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Matt Harrison Resigns from PWCDC

By Greg L | 31 January 2007 | PWCDC | 16 Comments

Matt Harrison, the campaign manager for Democrat Jeanette Rishell who ran for the 50th House District in 2006, has resigned from the Prince William County Democratic Party and as 1st CD Vice Chairman. This is a pretty significant event for the PWCDC, which brings into focus the internal divisions that have torn the PWCDC apart and hampered their ability to recruit and elect quality candidates in the county.  The old guard of centrist Democrats is being strongly challenged by a more liberal and activist faction in the party that seems to favor, one that has brought us candidates such as Jeff Dion who was severely trounced yesterday, Bruce Roemmelt, and Jeanette Rishell.  The battle royale for the soul of the PWCDC seems to be on… 

Members of the Steering Committee, et al:

I joined the PWCDC 10 years ago with the hopes of working with a Party that was dedicated to winning elections and improving the Democratic brand across the County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. Through many experiences with the PWCDC I have found little evidence to support my hopes.

We have seen a rapid deterioration of Democratic representation in Virginia, specifically at the State and Local levels. Many Chairmen have come and gone, each hoping to unite the various factions within the PWCDC in order to increase our representation on the Board of Supervisors and in the General Assembly.

Each has failed.

The reason for this failure is simple. The power within the PWCDC does not rest with the Chair and the other elected members of the Steering Committee or the Magisterial Districts and their individual members. The power rests solely with John & Ernestine Jenkins, Hilda Barg, Chuck Colgan and their closest supporters.

In the minds of these 3, the PWCDC exists to re-elect them and nothing else, or no other candidate, matters. We lose House of Delegates races every two years because Colgan, Jenkins, and Barg either limit or completely withhold their support from our candidates.

No Board of Supervisor or Delegate candidate received any support from these 3 during the 2003 elections because, Jenkins and Barg in particular, didn’t want to upset their Republican friends on the Board.

Hilda Barg is a known Tom Davis supporter and went out of her way to ignore Ken Longmeyer in 2004.

While Jenkins did support Earnie Porta in 2005, Barg would not support Earnie because she was friends with McQuigg. Colgan wouldn’t even take a picture with Bruce during the 2005 campaign.

There are many other examples of Colgan, Barg, and Jenkins having collectively worked to destroy the campaigns of other Democrats in PWC and they continue to be very willing to accept Republican domination of government; but I want to focus on one, recent, and telling issue.

As you know, 31st District Court Judge LeRoy Millete has reappointed Helen Cram to represent the Democratic Party on the PWC Electoral Board. Judge Millete reappointed Ms. Cram at the request of our elected officials and a member of the Dumfries Magisterial district despite the fact that she was not re-nominated by our Chairman, Vic Bras.

I have been told that Helen Cram will now serve at least nine years on the Electoral Board despite Steering Committee objections to her initial appointment and chairmen objections to her two re-appointments.

She is allowed to continue to do this despite the fact that she is not active in either the Dumfries Committee or the PWCDC.

The Party has once again been undermined by this clique bent on destroying the party as an organization to elect Democrats to State and Local offices. The PWCDC continues to be manipulated by this team of subversives who only crave success for their own, at the expense of every other Democratic candidate in Prince William County, Manasass, and Manassas Park. This undermines the entire Steering Committee and Magisterial District leadership structure at a time when we need to be focused on the many elections to be held this year.

As a result, I have no choice but to resign as 1st Congressional District Vice-Chair and as a member of the Dumfries Magisterial District Committee.

I now consider myself an Independent and will do what I can to aide in defeating John Jenkins and Hilda Barg and I sincerely hope that Chuck Colgan decides to retire. There might be short term pain by defeating these 3, but the long term health of the Party depends on their defeat.

Once this gang of three is gone, the PWCDC will have a chance of fulfilling our hopes of a Democratic resurgence in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Sincerely,

Matthew Harrison



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16 Comments

  1. compassionate conservative said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:19 am:
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    Sounds a little bit like our local Republican Party, where a small group seems to want to run the whole show. Maybe Mr. Harrison would have been a good choice for Planning Commissioner instead of current Democrat Gary Friedman.

