This is one of those years when local committees reorganize themselves, and this year Lyle Beefelt, who has done an utterly outstanding job of sheparding the PWCGOP through the perils of committee politics is not running for re-election. That has left an opening for Tom Whitmore, a dedicated activist who currently serves as Vice-Chair, to rise to the chairmanship. It might not be quite that simple, though.
Tom is a good friend of mine, and I truly appreciate the hard work he’s been putting in for years helping Republicans get elected in Prince William County. He is dedicated, tireless, and truly committed to the cause of conservatism. He also has about as much grace as an angry grizzly bear when politics are hot, as evidenced by a rather humorous robo-call he recorded this past general election cycle. He’s utterly a take-no-prisoners kind of political street fighter, and absolutely an asset to any campaign or cause lucky enough to snag his allegiance. Whitmore’s definitely someone I like to have on my side in any political battle not only because life is much simpler when that happens, but because I have the utmost respect for him and enjoy being his ally.
To quite a few out there — particularly a number of local elected officials — that isn’t a great fit for a leadership role where public relations and quiet internal diplomacy are more the hallmarks of success, however. They’ve crossed horns with Tom occasionally when they might have strayed from “the one true faith” so to speak, and come away a bit frustrated by what they saw as unnecessary and counter-productive backbiting. Perhaps they overstate the issue a bit, but these encounters have left them with the impression that Whitmore would be a challenge to work with. They’re probably right in some respects about that, but only when they allow perceived political calculations to soften what might otherwise be a fearless dedication to principle. Maybe in such a case Whitmore is exactly what is needed, but elected officials don’t relish the idea of beating back (potentially public) criticism from party leadership when they’re trying to find a compromise.
Within this environment I’m hearing of at least one alternative name being mentioned. I’ll leave it for those folks to announce for themselves when they actually commit to undertaking such an effort, but it’s worth mentioning the alternatives I’ve heard about here differ far more in style than they would in substance. With Lyle’s highly successful and multi-term tenure he sets a precedent for drama-less and effective unit governance, and my suspicion is that a lot of local committee members would be eager to find as close to a clone of that leadership style as possible for the next chairman’s term. If Tom Whitmore isn’t the candidate to deliver that, I think there may well be one or more alternatives who might come pretty close.
It’s been a while since there’s been a contest for this position, and we’ve been lucky to have evaded the kind of drama that typically characterizes these kinds of races. That’s not going to be the case this time as the PWCGOP is forced to make a choice about what attributes are important for a unit chairman to exhibit. At least the candidates I’m hearing about all have plenty of good ones, but still making that choice is hardly ever easy.
UPDATE: Virtucon has a new rumor about this race to talk about today.
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