David Keene stepped down as Chairman of the American Conservative Union on Wednesday after holding the post since 1984. News of Keene's departure comes on the eve of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference, which the group holds each year.
Businessman and attorney Al Cardenas will was elected to succeed Keene, according to a statement issued by the conservative group.
Here's full text of the release:
ALEXANDRIA, VA - Businessman and attorney Al Cardenas was elected Chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU) Wednesday in Washington, DC, succeeding David Keene, who had held the post since in 1984. Founded in 1964, the ACU is the oldest membership-based conservative organization in the United States.
Cardenas, elected without opposition, said he is honored at the chance to lead the ACU, and expressed his commitment to using his post to help motivate and mobilize the American conservative movement.
"The American Conservative Union has a long and proud tradition of espousing and promoting the conservative goals of limited government and fiscal responsibility, and it's my honor to do all I can to help further these worthy objectives," Cardenas said. "I look forward to taking advantage of the new energies we see today in the conservative movement to make this storied organization even more influential in the future."
"Al is a perfect leader for the ACU - he grew up as a movement conservative, knows how to work with all the various component interests within the conservative coalition, and is highly respected by those who know him," said David Keene, the ACU's outgoing president. "Given his character, qualifications, and record of leadership, I am confident that the ACU will continue to prosper and grow under his watch."
Cardenas also said the conservative movement will gain broader acceptance if it can successfully make Americans see the value of self-reliance and personal responsibility.
"In this, the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth, the best way to honor him and his memory is to promote our conservative principals with the same vigor and relentless optimism that he used to successfully expand the conservative base," Cardenas said. "In addition to our commitment to fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense, it is imperative the ACU continue to champion the traditional values upheld by our Founding Fathers - values that were so important to President Reagan."
Al Cardenas has been a supporter and advocate of conservative causes for nearly 40 years. In 1975, at the age of 25, Cardenas was named co-chairman of Ronald Reagan's campaign in Florida, and he held the same post during Reagan's primary and general election campaigns in Florida in 1980. In between, he challenged liberal icon Claude Pepper in a race for Congress in 1978, a contest in which Cardenas ran on a pro-life, anti-ERA, limited government platform; Reagan campaigned twice for him in that election.
After Reagan was elected president in 1980, Cardenas headed the Commerce Department transition team and assisted President Reagan in a variety of other capacities, including serving as Special Ambassador to St. Nevis-Kitts after that nation gained its independence in 1983. His previous work for the ACU has included serving on the ACU's Board of Directors and as its treasurer.
Al Cardenas was born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, and emigrated to the United States in 1960, when his parents fled Fidel Castro's regime. He grew up in South Florida, and turned down the opportunity to play football at Holy Cross University in order to attend community college and work part-time to help support his parents. He eventually matriculated at Florida Atlantic University, where he earned a B.A. in 1969. He earned a law degree from Seton Hall University in 1974. A successful businessman and attorney, Cardenas is the founder of Tew Cardenas, a full-service law firm with offices in Miami and Washington. He is also a director at Coral Gables Trust, a wealth management company. He and his wife of 32 years, Diana, have five children and four grandchildren.
The American Conservative Union is recognized for ranking politicians according to voting records on significant conservative issues but is best known for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).