At tonight’s Manassas GOP Gala, candidate for Prince William County Clerk Michele McQuigg informed me that her opponent, Lucy Beauchamp has announced her intention to run as an independent in the race instead of continuing her efforts to seek the Republican nomination. Apparently Beauchamp hasn’t been too keen on her chances to win a convention, and several weeks back had been circulating petitions to file as an independent for the race in case she didn’t win. McQuigg has been pressuring Beauchamp to sign joint statement where both candidates would agree to accept the outcome of the Republican convention, and even though it looked as if this would be done earlier this week, Beauchamp backed out last evening and has started her campaign as an independent. But there’s more to this story.
The Beauchamp camp has been complaining about the fairness of the process for some time now. Here’s how Beauchamp’s campaign manager Lyle Beefelt has characterized some of the problems:
The party is close to messing up the convention in a way that could give Lucy a way to run as an independent without paying a political price. The party has botched the call. (Actually, they botched all three calls but that is beside the point) After accepting her check and saying that she was filed as a candidate, they issued a new call that did not say that previously filed candidates or delegates had to re-file. The Chairman then sent out a notice regarding re-filing that only reached one of the previous candidates ([McQuigg]) and waited until an hour before the deadline when Lucy was chairing a school board meeting to try and call her. All Lucy has ever said to me is that she wants a fair process, but this looks anything but fair.
The party is already aggravating republican voters by holding a weird combination of primaries and conventions. If one lives in the 51st district, a party voter must attend two conventions and still vote in a primary to have a say in all the contested nominations. Now the party will try to tell the average Joe that Lucy is disqualified because, even though they accepted her check, didn’t say clearly in the call whether candidates or delegates had to re-file and didn’t give Lucy notice of the re-filing requirement. But somehow that it Lucy’s fault because she didn’t call the Chairman to find out what they weren’t telling her she had to do. And because there are rumors that Lucy might run as an independent, she must first re-commit to this sham of a process by answering all the rumors [about running as an independent] before the party will even think about making it fair.
Apparently a series of emails between committee chairman Tom Kopko and Lucy Beauchamp left the Beauchamp campaign wondering if Lucy would be excluded from participating in the convention. There were also concerns about the credentialing process, in that once set of qualifications would be published, and another set of qualifications would be applied to delegates instead. The significant differences seem to be between Tom Kopko and the Beauchamp campaign, rather than between the two competing campaigns, which is pretty unusual. It’s probably true that Beauchamp is falling behind in signing up delegates. It’s probably true that Beauchamp would have liked to have a back door to run as an independent if things didn’t work out with the Republican convention. The key question here will be whether Beauchamp is running as an independent for Clerk primarily because the process was fatally flawed in such a way that no matter what she did, she had no hope of winning.
Whether this is a case of sour grapes, or the only viable way for a candidate to run who is not part of a selected group is going to be hashed out remains to be seen. About the only certain thing is that Bill Ryland, the Democratic Party nominee has become quite a bit more competitive despite being not well respected by the courthouse gang. This yawner of a race just got quite a bit more interesting.
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