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BOCS Chairman Special Election NOT on Nov 7th

By Greg L | 9 September 2006 | Prince William County | 37 Comments

I’ve learned that Sean Connaughton has not resigned his Chairmanship of the PWC BOCS in time to have a special election to fill his seat held on November 7th.

This is just plain silly. Connaughton was sworn in on the September 6th, which gave him plenty of time to manage this trivial administrative action. I can’t help but feel that there was some reason for his delay which is not in the interest of the county or it’s voters.

Bad move.



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37 Comments

  1. James Young said on 9 Sep 2006 at 10:14 pm:
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    Chairman Sean screws the taxpayers and the GOP one more time.

    Color me surprised.

  2. Had to Say said on 9 Sep 2006 at 10:20 pm:
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    Does this mean that another convention will be held or do the same candidates keep the nomination?

  3. James Young said on 9 Sep 2006 at 10:33 pm:
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    I don’t know about the Democrat nomination. The GOP Call specified that it was to select a nominee for the anticipated special election, without a specific date. Thus, if Chairman Sean hadn’t resigned, a new nominee would have had to have been selected in the normal course of things. Corey’s nomination remains valid.

  4. Mason Conservative said on 9 Sep 2006 at 11:45 pm:
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    I don’t live in PWC, but this is pretty outregous. What on earth was Connaughton thinking? Its not just the taxpayers, but PWC needs a county chairmen and this just extends that abscence at the top. I really like Connaughton, and voted for him in the LG primary, but this is really embarassing for him. Still, here’s hoping Corey Stewart mops the floor in victory.

  5. charles said on 9 Sep 2006 at 11:46 pm:
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    Riley said he knew Sean had resigned, and NovaScout said he knew it happened Tuesday night. How would these people know about the resignation, but not the County election board.

    BTW, in my blog I question why the election can’t still be Nov 7th. If a judge only takes two days to decide this thing, he will then be forced by law to call the election on the 7th, so far as I can tell, regardless of PWC election board administrative deadlines.

    So I’m still holding out faint hope, while wondering why Sean would screw PW like this. What did we do to him to deserve this? I don’t get it.

    What about it, Sean Supporters? What is the secret plan that makes all this make sense? TC, you said he’d do what was right, what is the news, what is coming that will make us all happy about this?

  6. anon said on 10 Sep 2006 at 12:26 am:
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    Who this really screws is Tom Davis and George Allen.

  7. Craig said on 10 Sep 2006 at 8:50 am:
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    If this story is true, Sean Connaughton is leaving his job by sticking a big thumb in everyone’s eye. Thanks.

    I have been told that a judge could still order the election to take place on November 7th and over rule the board of elections on this. Time will tell.

  8. James Young said on 10 Sep 2006 at 12:32 pm:
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    I think — and hope — that Craig is correct about this. Nevertheless, Chairman Sean has been playing chicken with these deadlines, without even showing, well, anyone the respect of offering an explanation. Even his reflexive apologists. Regardless of what happens, his failure to insure that a timely election could be conducted without any explanation whatsoever simply demonstrates the utter arrogance of the man. I think his critics are entitled to an “I told you so.”

  9. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 10 Sep 2006 at 2:32 pm:
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    Potomac News finally has the article about Connaughton here:

    http://www.potomacnews.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WPN%2FMGArticle%2FWPN_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149190520207&path=!news

    My source at DOT said Connaughton did resign prior to taking the oath and that was a requirement for the oath to be administered.

  10. Republican Ralph said on 10 Sep 2006 at 2:56 pm:
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    Riley that was a regurgitated press release take straight from the DOT website (crack reporting job there Potomac News!) When questioned by a citizen at a recent campaign fundraiser, Rep. Davis stated that this was Sean’s way of getting even for Corey not supporting him in the (losing) Lt Gov race. Of course I guess it is no problem that Sean is poking a finger in the eye once again of the PWC Republican Committee, PWC Republicans, hard working campaign volunteers from BOTH parties and the nice folks who volunteer on Election Day (who will have to come back in a month or two AGAIN to open the polls). FYI Sean is STILL listed as Chariman for a 9/11 event and also is on the Agenda for Tuesday’s BOCS meeting. I looked into the Hatch Act about Federal appointees continuing their elected duties after being appointed but am unclear on if Sean is breaking the law by continuing his BOCS duties while now listed as the Acting Administrator at the Maritime Administration. Hmm, wonder if anyone has looked into this…

  11. charles said on 10 Sep 2006 at 8:55 pm:
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    Republican Ralph — I’m sorry, but that’s a pretty extrodinary charge, if true.

