Greg Hardcastle’s CRA Legacy
By CRA Vice President Bill Cardoza
In 1986, Greg became active in the Pat Robertson for president campaign here in Sacramento.
At the same time, Republicans of River City – the local chapter of the California Republican Assembly (CRA) here in Sacramento held the distinction of being the largest unit in the state. Theda Oates was invited to join their organization and Theda in turn asked Barbara Alby, Greg Hardcastle, and me to join her. Later, we all met with my boss, then conservative icon -- Senator H.L. Richardson! We collectively decided to join Republicans of River City to attempt to influence a CRA endorsement for Pat Robertson! Some unit members became raucous at the meetings, and at times the Sacramento City Police were called to restore order to the discordant crowd! The annual charter elections meeting, where unit officers are elected and delegates chosen for the annual state CRA convention, was held at the downtown Veterans Hall. The state CRA officials were so concerned over this election meeting that they sent the state CRA sergeant at arms to monitor the unit elections and report back to the state board. The sergeant at arms then was former CRA president Steve Frank. At one point, after a chaotic voting period, the current unit officers decided to halt the voting and adjourn the meeting.
Greg, Theda, Barbara and several hundred friends, including many who were not allowed to vote, left the Veterans Hall and congregated across the street in the parking lot and proceeded to elect new unit officers, then delegates to the upcoming state CRA convention and board meeting.
At the next annual state CRA convention and board meeting in Southern California, there were two separate slates of officers and delegates present to represent the Republicans of River City CRA chapter from Sacramento – both factions were vying for the official state board recognition to be seated as delegates. The board, after hearing a report from their state sergeant at arms Steve Frank, appointed a committee to meet with the opposing factions and review the election meeting at the Veterans Hall downtown Sacramento. The committee met until the wee hours of the morning, concluding with the current officers of the Republicans of River City refusing to transfer power to the new Greg Hardcastle-led group and chose instead to dissolve their charter! The largest CRA unit in California dissolved its charter!
This is how the Sacramento Republican Assembly (SRA) was born – out of the ashes of the dissolved Republicans of River City unit! River City unit members, and other units sympathetic with it, decided to leave CRA and form a new, separate state GOP organization called California Congress of Republicans. SRA then was formed with a membership already over 800 in Sacramento, becoming the state’s newest and largest CRA chapter at the same time!
Greg Hardcastle became the Founding President of SRA and was elected to an unprecedented 6 terms as president. SRA, because of its size, soon dominated the state CRA board of directors, at one time fielding 5 state-wide officers! In the early days of SRA, two of its Founding Members would be elected and serve their full 6-year terms in the California State Assembly – the first being the Honorable David Knowles and the second being the Honorable Barbara Alby.
Under Greg’s leadership, SRA hosted one of the most successful state CRA conventions in decades – featuring Dr. Pat Robertson, then Missouri Governor John Ashcroft (who later becomes U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush), businessman Carl Karcher from Carl’s Jr. fame, and Colonel Oliver North who honored the first 2 POWs captured and released during the Persian Gulf War from Camp Pendleton.
During this period, CRA’s influence in the state GOP grew and candidates seeking state GOP offices, including chair and vice chair, would travel first to SRA to seek favor, then pursue the state CRA endorsement, and would go on to win their state GOP contests!
Greg later would be elected CRA president, then was elected to three different positions on the California Republican Party’s board of directors. Greg was also elected to the state GOP platform committee which selected a “platform drafting” committee that Greg chaired. That platform, drafted by Greg more than two decades ago, is largely intact today -- a remarkable legacy!
Greg would become the founder of the Republican Victory Fund (RVF) in Sacramento that made contributions to numerous CRA-endorsed candidates for the legislature and was the largest donor to Tom McClintock’s campaign for Governor before the Native American Tribes entered the fray on Tom’s behalf. Eventually, the RVF provided the funding for the establishment of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) which is in its 22nd year – following the organizational meeting in Las Vegas by the California Republican Assembly (CRA) and the Arizona Republican Assembly (ARA), along with 10 other states. The CRA was formed in 1932 then incorporated in 1934 as a grass root group of "Young Turks" to take back the GOP from special interests and the elite in California. The NFRA was taking CRA to the national level which Greg wholeheartedly supported.
Greg was a visionary and an important leader in the California GOP and conservative movement.
I also wanted to say "thank you" to several California Republican Assembly (CRA) leaders who came to say goodbye to past Sacramento Republican Assembly (SRA) and California Republican Assembly President Greg Hardcastle at a "Going-Home" celebration of Life in Sacramento, including, from left, former SRA president Angela Marie Azevedo, former CRA vice president John Stoos, former SRA president and CRA vice president Russell Gray, current SRA president and CRA Corresponding Secretary Jorge Riley, current CRA president Tom Hudson, former CRA presidents Celeste Greig, Steve Frank, and Michael Carrington, and former SRA president Sue Blake!