What is Mock Convention?
For more than a century, Washington and Lee University students have gathered at the beginning of each national election cycle and attempted to predict who the party out of power in the White House will nominate to run for President of the United States. Prior to the Convention a group of analysts, regional chairs, state chairs, and student delegates conduct thorough research using contacts in all fifty states, as well as the most accurate available polling data. A committee creates a party platform using the same methods and language as the major parties. Engaging speakers from throughout the country, including candidates, past and present office holders, journalists, and analysts, are invited to Lexington to share their experiences, as well as their thoughts on the future of politics. Events begin with Spring Kickoff, held a little less than a year prior to the gathering itself, where a major speaker energizes students for the challenge ahead. Excitement builds through the fall as student delegates are assigned, and a Presidential Gala captures the spirit of a high-power Washington gathering. Convention Weekend includes events engaging students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Lexington community, including a parade of student made floats down the city's historic Main Street. The effort culminates in the two convention sessions, run in accordance with party rules and procedures, where each delegation allocates its votes, and reveals the long-awaited prediction.
Mock Convention is student organized and executed. From roles on the Executive and Steering committees to the hundreds of delegate and volunteer positions, about ninety-five percent of students participate in some way during each cycle. Students are responsible for raising the vast majority of funds, coordinating events, inviting and hosting speakers, building interest in the university community and the general public, and conducting hands on political research. The opportunities available for leadership, for hands on organization and finance experience, for interaction with office holders and members of the media, and for developing a deeper understanding of the political process, are unparalleled at a collegiate level, as is Mock Convention's record of accuracy. Since 1948, the predicted candidate has only been incorrect twice. Honored on the floor of the United States Senate as an “outstanding practical experiment in politics," it continues to be among Washington and Lee's most cherished traditions.
Above all, Mock Convention hosts an exercise in political analysis and research. However, as a political organization run by full-time undergraduate students, we are also aware of our role as a leader for younger voices in the United States of America. Mock Convention aims to inspire and empower young Americans to actively invest and participate in the electoral process, and in politics in general.
The 2016 Executive Committee
The Executive Committee is Mock Convention's most senior leadership. The Executive Committee includes the Tri-Chairs -- the General Chair, the Financial Chair, and the Political Chair – as well as the Co-Directors of Communications, and the Director of Operations.
General Chair - Andrew McCaffery
Andrew McCaffery ‘16 is from Santa Barbara, California, where he graduated from Laguna Blanca School. At Washington and Lee University, he is pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry-Engineering. Andrew was drawn to Mock Convention because of its position as one of the most established organizations at Washington and Lee, and because of the unparalleled opportunity to gain experience managing people and contributing to the longstanding success of this tradition.
As General Chair, he is responsible for safeguarding the mission of Mock Convention, and for leading the Executive and Steering Committees. Andrew is the founder and president of the Men’s Volleyball Club, a member of Engineers Without Borders, and sings in Southern Comfort, Washington and Lee’s only all-male a cappella group.
Financial Chair - Tanner Waggoner
Tanner Waggoner '16 is from Scottsdale, Arizona, where he graduated from Chaparral High School. At Washington and Lee University, he is pursuing a B.S. in Accounting and Business Administration and Geology. Tanner was originally interested in Mock Convention because of the unique opportunity for students to have a practical education not only in politics, but also in areas such as management and financial operations.
As Financial Chair, he is responsible for directing Mock Convention's fundraising team, and for managing the accounting department and the official budget. Tanner is a Resident Advisor for first-year students in Graham-Lees Hall, a member of the Williams Investment Society, a Traveller Safe Ride Program employee, and a member of the Men's Club Baseball Team.
Political Chair - Katherine Hodges
Katherine Hodges ‘16 is from Durham, North Carolina, where she graduated from Durham Academy, as well as the School for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington, DC. At Washington and Lee University, she is pursuing a B.A. in Politics and Economics. Katherine initially learned about Mock Convention from her father, Will Hodges ’81, as he worked to sell her on his alma mater. As a member of the Class of 2016, she understood that she would have the unique opportunity to participate in Mock Convention and could not wait to get involved. She joined the Tri-Chairs with one goal in mind: get it right.
As Political Chair, she is in charge of the team of analysts, state chairs, delegates, and other volunteers that is responsible for the 2016 prediction. Her duties also include seeking out engaging and relevant speakers for Spring Kick-Off and Convention Weekend. Katherine is a member of SPEAK, a student organization that promotes dialogue among women about sexual assault.
Co-Directors of Communications - John Crum and Randy Karlson
John Crum ‘17 is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At Washington and Lee University, he is pursuing a B.A. in History and Journalism. John first learned about Mock Convention during his college search; the experience of organizing an event on this scale and interacting with journalists and others involved in the political process presented a unique opportunity to explore his interest in the press and public service.
Randy Karlson ‘16 is from Hudson, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Hudson High School. At Washington and Lee University, he is pursuing a B.A. in American Politics with a minor in Mass Communications. Mock Convention was a key reason Randy decided to attend Washington and Lee. He has always had a passion for the intersection of politics and communications, and serving on Mock Convention's communications team offered a chance to further that passion in an exciting and challenging setting.
As Co-Director of Communications John and Randy are responsible for managing both internal and external communications, including public relations, publications and productions, social media, and the recent redesign of mockconvention.com. They also act as the contact between Mock Convention and the public. John sings in the Men’s Glee Club, and hosts a show on WLUR 91.5FM. Randy is an offensive lineman on the Generals’ Varsity Football Team, and also works at the Leyburn Library Information Desk.
Director of Operations - Courtney McCauley
Courtney McCauley ‘17 is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she graduated from Conestoga High School. At Washington and Lee University, she is pursuing a B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Politics. Courtney learned of Mock Convention during her college search and the organization was a deciding factor in her decision to attend Washington and Lee. She was especially drawn to the opportunity to interest more students in the political process.
As Director of Operations, Courtney is responsible for coordinating and organizing Spring Kickoff, Convention Weekend, and all other official events. Courtney is a member of the Young Republicans club and works for The Big Money Show, a radio show about money, the economy, and investing strategies, hosted by Steve Cordasco.