    Is there anybody who was at this event, who heard Tom Davis say this about Sean, and who would be willing to give their word about hearing that publicly, and with their real name?

    Because even if Sean really did this, and Tom Davis knew about it, I can’t imagine Tom Davis would have actually SAID this in public. He would have to know it would make Sean look silly, and I’ve always thought Tom was Sean’s friend.

  12. James Young said on 10 Sep 2006 at 9:27 pm:
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    I, too, find it hard to believe that Tom would say this. Even if it does sound like vintage Chairman Sean.

  13. Republican Ralph said on 10 Sep 2006 at 11:02 pm:
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    Charles:
    I was there and I have it directly from the person who asked Tom about it. It was during a one-on-one conversation with Tom. He/She has a real name and was really there and if that person wishes to come forward that is up to him/her. My take on it is not that Tom knew about Sean’s foot dragging with the resignation in advance, but was just providing his response/opinion on why Sean has done this.

  14. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 10 Sep 2006 at 11:53 pm:
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    Here are the facts. PN Exec. Editor just confirmed hours ago that she personally heard the phone conversation with Walker on Friday confirming Connaughton had resigned. I’ve asked her for and am waiting for the name of the person he received the confirmation from, but in the mean time something tells me we’ve all been Shanghaied by Prince Connaughton.

    In my opinion I think certain people I personally spoke to on Friday (John G. said he spoke to Jane B and there was no resignation) intentionally offered inaccurate information to throw the Party off track for the purpose of postponing the Special Election until January so they can bring in an Independent candidate to SMACK the Honorable Mr. Stewart.

    Why would the Election Board deny having this knowledge?

    Yes, Congressman Davis stated to me directly on Saturday, “Corey didn’t do the right thing by not supporting Sean for Lt. Gov., and if he mad him then he’s going to have to deal with that himself.”

    Since when does accepting $12,000 of campaign money imply that you must support the giver or VOTE with that person. I elect my public officials with the expectation that they will do what is best for their constituents and community?

  15. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 11 Sep 2006 at 12:23 am:
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    Clarification /correction…if he (meaning Corey) made him (Sean) mad, then he (Corey) is going to have to deal with that himself.

    Delaying the Special Election hurts the Party, the candidate, local government, and at the expense of the tax payers! Why didn’t Tom and even Senator Allen pressure Prince Connaughton to do the right thing?

    They expect us to work hard getting them elected in November, which I have, but if Corey is not on the November 7th ballot, then they are responsible for letting us down because they failed to take responsibility for THE PARTY.

    That is not the kind of leadership I would have expected from either of them.

  16. anon said on 11 Sep 2006 at 10:07 am:
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    Corey’s Biggest Fan-
    I wasn’t there, nor am I privy to any inside information, but it sounds from your tone like you are upset w/ Davis. From my understanding of Davis, he’s pretty frank in his politcal analysis. In reading your comments, it kind of sounds like Davis was taking sides. When he says, “Corey didn’t do the right thing,” I would imagine he meant it in the political sense–i.e. it would have made more sense for his long-term political future for him to back Sean, not necessarily that it was the “right thing” in a moral sense. Is that the correct reading of the conversation?

  17. anon said on 11 Sep 2006 at 10:10 am:
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    oh, and if you think Davis or Allen or anyone else can pressure Connaughton into doing anything, I’d have to disagree. Connaughton is pretty darn stubborn, don’t you think? And I don’t mean that in a good or bad way–just one of Sean’s personality traits as I see it.

