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Board Prep: 3 Days, 400 Conservative Leaders

By Byron Shehee

RICHMOND VA - Anyone hoping to affect policy anywhere in Virginia (outside of Northern Virginia and big cities) knows they must be one of 400 leaders at the (39th) Annual Donald W. Huffman Advance. Saturday concluded three days of intense policy discussions.

TBOR Action President John Pudner left Wisconsin in the capable hands of TBOR Action Grassroots Director Erin Yager for a few days to join me (National Field Director Byron Shehee) and hundreds of his past colleagues, friends, and conservative leaders at an Advance John first attended when a high school student a mile away.

After several hours of watching serious discussions start with hugs and back slaps, I told John, “This really is a family reunion for you, isn’t it?” Senator Tom Cotton resumed a conversation with Pudner they started in Wyoming (top right photo). Attorney General Jason Miyares (middle photo) a conversation from the nearby Tobacco Company Restaurant. Speaker Todd Gilbert (center right) knew Pudner as former Speaker Bill Howell's previous legislative aide when Gilbert was newly elected. Gov. Glenn Youngkin was there for two of three days.

One of the two longest-term friends was John’s early political mentor, director of the Reagan youth effort when Pudner was in high school in 1980, and Founder of the Leadership Institute Morton Blackwell (bottom lower right). The second was Kathy Hayden (upper left photo).

John told me he recently told Erin she was the best field person with whom he had ever worked, but then laughed and said, “No wait, almost forgot Kathy Hayden!” After Kathy and John split up responsibilities in most of Virginia for several campaigns, Kathy became National Committeewoman as well as a Board Member for TBOR Action’s former sister organization until she left to work for Congressman Ben Cline.

Another conversation was with a great award winner, General Assembly Member A.C. Cordoza (bottom lower right with the great Virginia Chair Rich Anderson).

While trying to recap all of the policy discussions and conclusions would make for a very long email and blog, the Annual Advance is once again a springboard for many policy discussions to be considered at the annual Take Back Our Republic Action Board Meeting, which will be held at the TBOR Action Eastern office 169 miles to the south of here on May 18 at 5 W. Hargett St in Raleigh, NC.

If you have input on issues you would like to see prioritized, maintained, avoided, or added within TBOR Action’s mission, please feel free to email,, or myself at

Byron Shehee

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