by Sam Reed, Secretary of State 2001-2013

Nationally, the Democrats imploded in Chicago at their national convention as young, anti-Vietnam War activists stormed the streets in protest of President Lyndon Johnson and his political allies. A After losing one of the largest landslides in American history in 1964, the Republican regrouped successfully.1968 was an historic political year.

In Washington state, young, mainstream Republican Governor Dan Evans faced stiff opposition for re-election from a popular Attorney General.

Chris Bayley and I hatched an audacious plan to organize a huge, statewide organization of young people to support Evans re-election, Secretary of State Lud Kramer’s re-election, and State Representative Slade Gorton’s run for Attorney General. We also recruited a dynamic, articulate African American on the Pasco City Council, Art Fletcher, to run for Lieutenant Governor. We called our organization Action for Washington and our candidates the Action Team and succeeded in recruiting and effectively organizing 2000 young people.

After remarkable success that year, we decided to keep these young activists connected by putting out a call for a conference (now referred to as Cascade Conference I) in the summer of 1969. The invitation explained, The purpose of the conference will be to share ideas, establish rapport, and to simply get acquainted. We held it at Argus publisher Phil Bailey’s Chevy Chase Inn on Discovery Bay. It was attended by around forty, key young leaders from around the state and was a big success,and, we had fun.

In 1971, we held a second conference at Chevy Chase Inn. Again, around forty young, moderate Republican leaders gathered, commiserated, conspired and drank. We had fun.

Cascade Conference III was one of the biggest and best. It was held at the former Snoqualmie Summit Lodge on May 26-28, 1973. Around 140 people attended from throughout the state and were inspired, stimulated, challenged and entertained by Lud Kramer, Chris Bayley, Stuart Elway, Jim Waldo, Bruce Chapman, Ralph Munro, John Miller, and several others.  At those early conferences, we had some hilarious skits. At this one in the middle of the Watergate fiasco, we had a skit entitled, “Something Funny Happened While CREEPing to the Aqueduct”. It was described in the program as An ancient Roman tragi-comedy (originally produced as a farce) starring Stuart Elway as Flavius Zeiglerus the emperor’s chief apologist and the play’s narrator (with some operative narration and some inoperative narration) and featuring Glen Hudson as Julius Milhous, Don MacKinnon as Brutus Mitchellus, Shirley McCoy [Matt’s mother] as Portia Michellus, Tim Clancy as Trebonius Ehrlichmanus, Ralph Munro as Cassius Haldemanus, and St. Rep. Mike Ross as Claudius McCordus (a subtle, small-armed wire man).

We had a great time in those early conferences. They served as the perfect opportunity for us to stay connected, to learn more about topical policy issues, to learn new campaign tactics and to have fun.

Forty-six years ago, I certainly didn’t foresee the Cascade Conferences continuing in the 21st century as valuable vehicles to share ideas, establish rapport, and to simply get acquainted. We continue to learn, to laugh, to re-connect, to establish political alliances and to have fun even without Julius Milhous (aka Richard Milhous Nixon) to kick around anymore.