  18. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 11 Sep 2006 at 9:55 pm:
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    The resignation letter has surfaced dated September 6th. Moreover, he intends to vacate his position on September 12th. The letter was received after the ballots had been sent to the printer so unless a Judge rules differently, we will not be voting for Chairman on November 7th.

    After an election, voting booths are sealed for 60 days, which will delay the Special Election for Chairman until after January 7, 2007 and returning on November 7, 2007 for the General Election. On November 7 there will be an estimated 40% voter turn out, in January it will be closer to 4%. A stronger voter turn out in January will help endure our success on November 7, 2007.

    As we bid farewell to Prince Connaughton at the BofCS meeting on Tuesday, we should all reflect on the prosperity we have been blessed with during his time as Chairman. His strength, focus, and determination will be a virtue in keeping our Country safe as he continues to serve us as the Maritime Administrator.

    I encourage all Republicans to focus on the future, work together and build unity within the Party. These are unsafe times in the world, we need to work together keeping Republicans in elected positions so Americans can live freely in a prosperous nation that is liberated from the constraints of terrorism.

  19. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 11 Sep 2006 at 9:59 pm:
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    Correction: Posted on 10 September at 11:53 pm, “They” wasn’t meant to implicate the messenger.

  20. NoVA Scout said on 11 Sep 2006 at 11:12 pm:
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    Think about it, guys. Connaughton presided at the BoS meeting on the 5th and was sworn in to the federal post on the 6th. It follows ineluctably that he resigned sometime between these two events. No other possibility. Nothing extraordinary about it. You can’t hold both jobs simultaneously, so you resign the County job before you’re sworn in to the Federal job. Fairly pedestrian stuff, I’d say. I have no special information on this, but I’d be willing to make a substantial wager that the resignation is dated either the 5th (late evening) or the 6th (sometime before he took the oath as Maritime Administrator). I’d expect to get the same odds as I would on a bet that the sun will come up in the east on any given day.

  21. charles said on 12 Sep 2006 at 1:09 am:
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    I think we all believe he resigned, because he would have to.

    The question was why he didn’t inform the appropriate people of his resignation in time for them to take the actions needed to have the election on November 7th.

    Given the new information that virginia law allows action on a pending resignation, apparently all Sean had to do was to announce his intent to resign on the 5th after the meeting, and a judge could have worked on this a couple of weeks ago.

    It does seem that Sean didn’t want his post filled in November.

    Now, for a bit of a speculation as to why. Maureen will be the new chairman with Sean’s retirement. The longer she serves in that position, the more she will be like the “incumbent”. If the election isn’t until January, it is possible Maureen could run as an independent just because she is already serving the position. Or a fight could be made over the nominating conventions.

    I don’t know what Sean’s motives were, but it does seem he went out of his way to avoid a November election to replace him.

  22. NoVA Scout said on 12 Sep 2006 at 7:33 am:
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    Charles: the post and some of the comments seemed to imply that the resignation hadn’t occurred. My point (and your initial point, I guess) is that of course it did and we know within hours when it did.

    I’m sure that the local GOP Committee was coordinating all this very closely with Connaughton. That’s just elementary common sense. They no doubt discussed in detail the uncertainties of his situation but decided to go ahead with a nominating convention in the absence of a vacancy. By getting out ahead of events (i.e., a vacancy) on the nominating conventions, both parties surely understood that they were acting on a contingency, the timing of which no one controlled. In fact, the problem was widely discussed in the blogs and elsewhere. The advantage of having done it, I suppose, is that they now know who their candidates will be. But there was never any particular reason, other than a general desire, to assume that the special election would coincide with the general election. It was helpful that the nomination/clearance/confirmation process for Connaughton went as quickly as it did or the interim period before the next general election might have been much shorter. At least now, the new Chairman will get the better part of a year in the job.

  23. Anon said on 12 Sep 2006 at 1:41 pm:
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    If Connaughton resigned on “either the 5th (late evening) or the 6th,” as NovaScout says, why is he scheduled to appoint several people to the Economic Development Council on the Sept. 12 Board Agenda, which was published on Sept. 8? Something is obviously wrong.

  24. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 12 Sep 2006 at 2:50 pm:
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    Maureen won’t run as an independent.

