Tag Archives: Republican National Convention

Ev Boyle: Reporting From 2 Conventions

If you’re like me, you spent the past couple of weeks processing everything you saw and heard during the Republican and Democratic conventions.

If you’re like Ev Boyle, you did that too — but with a special perspective. The 2001 Staples High School graduate was on the scene — including the floor — in both Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Ev’s official title is associate director, University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He organizes programs and events in government, journalism and technology.

Ev Boyle (left) never knew who -- or what -- he'd see next. This was outside the Republican National Convention.

Ev Boyle (left) never knew who — or what — he’d see next. This was outside the Republican National Convention.

But he’s also a political junkie. So working with Annenberg professors like David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson, Nixon’s son-in-law) and Geoffrey Cowan (former director of the Voice of America, author of a recent book on presidential primaries) is a dream come true.

Ev brought 6 student-journalists to the 2 conventions. “We pushed our students to go in with open minds and hearts. We wanted them to talk to as many people as they could.” They — and Ev — did exactly that.

They reveled in breakfasts with delegates, the controlled chaos of floor sessions, and random sidewalk meetings with everyone from Katie Couric and Samantha Bee to Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson and UK Brexit leader Nigel Farage (who knew either of them were at the conventions?).

Ev realized that being on the floor was interesting and special — but it was also cramped, hot, and hard to know what was happening. “You could see and hear a lot better on TV,” he notes.

Marjorie Margolies — a former Pennsylvania congresswoman, and Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law — helped arrange a meeting with former presidential candidate John Kasich. The Ohio governor famously stayed away from the convention in his home state — but he met the Annenberg group for a long, insightful conversation.

Ev Boyle (3rd from right) and David Eisenhower (next to Ev) heard political insights directly from Governor (and former presidential candidate) John Kasich (4th from left).

Ev Boyle (3rd from right) and David Eisenhower (next to Ev) heard political insights directly from Governor (and former presidential candidate) John Kasich (4th from left).

Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions — chair of the House Rules Committee — was especially “kind and accommodating” to the group, Ev says.

Delegate breakfasts were particularly intriguing. At California’s — on the 1st day of the Democratic convention — Ev and his students heard the thunderous boos from Bernie Sanders supporters that greeted Nancy Pelosi and others. That incident did not get a lot of press, but it presaged the California delegation’s actions through the rest of the week.

Ev and his group learned something everywhere they went. In Cleveland, 100 congressional pages — ages 15 to 24, from all 50 states — gathered. When asked how many had supported Donald Trump from the beginning, no hands were raised.

Two other questions: How many were Trump supporters now? How many were “Never Trump”? Ev says they were split 50-50.

Republican and Deomocratic symbolsEv helped his young student journalists seek out interesting stories. They interviewed hotel workers, female Trump supporters, a delegate who at 17 years old was younger than they, and Democratic officials who switched parties to vote for Trump.

The 2 conventions provided “an eye-opener into the process of politics,” Ev says.

And stories he can tell through the 2020 election.

Bob Zappi Packs For Tampa

Several years ago, under Democratic first selectman Dianne Farrell, property revaluations were postponed due to a 6-year backlog in assessments. Republican Town Committee chairman Pete Wolgast urged party members to get involved in local politics.

Bob Zappi heeded the call.

The long-time Westporter — a Cub Scout pack leader, basketball and baseball coach, church leader and Mercy Learning Center board member — stepped up. He quickly rose through the RTC ranks, to chairman. He stepped down several months ago, to work at the party’s state and federal levels.

Later this month, Bob heads to Tampa. Duty calls: He’ll join the Connecticut delegation, as a guest at the Republican National Convention.

Bob’s had a long career in marketing. He moved to Westport 24 years ago, to join MCA. He later joined Ryan Partnership. A few years ago he formed his own consulting firm, Catalyst. Nowadays he consults for Fortune 500 firms. A year ago he started a political fundraising company, PierceZappi. Among its clients: US Senate candidate Chris Shays, and the state Republican party.

Bob looks forward to his 1st convention. He anticipates “a gargantuan room filled with like-minded people.” He is eager to hear their takes on important issues.

He got a taste of national politics this winter, at the Republican National Committee meeting in New Orleans. Party leaders from around the country shared “war stories” — everything from the nuts and bolts of getting out the vote, to behind-the-scenes action in Senate races.

Bob is eager too to get to know the 100 or so Connecticut delegates and guests. The 4-day event will be filled with events, meetings and social opportunities.

Bob Zappi (right) and Mitt Romney.

The chance to meet presumptive nominee Mitt Romney is low. Bob has spent time with him before, in small groups, and is impressed with the former Massachusetts governor’s “ability to drive forward to positive solutions.”

So if Bob could meet any Republican bigwig in Tampa, who would it be?

He names two. There’s Florida Senator Marco Rubio — “smart, articulate, with a great family background.”

And South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

“I spent 5 years as chairman making the Republican Town Committee younger and more female,” Bob says. “Now, our chairman and two vice chairs are women.

“The Republican Party is trying to appeal to a broader demographic, nationally. I think we’ve already won seats in Westport because of that.”