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David Keene assumes Charlton Heston's old National Rifle Association post and Cuban-born Al Cardenas takes over Keene's top spot at the American Conservative Union.


NRA and ACU Get Two Valuable New Leaders

David Keene assumes Charlton Heston’s old National Rifle Association post and Cuban-born Al Cardenas takes over Keene’s top spot at the American Conservative Union.

Two faces that are quite familiar to conservatives nationwide will be moving to some key positions.  David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union since 1984, is leaving the helm of the nation’s oldest conservative membership organization.  Keene, who is also a vice president of the National Rifle Association, is expected to assume the presidency of the NRA once held by the late Charlton Heston.

Succeeding Keene at the ACU is Miami attorney-businessman and fellow conservative activist Al Cardenas, who has served on the ACU board of directors and as its treasurer.  The 62-year-old Cardenas, who was elected today by a vote of the ACU board, has been a familiar fixture in the conservative movement in Florida and nationwide since he was in his 20s.  In 1976, the 25-year-old Cardenas, barely two years out of Seton Hall University Law School, became co-chairman of Reagan’s presidential campaign in the Florida primary.  In 1978, with campaign assistance from Reagan, and a feature in HUMAN EVENTS’ Races of the Week section, Cardenas waged a strong-but-losing bid against legendary Rep. Claude Pepper in the Miami-area district Pepper had held since 1962.

Born in Cuba, Cardenas came to the U.S. at the age of 12, when his parents fled Fidel Castro’s tyrannical regime.  He later served as President Reagan’s special ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis when that nation became independent in 1983.

Dave Keene is also someone who has spent most of his adult life working for conservative causes and candidates.  As a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School in the early 1960s, Keene became national chairman of Young Americans for Freedom.  Defeated in a special election for the state legislature on the same day that Democrat Dave Obey won a formerly Republican House seat, Keene was a special assistant to former Sen. James L. Buckley (R.,C.-N.Y.) in the early 1970s and on Reagan’s presidential campaign staff.  He also worked in the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole.

Keene is also well-known from his frequent appearances on radio and TV talk shows and for his regular column for The Hill.

It is poignant that as the nation concludes its celebration of Ronald Reagan’s 100th year, the top positions at the NRA and the ACU will be assumed by two seasoned conservatives who were major players in Reagan’s almost-successful 1976 presidential bid that mobilized a generation of young activists. 

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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