  25. James Young said on 12 Sep 2006 at 4:39 pm:
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    I agree with Riley, for reasons I’ve stated elsewhere, e.g., she doesn’t travel well outside of Dumfries. Maureen would be a fool to run as an independent. She would have had a better chance — not a good one, but a better one — to have run for the GOP nomination in the convention.

  26. charles said on 12 Sep 2006 at 5:24 pm:
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    “the timing of which no one controlled.”

    Sean controlled the timing. Once he knew he was confirmed, he could have immediately announced his intention to resign effective September 6th. Then, according to law, the election could have been set in plenty of time for November 7th.

    This wasn’t a shock, Sean knew he would eventually be confirmed, and he must have known it COULD happen quickly. And he knew he had to resign, so that wasn’t a surprise either.

    It’s hard to see how this isn’t something done on purpose, although we can’t know that for sure.

    If I had to guess about the board meeting, he’s on the agenda precisely because, even though he apparently resigned on the 5th, HE DID NOT TELL ANYBODY here in Prince William.

    Here’s the real question — at the 9/11 service, was he introduced as the PWC chair or not?

  27. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 12 Sep 2006 at 6:17 pm:
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    I officially proclaim Mr. Connaughton the WINNER for a game well played! Brilliant strategy and execution right down to the very last detail. Touché Prince Connaughton.

    As a loyal, moderate Republican, I must emphasize that the number one focus is keeping Republicans in office and regardless of the circumstances leading up to this point; Corey is our Republican candidate for Chairman.

    What I want to know is will the judge be the one to determine the actual election date for Chairman? The delay in the election will probably invite an Independent candidate into the race. I would make a wager that once the election date is announced someone will rise to the occasion.

    We then have Maureen as Chairman from September 13 to January 8th and Corey from January 9 to November 7, and so on. Thanks a lot Mr. Connaughton (no longer the Prince of Prince William). As Jimmy would say ”Holy Smokes Superman, I think we’re in a pickle now!”

  28. charles said on 12 Sep 2006 at 8:50 pm:
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    On interpretation is that Sean just wanted to remind all of us who really is in charge around here.

    If Riley was correct about the law, it seems to have been bent or broken. But since I can’t imagine the Bush administration NOT making sure the law was followed, it does seem that Sean was allowed by law to serve in both positions at the same time.

    So what is it? Riley, you still here? Can you clarify this for us? I just want to know, I hate not understanding what just happened.

  29. anon said on 12 Sep 2006 at 10:36 pm:
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    I believe the law states that you can not RUN for a partisan position, not that one can not HOLD a partisan position. I have no idea if there is something more restraining that applies specifically to White House appointments, however.

    As far as the resignation, in addition to members having received a party letter by email, it has been posted up on the website with 2 quotes I find intriguing. The party letter is dated Monday Sept 11:

    “It appears to be a few weeks too late to allow the Special Election to occur on Nov. 7, though.”

    A FEW WEEKS too late.

    “the letter of resignation was needed two weeks ago to allow a Nov. 7 special election.”

    Needed TWO WEEKS AGO. So even a letter effective the date of confirmation (Sept 6?) would not have been sufficient to allow an election on Nov. 7 (without an overriding intervention of a judge).

    I believe that state law also states that once one submits a letter of resignation, that date sticks. In children’s parlance, there are no “backsies”. (I read that quite some time ago, and admit that I haven’t taken the time tonight to look it up again to confirm.) Some might consider it to be putting the cart before the horse to resign early. Because as we all know, there are no guarantees in life.

  30. James Young said on 13 Sep 2006 at 5:07 pm:
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    Turns out we were all wrong. The special will be on the 7th. Sean’s best efforts to the contrary notwithstanding.

  31. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 13 Sep 2006 at 8:01 pm:
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    I second that. The Special Election will be held on November 7th according to a very reliable source. Any wagers on an independent?

  32. NoVA Scout said on 13 Sep 2006 at 9:10 pm:
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    JY: there’s no indication that Connaughton was trying to do anything of the sort. Folks just got themselves into some kind of vapors over the thing because they didn’t know where the resignation was.