  2. James Young said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:26 am:
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    Yeah, CC — ‘cept “our local Republican Party” fields candidates who win elections.

  3. James Young said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:28 am:
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    And, of course, the fact that those elected Dems did not support Dion is simply indicative of how far out he was as a candidate, campaign rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.

  4. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:31 am:
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    “We lose House of Delegates races every two years because Colgan, Jenkins, and Barg either limit or completely withhold their support from our candidates.”

    Uh, Barg WAS a candidate for House of Delegates in ‘05 and SHE lost, so it seems that her support and that of her colleagues wouldn’t make much of a difference for any Democrat candidate for the House in PWC. There was no limiting or withholding of support for Hilda in her race.

  5. Anonymous said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:33 am:
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    The elected Dems did work for Dion. The fact is that Matt didn’t do anything for Jeff and he hasn’t done anything at all for the past year. He hasn’t been to a meeting of the steering committee in 8 months. You once again need to check your facts before you post things from deadweights. I know you guys have some do.

  6. Huge Shakeup Among PWC Dems « Virginia Virtucon said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:37 am:
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    […] loss in the special election for Occoquan Supervisor and the PWC Dems are already seeing the infighting spill out into public view with the resignation of one of their top members.  (I wonder if this means the “PWC […]

  7. Matt Harrison said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:38 am:
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    Actually, they did support Dion, Pandak did as well, and this is another example of the issue I have with the PWCDC and why we continue to lose elections. Dion was a terrible candidate, one whom I did not support in any way. I hardly consider myself a liberal, as Greg alludes, but I am certainly an activist.

    These electeds continue to believe the future of the party is centered on the Eastern part of the county and they continue to want to focus on this small segment of the county electorate. (Woodbridge and Neabsco as their base contain very few votes)Pandak was clobbered in November because she had Jenkins, Barg, Cram, and others as her campaign team. Vic and I continually tried to push Pandak to focus on the central and western precints, and more heavily on the growth issue, to no avail and thus a huge defeat.

    As long as these 3 field their backward thinking candidates and continue to focus on small Democratic precincts in the east, the Democratic party in PWC is doomed.

  8. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:39 am:
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    Anon, not 3 months ago Matt was managing Rishell’s House of Delegates campaign, so that is not fair to say he hasn’t done anything at all for the past year. And other than Ebert, I didn’t see any PWC-based elected Dem officials endorsing Dion, either.

  9. Anon said on 31 Jan 2007 at 12:50 pm:
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    “I joined the PWCDC 10 years ago with the hopes of working with a Party that was dedicated to winning elections and improving the Democratic brand across the County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.”

    This sentence says it all. Instead of being concerned about the actual issues that concern voters, the dems are apparently only interested in winning elections. They still haven’t figured out that voters support candidates who have demonstated their commitment to public service and who run on an actual platform that is based on something more than just party affiliation. People who are interested in their community only while they are running for office do not make good candidates.

  10. Mid-Level Moderate said on 31 Jan 2007 at 4:06 pm:
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    “This sentence says it all. Instead of being concerned about the actual issues that concern voters, the dems are apparently only interested in winning elections. They still haven’t figured out that voters support candidates who have demonstated their commitment to public service and who run on an actual platform that is based on something more than just party affiliation. People who are interested in their community only while they are running for office do not make good candidates.”

    Kind of like Milt Johns is doing such a great job representing Brenstville on the School Board now that he’s looking at bigger fish? As I understand it, he (and Lucy Beauchamps) failed to show at School of Excellence presentations in the Brentsville District, leaving the Area II Assc. Superintendent to read their remarks. Johns hasn’t been focused on Brentsville in years and I won’t be surprised if he sees the Chair position as just another stepping stone to bigger and better things (i.e., Marshall’s House seat should he run for Colgan’s Senate seat or get beat by Roemelt).

    Political posturing just to get elected is not limited to Prince William Democrats. It seems to be endemic among all politicians.

