Conservatives Gather in Washington, DC
2005 Conservative Political Action Conference, February 17-19, 2005
Feb. 18, 2005--Dr. Richard Mason of Miami, FL is the founder of, a 527 political organization.  Mason describes himself as "basically a total political novice."  Outside of voting and making some contributions to the RNC and others he has had little political involvement since college, when he worked on a Senate campaign. 

There are a lot of Cuban Americans at the hospital where he works.  At the end of the 2004 campaign there was no obvious heir apparent to Bush.  The notion of Condoleezza Rice generated a very postive response, according to Mason.  He came up with the notion Viva Condi and thought it might end up being the Miami branch of a Rice 2008 organization.  Doing some research he found there was already a Rice 2008 website, but it seemed static and commercial.  Mason determined to do a better one.  The site, (later changed to along with the change to 527 status), went live on the Internet on Nov. 14, 2004, which turned out to be Rice's birthday. 

An appearance on Hannity and Colmes on Dec. 9 "kind of put us on the map," said Mason.  Since then, he said, the endeavor has become "almost a second full time job."  On Feb. 9, 2005 reported, "We are on the ground in New Hampshire" in the person of acting state chairperson Shari Demers.  AmericansforRice also put resources into the key early state of Iowa, making a buy of somewhat less than $2,000 to run about fifty 15-second radio spots on WHO in Des Moines over a period of a week starting on Feb. 18.  The CPAC conference provided a further boost as Mason and North Dakotan Crystal Dueker distributed hundreds of buttons and bumperstickers and garnered free media exposure.
Crystal Dueker of Fargo, ND thought about setting up a group to advocate for Rice in 2008 but found Mason's effort; rather than "reinventing the wheel" she hooked up with him.  Of Rice she stated, "I like the color of her politics not the color of her skin."  Dueker backed Elizabeth Dole's presidential primary campaign in 1999.

Copyright © 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.