  33. James Young said on 13 Sep 2006 at 10:06 pm:
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    “NoVA Scout,” I would expect a long-time colleague of Chairman Sean to make nothing but apologies. But I would expect a partner in a Washington law firm to offer at least one rational reason for his temporizing. Even though your colleague has utterly failed to give even one reason, and you follow his example.

    This entire episode stinks of Chairman Sean’s petty politics and personal vendettas, the kind that have alienated many former supporters. It’s good to know that the fine bench that we have in Prince William — or at least the judge responsible for deciding this issue — didn’t reward him for it.

  34. NoVA Scout said on 13 Sep 2006 at 11:19 pm:
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    The judge, James, had to schedule the special not more than 60 days after the resignation. By resigning on the 6th, Connaughton virtually ensured that the special had to coincide with the General on November 7th. If he had resigned significantly earlier (although he could not have done so and presided at the BoCS meeting on the 5th), there was a chance that the the Special could have preceded the General. The timing seems consistent with Connaughton’s agreement with Kopko, expressed in correspondence, that the best interests of the County were for the General and the Special to coincide. That some people were stewing about it the past few days just indicates to me that the people most concerned had the least awareness of what was going on. The blogs, for all their values, can get people all riled up on very little information. It also indicates to me that there are at least three or four people in PW who are always willing to assume the worst about Connaughton, no matter what. Fortunately, there are several tens of thousands who, like me (although I can’t vote in PW), rather like the guy. I guess being a long-time acquaintance of Connaugthon gives me an edge in these things. Once you get to know him, you really find out how impressive he is. Maybe you’ll get that chance in the coming years. Hang in there.

  35. James Young said on 13 Sep 2006 at 11:33 pm:
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    Sorry, “NoVA Scout,” but you wrongly presume that I’m interested. Besides, I’m not willing to pay the price — sycophancy — of admission. According to the Board of Elections’ schedule, he has substantially inconvenienced the people who run our elections. Why? No explanation is given (you offer none, notwithstanding your clear inside information), so one has to speculate about the reasons. Maybe some of us — including Craig Vitter, who appears to have no axe to grind — are utterly wrong. Likewise, no explanation is given for the delay in transmitting his impending resignation at a time when things could have been handled in a more orderly and leisurely pace. Perhaps it as simple as wanting to preside at the remembrances of September 11th. Even if it is, however, that’s a pretty petty reason for monkey-wrenching the elections process.

  36. NoVA Scout said on 13 Sep 2006 at 11:41 pm:
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    PS: the one part of this that I admit I don’t understand is the circular that apparently went out from the PW GOP (I think I saw it on Charles’s site) saying that the special would NOT be held on the same day as the General. I simply don’t get that, but I can see why it would get some people going.

    PPS: I base my comment on Connaughton’s agreement with Kopko on a conversation with Connaughton about this in which he told me and several others that he thought it was better to have the two elections coincide and that he had been in e-correspondence with Kopko about it. He also said at the time that he felt a little inhibited in what he could say, given the uncertainties and sensitivities about scheduling the swearing in ceremony. To be clear, I obviously didn’t see the correspondence, but I’m sure Kopko can confirm it.

  37. Corey's Biggest Fan said on 15 Sep 2006 at 11:43 am:
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    NoVA Scout,
    I agree with you. There was a lack of information that fueled many assumptions. Some of this is attributed to the widely known history between Corey and Sean.

    Most folks biggest concern and anger stemmed from the overall impact for the County. The county governments ability to remain effective, the local economy to remain strong and for to maintain the fruitful growth that we’ve come to expect under Sean’s leadership.

    Sean has big shoes to fill; he is extremely personable, intelligent and has a work ethic that is second to none. Change is always a bit scary, fear of the unknown, and a lack of information certainly fueled people’s fire. I enjoy reading your postings, they are always well thought out and written, so I would like to ask you a question or two.

    There are MANY undecided voters who are confused as to what is truly best for the county as we move closer to the November 7 2006 and even the 2007 elections. In a local election how important is party vs. the person? In addition, if you could lay the political course for the next 18-24 months in PW what would you advice be?

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