A political/business consultant from Waxhaw is organizing a Charlotte festival for conservatives that he hopes will provide “an alternative voice” the week thousands of Democrats are in town for their national convention.
Jason Lambert said “Rock the Red 2012” – planned for Sept. 5 in 11,000-seat Bojangles’ Coliseum – will feature as-yet-unnamed national conservative speakers as well as country and rock music acts. Over the past year, Lambert has had a hand in bringing then-GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Union County.
The event, which Lambert said is sponsored by a Super PAC, will raise money for TV ads calling for the election of conservatives around the country and the defeat of President Barack Obama, who’s set to give his acceptance speech Sept. 6 at Bank of America Stadium.
Six “Rock the Red” billboards, some of them digital, have recently popped up along interstates around Charlotte and York County, S.C. The mostly red one on I-485 East near Pineville spells out “2012” in the familiar Obama campaign logo. A graffiti-like line is drawn through the “0.”
A website – www.rockthered.com – also features anti-Obama messages, though Lambert says his group has no ties to either the Republican Party or the campaign of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
“It’s just a conservative festival uniting … voters of all backgrounds,” said Lambert, who added that the accent at the event will also be on registering voters and urging big turnouts on Election Day.
Lambert, who has lived in the Charlotte area since 2007, heads a consulting company called Right Strategies.
The Charlotte-based Democratic National Convention Committee declined to comment on “Rock the Red 2012.”
Political conventions traditionally attract the competing party, which usually holds daily news conferences responding to what’s being said at the convention. In 2004, for example, the GOP flew then-Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory to Boston to lambaste the Democrats meeting there – including vice presidential nominee John Edwards of North Carolina. The national GOP has said it will have a similar presence in Charlotte during Democratic convention week.
In 2004, supporters of Republican Ron Paul had a small shadow convention prior to the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., that nominated Sen. John McCain for president.
But a full-fledged alternative event like “Rock the Red 2012,” rallying voters from a competing party, appears to be unusual.
Gideon Moore, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party, called the Rock the Red group “a completely separate group that will be doing (its) thing … We’re unrelated.”
Still, he welcomed the event, saying it could boost the morale of local conservatives at a time when the city will be overrun with Democrats and their pro-Obama messages.
“It’s good to have something that will be encouraging to conservative voters during a week when they might otherwise be discouraged by what is going on at the DNC,” he said. “We are historically a red state and a lot of folks expect us to go back that way – despite what will be happening uptown (with the Democrats).”
Robert Reid, the N.C. spokesman for the Romney campaign, said he was not familiar with “Rock the Red 2012.” But, he added, “there are people out there working independently to elect conservatives, and we endorse that.”
Lambert’s group filed organizational papers with the Federal Election Commission this month, calling itself the Rock the Red Political Action Committee and noting that it’s based in Charlotte.
Under the law, Super PACs cannot cooperate with political campaigns, though many are run by close friends or former staffers of the candidate benefitting from their ads.
Though Lambert acknowledged that his group wants to help make Obama a one-term president, he didn’t exactly offer an enthusiastic endorsement of Romney, who has had past problems wooing conservative voters.
“We need to rally behind the Republican nominee, who will be announced in Tampa,” he said. “It looks like it will be Mitt Romney.”
Lambert was vague about details, saying, for example, that it was premature to name the speakers and musical acts he expects to present.
All are nationally known, he said, including some “political rock stars.”
Tickets, Lambert said, will be “moderately priced,” but he couldn’t give an exact amount.
He also said that other partners for the event – including some “folks out of D.C.” – will also be announced later.