  11. mom said on 31 Jan 2007 at 5:14 pm:
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    If that poseur Johns runs for either, I’ll primary him myself. He did a real nice job throwing the BOCS under the bus at the school board meeting this month, telling half truths that had to be corrected by Don Richardson. He’s no better than that other ladder climbing poseur, Beauchamp. Funny how she’s jumping ship just before it hits the rocks. That being said, he will also have to defend his actions that helped pressure the county into accepting some controversial rezonings. Go back and listen to the audio of the meeting at which Wentworth Green was approved, his comments during the public hearing were precious.

  12. Doug in Mount Vernon said on 31 Jan 2007 at 10:54 pm:
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    “And, of course, the fact that those elected Dems did not support Dion is simply indicative of how far out he was as a candidate, campaign rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.”

    Ah, that sounds like James Young indeed!

    James, the idea the Jeff’s campaign was “out there” is just silly and untrue and you know it. What you thought was “out there” was that Jeff is a gay man.

    Jeff’s issues were very mainstream and well-received. As usual in a slightly GOP leaning district special election, poor Democratic turnout led to a Republican win. This was obviously won, and lost, on the ground.

    It does seem like the PWCDC has some major soul searching and building to do, but I hope you GOPers continue to be so cocky, because you certainly shouldn’t be. There is no mistaking that the blue trend has crept south beyond the Occoquan River, and will continue to march south and west as the suburbs grow.

    When the Democratic Party in PWC grows past their current pains, y’all better duck. They’re going to turn PWC blue. Question is, will it be in time for 2011 & redistricting?

  13. Greg L said on 31 Jan 2007 at 11:09 pm:
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    Wow. Dion gets utterly thumped, yet he was well-received? Apparently not well-received enough to motivate voters to actually go out and cast a ballot for him. Perhaps he was received well in Mount Vernon, and should consider moving there and running.

    Occoquan voters simply didn’t prefer Jeff Dion over Mike May. That’s the inescapable conclusion that some PWC dems just cannot accept, believing that it’s all John Jenkins and Hilda Barg’s fault somehow.

    And that’s fine with me. Don’t listen to dems who actually know how to win. I like having my picture in the paper attending victory parties — my kids get a real kick out of it.

  14. James Young said on 1 Feb 2007 at 12:19 am:
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    Yeah, DiMV, the agenda of Perversion Prince William … er, “Equality Prince William,” that’s “mainstream.” You go with that.

    And yes, that Dion is a homosexual is “out there.” So is the fact that he lied to the BSA — explicitly or implicitly — by assuming the role of Cub Scout Pack leader notwithstanding his homosexual behavior.

    Perhaps you’ve managed to mainstream perversion north of the Occoquan, but there’s a whole lot of Virginia south of the Occoquan that disagrees. Vehemently.

  15. Batson D. Belfrey said on 1 Feb 2007 at 8:30 am:
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    “This sentence says it all. Instead of being concerned about the actual issues that concern voters, the dems are apparently only interested in winning elections.”

    Er…I thought that was the purpose of political parties…to find, nominate, and elect members of their party, ie. Win Elections.

    What this shows me is that the Dems are not immune to a little infighting themselves. A similar struggle has been going on in the PWCGOP, between conservatives and moderates. From the resignations of Harrison and Bras, it appears that the more moderate elements of the PWCDC have won. This, along with the election results of the last ten years, should demonstrate that the voters of PWC reject liberalism, preferring moderates and conservatives.

    Now if Jacobsen and Westhof would leave too, the Dems might have a shot at a local election.

  16. got2bdem said on 6 Feb 2007 at 6:07 pm:
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    The Democratic Party lost an enormous resource in Matt Harrison’s resignation. He is intelligent, extremely hard working, and probably one of the most knowledgable Democrats I’ve ever known. As Matt said in his comments, he worked for candidates (Feldbush and Rishell) that DPVA just ignored. And each of those candidates had remarkable results for their districts, considering the money limitations.

    I know that Feldbush (a good candidate that even brought over lots of Independents and Republicans) didn’t get the support from two of the three committees that were in his district! He even did better than Kaine in some of the district’s precincts!

    Until the DPVA takes an interest in supporting Democratic candidates, Virginia will continue to be Republican. I’ll take a bet on it!

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