As the inside story continues to leak out about the removal of Jeff Frederick as RPV Chairman, it looks like a grass-roots revolt may be brewing that will come to a head at the upcoming RPV Convention. Howie Lind’s recent email to Republican activists certainly adds fuel to that fire, but so far any actual organization of a revolt seems to be waiting until after the May 2nd State Central meeting when they will anoint a new Chairman. Will the convention ratify their selection, or will the grass-roots smack down this coup?
What Happened to Jeff Frederick?
As a member of the State Central Committee that removed Jeff Frederick as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) on April 4th, I have first hand knowledge of this public lynching. This whole affair begs the questions: how did we get to this point, and why did this unprecedented action occur?
To answer these questions, we must go back to the day Jeff Frederick was elected as the Virginia GOP State Party Chairman at the state convention in May 2008. Jeff ran an aggressive state-wide campaign during the early spring of 2008 leading up to the convention. The result was that he soundly defeated John Hager, the former Lieutenant Governor and the current state party Chairman. Hager’s supporters (also known as the “party elite”, or just the “establishment”) vowed that day to go after Frederick, but in what way and to what end, they didn’t exactly know.
Over the course of last summer and fall, it became apparent to Jeff’s opponents that they must take him out, somehow. They quickly realized that Jeff wasn’t going to “play ball” the way previous Chairmen had, nor was he going to kow-tow to the Virginia GOP elected leaders in both Richmond and Washington. This is what really set them off. To them, the job of the state party Chairman is essentially to serve at the beck and call of these elected leaders to do whatever they wanted done to protect their incumbency. Jeff’s governing philosophy, indeed his whole campaign message and the reason why he ran for Chairman in the first place, was exactly not that at all. Jeff ran on empowering grassroots Republicans across Virginia to take charge of their party, while expressing tried and true conservative values that candidates could run on at the local, state, and federal levels.
That was the rub. Jeff espoused empowering the grassroots, while the “elite establishment” wants the Chairman to serve them. Thus the battle began in earnest last fall, which unfortunately occurred right during the Presidential and congressional campaigns. The timing was bad because both Jeff and his opponents became embroiled in this fight when our total energies and resources should have been devoted to keeping Virginia “red” for McCain, as well as winning the other congressional races.
The September 2008 State Central Committee meeting was devoted entirely to squabbling over rules for the 2009 state convention, pushed by Jeff’s detractors, while ignoring the general election that was only 6 weeks away. The December State Central meeting was a weak attempt to unseat Jeff, but it failed miserably. At that point, Jeff’s opponents doubled-down and got serious about removing him as Chairman. The state party rules say that in order to remove a sitting Chairman, they either would need a 2/3 vote by the delegates at a state convention, or ¾ of the members of the State Central Committee. Further, the party plan states that the Chairman will be presented with “charges” and be given at least 30 days before the “removal meeting” is held. And that they did.
Jeff’s opponents busily worked under the radar for three months earlier this year to come up with 10 charges (all completely bogus), and they attained signatures from 75% of the State Central Committee membership calling for his removal. They presented these charges to Jeff on March 4th, and called for the meeting to be held on April 4th, giving Jeff the required 30 days.
As a side note, I was repeatedly asked who spearheaded this huge effort to remove Jeff. That’s easy, it was Mike Thomas (RPV First Vice Chairman), Rick Neel (RPV Treasurer), Mike Wade (3rd Congressional District Chairman), and Linwood Cobb (7th Congressional District Chairman).
Regarding the April 4th meeting, what a total sham. Or more to the point, what a room full of sheep, who did exactly what their GOP elected officials told them to do – vote to remove Jeff. The actual “trial” or the one hour presentations from both sides was a joke. The opponents presented neither facts nor truth; rather it was all conjecture, emotion, and hyperbole. They didn’t prove one thing to substantiate any one of the 10 charges against Jeff. Conversely, Jeff’s team tore to shreds each and every charge against him. If this had been an actual trial with an unbiased jury of his peers, the result would have been a unanimous acquittal for Jeff. Such was not the case. The opponent’s case can summed up by one single statement: “you need to vote for Jeff’s removal because the Virginia’s elected Republicans told you to.” Make sense? Yeah, if you’re a member of the politburo in the former Soviet Union. What a crock.
So, now we, the Republican Party of Virginia, are faced with a great dilemma. What happens to the thousands of Jeff’s supporters from last year’s state convention who most likely will be attending this year’s state convention? Whatever the answer, it doesn’t bode well for those GOP leaders who will take the stage at the convention who also were instrumental in removing Jeff Frederick as Chairman. Worse for them, what happens if Jeff decides to run again for Chairman at the convention, which he has every right to do? The answer to these questions are all bad. Fratricide, circular firing squads, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. All these phrases apply during this silly season.
Republican State Central Committee Member
from the 10th Congressional District
With an organization as troubled as this, it’s going to take a major overhaul before RPV regains any relevance to elections in Virginia.
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