CPAC conference. The GOP’s statement has yet to be released, but each group’s intentions have nonetheless been scrutinized and parsed by the media in what feels like a political version of the eHarmony compatibility test.

Will the tea partiers drag the GOP toward the unelectable fringe? Will the conservative movement tap into the antiestablishment energy of the tea partiers? Will the Republican party adopt the ideas of either? Can they all come together without sullying the grassroots authenticity of the tea party movement? Will they or won’t they form a third party? Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship, or is someone going to get used?

Sixteen miles from the Capitol, at the Mount Vernon home of President George Washington, a group of conservatism’s gray eminences gathered to sign the Mount Vernon Statement—a noncontroversial (to conservatives) manifesto to unite and recommit their movement to the “ideas of the American Founding” in the “critical political and policy battles ahead.”

As a George Washington impersonator presided over the signing of the oversized Declaration-style document, a couple of newcomers mingled with such Beltway fixtures as former attorney general Ed Meese and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler of tea party Patriots, a loosely organized national umbrella group, had come to town for the unveilings of both this document and a tea party document.

It wasn’t the only odd juxtaposition of outsiders with insiders this week. A handful of tea party leaders had an hours-long meeting with RNC chair Michael Steele at the Capitol Hill Club—a locale the media gleefully chortled was too elitist for the group. “The club is a place for Oysters Rockefeller and pictures of Eisenhower, not tricorn hats and Don’t-Tread-on-Me flags,” Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post (proving either he had never set foot in the decidedly non-swank building or assumed his readers wouldn’t know better).

But what the press often portrays as a prickly fight over the soul of the Republican party looked more like a first date, with both sides attempting to make a good impression. The tea partiers wanted to introduce themselves, and Republicans and conservative leaders were happy to meet them in light of their new electoral credibility after Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.

“The atmosphere was very positive,” said RNC communications director Doug Heye of the meeting, which he said was initiated by tea party activists and ran more than an hour beyond its hour-long slot on Steele’s schedule. Steele “made it very clear that he was going to answer every question. I think that really created a lot of good will with the people who were there in the room.”

When tea party activists held an unveiling for their own document— the Contract From America—at CPAC on Thursday, heavy hitters like former House majority leader Dick Armey and Senator Jim DeMint were there, but noticeably took a back seat to tea party activists, who referred to themselves as “leaderless” no fewer than five times.

Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer who devised the plan to create a tea party platform using thousands of ideas and online votes from activists, exemplified the unpolished, grassroots nature of the press conference when he fumbled the microphone while stalling for DeMint’s arrival. As the mike’s crash quieted, he smiled and said, “As you can tell I’m kind of a newbie at this stuff.”

Like Hecker, many of the tea party activists at CPAC for the first time this year acknowledged they are new at the game, but are also confident that’s their strength. Polling suggests they are right, with voters sour on Washington and both parties. As for the politicians, they made sure to show proper respect to the new activists. Every major speaker gave kudos to the tea party movement from the CPAC dais on Thursday.

House minority leader John Boehner was no exception. “The Republican party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” he said. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
Continue reading Mary Katharine Ham’s article at the Weekly Standard…

CBN: ‘New Guard’ Conservatives Pack CPAC Event

By David Brody

The Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., has a new feel this year, primarily because of the Tea Party movement spreading across the U.S.

The annual event, which kicked off Feb. 18, gives conservatives a chance to come together and discuss ideas on how to win future elections.

It didn’t take long for this year’s CPAC to get humming. Marco Rubio, an up-and-coming conservative prominent in the Tea Party movement, was the event’s first speaker.

Rubio is running for the Florida Senate, taking on the more moderate and popular Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Rubio was 30 points down in the polls, but has now pulled ahead. And despite Crist’s attempt to question Rubio’s conservative credentials, Tea Partiers see him as the genuine conservative real deal.

Rubio is part of the “new guard” at CPAC — younger, grassroots-type conservatives trying to make their mark on the Republican party. The “old guard” is still around, but the players are changing.

“Rock stars” at the conservative concert are people like South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, who’s been extremely influential. His Senate Conservatives Fund is contributing money to conservative Republican candidates across the country who are taking on moderate Republican challengers.

Continue reading on the Christian Broadcast Network…

GINGRICH: Contract From America – Why CPAC Matters Now More Than Ever

Tomorrow, for the 37th time, conservatives will gather in Washington to discuss, debate, and forge new solutions at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

For those who may be tempted to despair about the state of the limited government, pro-market and pro-family movement, a little history is in order.

