After another stalemate between pro-primary and pro-convention factions of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) State Central Committee (SCC), Chairman Rich Anderson said he will move forward with plans for a convention.
“The majority of the SCC voted today for a third time to conduct an assembled in-person Republican State Convention. Our hope is to get SCC buy-in in a later meeting on proposals to transform it to an unassembled state convention, like we did last summer,” Anderson told The Virginia Star.
An SCC vote to hold a primary was defeated by the majority, and instead of voting again on amending the party plan to allow for an unassembled convention, the meeting moved into a private executive session. Eventually, the SCC restarted its Facebook live video, where Anderson said he would pursue convention plans and said another SCC meeting would be held soon. The SCC then adjourned at around 5:30 p.m. after beginning at 10 a.m.
Given the resistance to amending the party plan to allow the convention to be unassembled, the SCC must now determine how to legally hold an in-person convention without violating COVID-19 laws. Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 72 limits group capacity to ten. Conventions normally attract thousands of delegates to one large conference center. In the meeting, SCC members worried that it would be difficult to staff an unassembled convention without having more than ten people in one place. Some members expressed hope that Northam would not renew Executive Order 72, which expires on January 31.
SCC Member Willie Deutsch told The Star that the RPV was pushing forward with plans for both an in-person convention and an unassembled convention.
When the SCC moved to the private executive session, pro-primary political consultant Mike Wade told The Star that uncertainty was harming the Virginia GOP and its candidates’ chances in the 2021 election. He said COVID-19 isn’t going away, and neither are Northam’s executive orders.
“How does this help us win the governor’s mansion when you’re a member of the [SCC] and you are there for the primary purpose to elect Republicans to office? That’s what’s happened is they’re not doing their job. They’re not giving our nominee a chance to work,” Wade said.
Normally, Wade said, a candidate for governor would use this time to start campaigning against big Democratic opponents like former Governor Terry McAuliffe, but the uncertainty over the nomination process is taking focus away from the race.
“They’re killing the party, that’s what’s happening. If you want to know the sense of it, I don’t know how we win in November at this pace,” Wade said. “They’re going to be stuck with the same jersey of incompetence that the GOP has shown.”
The SCC discussion hit the same emotional notes as the past few meetings — deep frustration with arcane parliamentary procedures, confusion due to the internet-based format, machinations from both sides to manipulate the rules to favor their preferred outcome, name-calling, and some shouting.
In the Facebook chat accompanying the live stream of the meeting, some people played SCC Meeting Bingo while others argued for what they thought the SCC should do. The RPV Facebook page admin allegedly blocked John Fredericks from the chat. Fredericks had posted a link to an editorial where he called the meeting a “clown car Zoom.” Fredericks credited Chris Shores with advocating for him to be allowed back in the chat.
Wade said a personal friend who is a high-level Democratic operative texted him, “Ya’ll look like fools.”
“Maybe we ought to take a hint,” Wade said.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Rich Anderson” by Rich Anderson. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Anderskev. CC BY 3.0.