Fauquier GOP sues RPV and 1st District over tossed-out election

By Lynn R. Mitchell

“In America, we just don’t overturn elections like we are in some kind of banana republic,” [James] Rich said in a phone interview Thursday. “In my 20 years on the Republican committee, I have never seen anything like this.”

That about sums up why Republican in Fauquier County are taking their congressional district and the Republican Party of Virginia to court after votes from the March mass meeting were scuttled, the one who won the election by more than 200 votes tossed, and the committee ordered by the Republican Party of Virginia’s central committee to have a re-do. The ones doing the tossing out of a properly-elected chairman were many of the same ones who protested earlier this year about the legal process known as slating.

Tossing out a proper election is not legal (see Four Fauquier Republicans sue state party leadership):

“Somebody lost an election and just couldn’t accept that,” Rich, one of the plaintiffs who filed suit this week, said of Mr. Jones. “They’re trying to disenfranchise the people who voted (in the March 22 canvass) and that doesn’t happen in the United States.”

Party politics can be difficult to follow. Markus Schmidt with the Richmond Times-Dispatch explained why the protest (see Fauquier Republicans sue district and state GOP):

Republicans in Fauquier, a county firmly in GOP hands, held the canvass March 22. In the election for chairman, Scott T. Russell defeated Cameron L. Jones by 206 votes out of 1,206 cast, court records show.

On April 27, Jones contested the election – 27 days after the deadline established by the rules for the canvass – on the grounds that an unknown number of Democrats may have voted in the canvass without being required to sign written loyalty oaths renouncing their affiliation with the Democratic Party and pledging to support all of the Republican nominees in the general election on Nov. 4.

The Fauquier GOP rejected Jones’ challenges because he had filed after deadline and because the RPV’s official rules do not require such loyalty oaths from voters.

The state party’s so-called Plan of Organization has established that loyalty oath requirements are not mandatory and are up to the particular party unit that is holding the election.

In Fauquier, Republicans usually do not ask their voters for such oaths, and it was not part of the rules for the canvass that the county Republican committee had passed unanimously prior to the election, Rich said.

The Fauquier Times broke it down into bullet points (see Fauquier Republican feud heads to circuit court):

The lawsuit requests:

-A declaration that Jones’s challenge was filed 27 days past a deadline established at the March 22 canvass, and that neither the county, district or state GOP had any right to adjudicate it.

-A declaration that neither the First District GOP nor the Republican Party of Virginia may compel the Fauquier County Republican Committee to administer loyalty oaths to all voters, unless and until the Republican Party of Virginia amends its Plan of Organization to require otherwise.

-An order to stop a new election in place of the March 22 canvass.

Rich didn’t mince words when describing the faction of the party that has ignored so many rules of the Party Plan:

Rich said he believes Republican leaders simply did not like the choices made by voters in Fauquier in March, especially resenting Russell’s chairmanship.

“I don’t consider them conservatives, they are extremists. It is highly ironic that they are criticizing President Obama for failure to follow the U.S. Constitution and federal law, and they completely ignore our party rules in order to get the results they want. They are intent on holding power in the party and they could care less what happens.”

In wake of those taking control of the party the past several years to run far right candidates, the Fauquier lawsuit signals a push-back by the more centrist, pragmatic Republicans.

The Times-Dispatch further explained:

Republicans in Fauquier, a county firmly in GOP hands, held the canvass March 22. In the election for chairman, Scott T. Russell defeated Cameron L. Jones by 206 votes out of 1,206 cast, court records show.

On April 27, Jones contested the election – 27 days after the deadline established by the rules for the canvass – on the grounds that an unknown number of Democrats may have voted in the canvass without being required to sign written loyalty oaths renouncing their affiliation with the Democratic Party and pledging to support all of the Republican nominees in the general election on Nov. 4.

The Fauquier GOP rejected Jones’ challenges because he had filed after deadline and because the RPV’s official rules do not require such loyalty oaths from voters.

The state party’s so-called Plan of Organization has established that loyalty oath requirements are not mandatory and are up to the particular party unit that is holding the election.

In Fauquier, Republicans usually do not ask their voters for such oaths, and it was not part of the rules for the canvass that the county Republican committee had passed unanimously prior to the election, Rich said.

“We’ve followed the same rules for more than 20 years. We’re inclusive, and a lot of people find that oath offensive. We don’t mind Democrats converting. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with President (Barack) Obama right now and we think it’s OK if people return home to the party if they have been away,” Rich said.

“Ronald Reagan once was a Democrat and we wouldn’t have turned him away when he voted Republican for the first time.”

In recent years, Virginia Republicans have done away with the pledges in statewide elections, including the 2012 presidential election and in primaries for Senate and House races.

RPV Chairman Pat Mullins announced in 2012 that he was “very pleased” to let voters know “that the Republican Party of Virginia has informed the State Board of Elections that the loyalty oath will be rescinded.”

Yet Mullins declined to make a comment to the reporter about this issue.

Meanwhile, Jones, the candidate who lost the chairman position, agreed to omitting the loyalty oath — until he lost — and then used it to protest. Then his name was found as a participant in a 2009 Democratic priamry:

[Jones] also denied having voted Democratic himself, after it became known his name was found on a voter roll of a 2009 Democratic primary.

“I have addressed that issue with the commonwealth attorney. I told him that someone committed voter fraud and voted under my name. There is really not much I can do about it,” he said.

While the lawsuit is pending, Scott Russell, the man who won the election, is being held on the sidelines while Kevin Carter serves as interim chairman.

Read the entire article at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The lawsuit can be seen here.

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3 thoughts on “Fauquier GOP sues RPV and 1st District over tossed-out election

  1. […] Fauquier GOP sues RPV and 1st District over tossed-out election by Lynn R. Mitchell […]

  2. […] State Central’s rulings made no sense and left the Committees with no recourse. Fauquier County has already filed a law suit against RPV (see Fauquier GOP sues RPV and 1st District over tossed-out election). […]

  3. […] State Central’s rulings made no sense and left the Committees with no recourse. Fauquier County has already filed a law suit against RPV (see Fauquier GOP sues RPV and 1st District over tossed-out election). […]

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