When the Republican National Convention kicks off in Milwaukee next month, conservative leader Morton Blackwell once again will be in the middle of the action. This year’s convention will mark Blackwell’s 16th consecutive appearance, dating to 1964.

Upon the convention’s closing gavel, it also will be the beginning of his 10th term as Republican national committeeman representing Virginia.

Blackwell’s tenure puts him just behind Delegate Amata Radewagen, who was elected as American Samoa’s national committeewoman in 1988. She also represents American Samoa as a nonvoting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the defeat in April of Massachusetts’ Ron Kaufman, Blackwell is poised to be move up in tenure among the 168 members of the Republican National Committee. (Each state and territory—56 in all—elects one committeeman and one committeewoman; each also has a party chairman).

When Virginia Republicans gathered for their party convention May 31 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, Blackwell defeated Tim Anderson and Patti Lyman defeated Jean Gannon. Lyman will begin serving her second four-year term at the conclusion of the GOP convention in Milwaukee.

“I appreciate the honor of being elected to a tenth consecutive term as Virginia’s Republican national committeeman,” Blackwell told The Daily Signal. “The office is pretty much what one makes of it, because it comes with no special powers and few defined duties.”

“My focus is on improving Republican political training programs and making sure that ‘the rules of the Republican Party’ continue to permit some power in the party to flow from the bottom up and not just from the top down,” he said. “And I always fight for conservative principles.”

Blackwell is known in the conservative movement for founding the Leadership Institute in 1979. For 45 years, it has trained more than 250,000 individuals on campaign tactics, fundraising, grassroots activism, and communicating effectively. The institute also has a network of 2,300 campus groups and conservative newspapers to reach the next generation of Americans.

Starting with Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964—when Blackwell was the candidate’s youngest delegate to the San Diego convention—he has made a point of taking an active role in Republican politics.

He served as an alternate delegate for Ronald Reagan in 1968 and 1976, and was a Reagan delegate in 1980 when he secured the GOP nomination for president. Blackwell led Reagan’s youth effort for the 1980 campaign, then worked as a special assistant on the White House staff during Reagan’s first term.

Blackwell’s conservative principles have made him a favorite among movement activists, particularly at times when the Republican National Committee didn’t reflect the sentiments of the grassroots.

“As an oasis of conservatism in the RNC desert of establishmentarianism over the last 40 years, Morton Blackwell has been a steady and dependable defender of conservative principles,” said Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s former attorney general. “Virginia is proud to return the longest-serving dedicated conservative, probably in the entire history of the Republican National Committee, for another four years!”

Former President Donald Trump was among the high-profile endorsements Blackwell received in advance of his reelection. Virginia’s trio of statewide elected officials—Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares—also backed his bid along with several other political leaders.

Following his victory, Blackwell credited two GOP power players in Arlington County: Republican Committee Chairman Matthew Hurtt and former Chairman Andrew Loposser.

“As someone who has traveled with Morton to nearly every RNC meeting since 2013, I understand what an asset he is to grassroots conservatives on the RNC,” Hurtt told The Daily Signal. “His knowledge of rules and process and his commitment to empowering conservative activists within the GOP is unmatched. Virginia Republicans—and conservatives nationwide—are lucky to have such a well-respected and staunch advocate in their corner.”

In 2020, The Heritage Foundation honored Blackwell with its Titan of Conservatism Award, noting his dedication to training conservatives over the span of 50 years.

Rich Anderson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, told The Daily Signal that he personally benefited from Blackwell’s training during his own public service in the Virginia General Assembly.

“Morton Blackwell has a long and storied history of training conservatives who are called to public service,” Anderson said. “Morton has an equally impressive period of lengthy service as a member of the Republican National Committee, and I am pleased that he and I will continue to partner as members of the governing body of our national party.”

Anderson and Blackwell will be together in Milwaukee next month to officially nominate Trump as the 47th president of the United States.