In 1975, then-Governor Ronald Reagan inspired a dispirited conservative movement to revolution at CPAC. In a message that resonates to this day, President Reagan proclaimed, “Our people look for a cause to believe in,” and then asked: “Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors, which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”

President Reagan’s first speech to CPAC was in its inaugural year in 1973. According to CPAC organizer David Keene, that year, 125 Americans came to CPAC to hear Reagan speak. This year, attendance is expected to top 10,000.

Excitement about the Return to the Bold Colors of Conservative Leadership

There is a palpable sense of excitement about the prospects for a return to the bold colors of conservative leadership in America today.

This excitement isn’t just due to the vulnerability of the left, although it is vulnerable.

And it’s not just because of the American people’s disavowal of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi liberal agenda, although Americans have repudiated it.

It’s because of the strength of the solutions being generated by a concerned American public, solutions that are being taken up and championed by conservatives.

The Contract From America

This Thursday at CPAC, the Tea Party Patriots will unveil a grassroots-generated, crowd-sourced, bottom-up call for real economic, conservative and government reform.

It’s called the Contract From America. It’s not the handiwork of me or any public official. It is the genuine voice of the American people. Unlike the current political dynamic, in which the will of Washington is forced on America, this is the voice of America coming to Washington.

The idea of a grassroots-generated call for reform came from Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots.

Here’s how Ryan explains why he started the process of giving citizens the power to change Washington:

“We started this to give every American the opportunity to make a difference and to tell elected officials that it’s now time for them to listen to the people. We also see this as a way to help unite the Tea Party movement and transform it from a purely protest movement to one calling for proactive and positive reform.”

Continue reading Newt Gingrich’s article on Human Events…

DAILY CALLER: Tea Party leaders ask voters to help draft ‘Contract from America’

It reeks of 1994, but in addition to budget balancing and term limits amendments, there’s a plank for preventing the government from regulating the Internet.

The Daily Caller obtained the list of 20 potential items for “Contract from America,” a Newt Gingrich-style document to be developed by Tea Party activists of 10 Tea Party priorities.

The items range from prohibiting the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine to calling for a complete audit of federal agencies and programs.

Tea Party Patriots, the group organizing the effort, will hold a press conference on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the CPAC conference to announce the launch of contract.thelibertylab.com, where activists can help “draft” the finalized contract by voting for their top 10 of those issues. After releasing a final “Contract from America” on April 15, activists will ask members of Congress to sign the final document.

Ryan Hecker, a national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots and a member of the Houston Tea Party Society who developed the contract idea, said it “is a grassroots, bottom-up document.”

“It’s going to be a very democratic process,” Hecker said.

Continue reading at the Daily Caller…

ABC NEWS: Tea Party Activists Craft ‘Contract from America’

By Teddy Davis

Republicans on Capitol Hill are developing an election-year alternative to the Obama administration’s agenda. But a Tea Party activist in Texas says the politicians in Washington – including the out-of-power Republicans – don’t have the “credibility” to offer a contract.

The first Tea Party convention kicks off with a tone of anger and confrontation.

His solution? Use the Internet, develop a “Contract from America,” and make the politicians come to him.

“You are going to be held accountable by us,” said conservative activist Ryan Hecker, offering a preview of what Tea Party activists are going to tell congressional candidates later this year. “We have a plan – a proactive reform plan – for you to follow and not the other way around.”

Technically, Hecker doesn’t have a reform plan yet. He does, however, have one in the works.

He says he came up with the contract idea shortly after Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008. Hecker, a 29-year old lawyer from Houston, spent the 2008 GOP primaries working as an opposition researcher for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.

To get his idea off the ground, he launched a website, “ContractFromAmerica.com,” which encourages activists to offer possible planks for the contract.

From the original 1,000 ideas which were submitted, Hecker whittled it down to about 50 based on popularity. He is currently in the process of narrowing it to 20 ideas. He is being aided in this process by former House Republican Leader Dick Armey, whose conservative group, FreedomWorks, has established close ties with many Tea Party activists around the country.

When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), convenes later this month in Washington, DC, Hecker says he will launch an on-line voting phase which will take his document from 20 ideas to the final 10 to 12 most popular.

The completed “Contract from America” will then be presented to the public on Tax Day, April 15, 2010.

Hecker wants to give all congressional candidates – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – an opportunity to sign onto his “contract.”

Continue reading this article at ABC NEWS…