The election of Audra Shay to chairwoman of the Young Republican National Federation in July shined a national spotlight on what is typically a quiet, biannual occurrence for an organization that purports to represent a key GOP constituency. What was widely perceived as Shay’s overt racism attracted unprecedented attention to the YRNF, provoking multitudinous questions about Shay’s suitability for the top job and the nature of the 10,000-member-strong organization.
“Audra Shay and The New Ice Age of the Young Republicans,” read one Huffington Post headline, shortly after the July convention in Indianapolis. “Recent events have made one wonder about the future of the Young Republicans on the national level,” led a story in the New Conservativist. “Young Republican Leader Audra Shay Is Crazy, Illiterate, Racist,” read Gawker.
After two months, it’s difficult to assess how well Shay, or the YRNF, is fighting back is because Shay has largely remained in the shadows, apparently conducting meetings and avoiding the heated issues that plagued her election. The fervor over the initial charges of racism have lessened, but have certainly not gone away entirely – a quick news search for “Audra Shay” in the past month brings up three hits, all relating to Audra’s alleged racism. None mention anything she has been doing in her new position.
Massive GOP town hall protests have flooded the news, but it’s not really clear what hand, if any, the YRNF has in these – or even how the group feels about them. The YRNF’s website has essentially gone untouched, its Twitter account is all but dormant, and if there have been any political efforts made by the group or its chairwoman, they have not been publicized. Critics say they were hoping for much more out of their new leader and their organization, and that much more is needed to restore the public image and integrity of the largest GOP youth organization in the country.
Brandon Davis, who Shay claims is her communications director, though he says his official title is YRNF communications committee chairman, says Shay is simply doing what she needs to do.
“She’s spending a lot of time trying to have conference calls, and put an organization in place, and delegate responsibilities,” said Davis. “There's a lot of infrastructure type things that needed to be done.”
Davis is seemingly nonplussed by the explosive nature of the Shay-racism fallout, calling it “blown out of proportion,” and the product of “two campaigns…fighting hard.”
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