|An explanation of the fiasco in the 97th House District starts with a couple of definitions. An “Establishment Republican” (GOPe) thinks the job of the Republican Party is to keep every elected Republican in office for as many terms as possible no matter how that Republican votes. A “Grassroots Republican” (Grassroots) thinks that if a Republican does not represent the opinions of the people s/he represents, then voters need to elect a different Republican to represent them. The GOPe are adamant about reelecting incumbents because that’s where the money is. Lots of money gets donated to the “reelection campaigns” of favored politicians who vote the way the donors want them to vote. And Virginia law doesn’t limit donations. So GOPe incumbents are not shy about using that money and influence to keep themselves elected.|
Democrats should not be smug about this. Some of the worst abusers in the General Assembly are Democrats. And don’t forget about Hilary Clinton’s “pay to play” fundraising for the Clinton Foundation or Joe Biden getting cozy with the Chinese government so that his son can make millions of dollars from a Chinese company. But I digress.
Chris Peace was first elected in 2006 as the delegate from Virginia’s 97th District, which includes New Kent County and parts of Hanover and King William counties. It is a reliably Republican district where in 2018 Cory Stewart got 65 percent of the vote to Tim Kaine’s 33 percent. Whoever wins the Republican nomination for Delegate will most likely win the general election in November.
On January 19, 2019, the 97th House Legislative District Committee (LDC) met and chose to select their nominee at a convention to be held on May 4. LDCs consist of representative from each Republican county committees in the district. Each county committee then held a Mass Meeting to elect delegates to the convention. New Kent held theirs on April 9, Hanover on April 11, and King William on April 18. After the delegates were certified, Chris Peace discovered that his opponent, Hanover County Supervisor Scott Wyatt, had more convention delegates signed up than Peace did. That meant Wyatt would in all likelihood be the Republican nominee. And this came about because Peace made a lot of his constituents angry with some of his votes in recent sessions. The grassroots want to replace him. The GOPe want to keep him in office. To do that the GOPe got one of the representatives to the LDC replaced. Then four days before the convention, after all the convention delegates had been certified, the new rep and one of the other reps voted to cancel the convention and go with a party caucus instead. There is no mechanism in the State Party Plan to do this, but the GOPe did it anyway. State Party Chairman Jack Wilson jumped in with no authority to do so and sent out emails declaring that the convention was cancelled. LDC Chairman Tom Miller countered with emails declaring that the convention was in fact going to be held – on May 4 – as scheduled.
Green County Republican Chairman Ed Yensho notes: “Roberts Rules is clear that you cannot rescind a motion ‘after something has been done as a result of that vote that the assembly cannot undo,’ and that clearly happened with the Convention, so the actions of the 97th LDC on May 1st are blatantly improper and can be appealed.”
Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) represents New Kent and King William Counties, which are part of his Senate District 3. While many people consider him a member of the GOPe, his published statement on May 3 completely supported the convention. He said
“I feel a genuine responsibility to stand up for [my constituents’] rights, which are currently under assault…. No challenge to the Call issued on January 19 was ever filed. No challenges to the Calls issued by the Republican Committees of Hanover, King William, and New Kent were ever filed. No appeal of the elections of the nearly 1700 delegates and alternates has ever been produced nor – to the best of knowledge – is one currently pending. As best I can determine from publicly available information, no appeal of this convention is currently pending before either the 1stCongressional District Republican Committee or the State Central Committee.
“These individuals have been duly elected. Cancelling the Convention after these individuals have been elected would be comparable to cancelling a general election at 6:00 p.m. on Election Day because of dissatisfaction with those who turned out to vote.”
The convention was held and Scott Wyatt won the weighted vote 244.56 to 7.9. Two days later, LDC Chairman Tom Miller filed the proper forms with the State Board of Elections (SBE) naming Scott Wyatt the duly selected nominee.
So now Chris Peace refuses to accept the results of the convention and rests his hopes on a party caucus scheduled for June 1. The GOPe members of the LDC have told the SBE not to accept Miller’s certification of Wyatt. The LDC plans to hold a special meeting on June 8 to depose Miller as chairman so they can put in their own chairman and send in a different statement as to who is the nominee. All certifications must be made to the SBE by June 17. And the GOPe leadership has scheduled the next State Central Committee meeting for June 22 at which time it is too late for the SCC to take any corrective action in this travesty of justice.
A number of the members of the SCC who normally would be considered GOPe are appalled at this underhanded and dirty political ploy. I believe they would vote to certify Scott Wyatt as the candidate in spite of the actions of the GOPe leadership. Perhaps that’s why the SCC meeting was scheduled when it is too late to correct these actions.
There are already calls for State Party Chairman Jack Wilson to resign. I like Jack, but he has disgraced himself and his party as he has disenfranchised hundreds of voters in the 97th district who believe in honesty and fair play, but who are increasingly doubtful that the current Republican leadership believe the same thing.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.
P.S. Wyatt’s best defense of his nomination is to get his supporters out in full force and win the party caucus as well. Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.