Building a Farm Team of New Conservative Leadership

Deal W. Hudson
July 29, 2009

What is being done to reinvigorate the next generation of conservatives in politics? Many new initiatives have been announced, but one of the few that will make a difference in coming elections is American Majority. Founded in January 2008, this organization is aggressively recruiting and training a new generation of grassroots activists and future candidates throughout the nation.

Ned Ryun, founder, and president grew up in politics, being the son of former Congressman Jim Ryun (R-KS). Ned is experienced at working with young activists, having co-founded, with his brother Drew, the Generation Joshua program. But, as Ned told me recently, the number of local grassroots groups popping up everywhere makes this an ideal time to offer them leadership training. Over 3,000 people have already received training in 22 states.

Ryun explains, “Look what happened on April 15 – there were 900 tea parties with over 1.2 million participants, but they don’t know what to do next. We should educate them on how to go from protesting to implementing.”

Criss-crossing the country, going from one training session to another, Ryun has encountered a very high level of discontent: “People are angry across the board, at both Republicans and Democrats, about the expanding role of government.”

In fact, Ryun, a strong Evangelical, believes the biggest political battle is to get government back into its proper role. His central message to the activists and candidates he trains is the theme of limited government. “The only way we can win right now is to get government back within its proper boundaries – only then will it stop encroaching on businesses, families, and the Church.”

Ryun directs a staff of 22, including 16 field staff apportioned among six regional offices in Baton Rouge, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, St. Paul, Topeka, and San Antonio, in addition to the national headquarters in Northern Virginia. “We are going to the people who want the training, rather than making them come to us. That’s why we are constantly in the field building a farm team of conservative leadership.”

Candidate training consists of an eight-hour seminar covering everything a person needs to be equipped to run for office. Trainees learn the rudiments of campaign strategy and planning, fundraising, media communication, and how to employ new media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The results, so far, have been impressive. For example, Ryun urged 27 of his trainees to run for city council positions in Oklahoma, and 17 of them won. Only one had run for office before.

“The conservative movement has been too focused on federal elections, but the Left, and especially the unions, has always been active at the local level,” Ryun tells his trainees that 69 percent of the present House membership and 74 percent of the Senate started in politics by winning local or state elections. “If you want to get engaged and involved in politics that is how you should begin, at the local level.”

In his activist training, Ryun stresses the importance and power of “e-activism.” We teach activists how to make effective use of Wikis, Twitter, social networking, and Google.” An effective way to keep local officials accountable is to make contributions to Wikis like the Sunshine ReviewBallotpedia, and Judgepedia. Because of their amount of content and links, these Wikis have considerable “Google juice” and are listed high in Internet searches.

“It’s all about winning the information battle online, where the Left is dominating the minds of those who are 30 and under,” says Ryun.

With an average trainee age in the mid-forties, Ryun and his American Majority staff have their hands full in turning out a new generation of conservative leadership with tech-savvy wedded to a message of limited government. But American Majority is off to a good start, and being the son of a famous distance runner, Ned Ryun knows what it takes to run the race to the end.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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