By Lynn R. Mitchell
[This is the original post from Tuesday night’s Bearing Drift live-blog in Powhatan.]
Incumbent chairman and tea party-Russ Moulton Fellowship member Pat McSweeney will be challenged tonight by Republican volunteer and activist Jean Gannon who has been involved with the Republican Woman as well as the Powhatan GOP committee.
6:15: Voters are arriving for the meeting that will begin at 7pm.
6:45: Poor set-up to check in. People are lined up all the way to the front door and there’s only one check-in table for everyone. At this rate, this meeting won’t get started until way late. I can’t help but think if Jean were chair, this would be running much faster. I was bounced back and forth, told I had to sign in as a visitor, then told to get in one line, then the other, then back to the first, and then told I needed a sticker. It was totally confusing and never did get resolved. Jean took charge and got me in.
We’re hearing the plan is to run the meeting as long as possible to discourage people from voting. Why do we have to continue to have these tactics?
Chesterfield County last night had five tables set up and labeled with alphabets for last names, running folks through in a quick and orderly fashion. It was a firehouse primary/caucus so all that voters had to do was sign in, vote, and leave — the same process used on election day. The process took all of 5-10 minutes for most participants.
6:55: No wonder the auditorium is still mostly empty. People were lining up in the hallway at 5:30 when I got here. It’s almost 7 and the line is still stretched down the hallway.
7pm: Time to begin the meeting and there are approximately 100 people lined up in the hall out to the door waiting to sign in. There’s about 100 in the auditorium and it took an hour to get these people in so we may be looking at an 8pm start time.
7:05pm: Good to see so many familiar faces right here next-door to my home county of Chesterfield and we’re in Mr. Mitchell’s home county of Powhatan. Registration is continuing outside….
John Findlay from RPV is on the premises.
7:10pm: Still registering people.
Saturday I had technical difficulties with the live-blogging but hopefully that won’t happen tonight.
I’m hearing AG candidate John Adams is in the hallway.
Mike Thomas, First Vice Chair of RPV, is here (Chesterfield). Donald Williams (former Chesterfield chairman). Fay Williamson, Marie Quinn, and a number of the Chesterfield folks are here to support Jean. Karen Wooten is helping her good friend Jean.
7:25pm: People are still waiting in line to register.
Alec Thomas is here as well as Sara Allison and Martha Crosby. Suzanne Obenshain is working the crowd — running for national committeewoman.
7:35pm: MEETING BEGINS – The meeting has been gaveled to order.
Congressman Dave Brat is speaking.
Good to see Jerry Baldwin, elected chairman of Chesterfield County Republican Committee during last night’s caucus/firehouse primary, and Tracy Seredni, newly elected vice chair of Chesterfield County (at last night’s firehouse primary).
NOMINATIONS: Nominations are now open for temporary chair.
Pat McSweeney thought that ignoring RPV general counsel when he was the general counsel at RPV was grounds for removal of a chair; yet tonight he reportedly has said he will ignore a ruling from RPV about tonight’s meeting and thinks that’s okay.
Counting is going on for temporary chair….
7:50: Jean Gannon’s choice for temporary chair – Kirby Burch — has been elected.
McSweeney’s group is demanding the Call be read even though it was voted to not read it. Some unidentified man is saying it is required to read it at a mass meeting. Slow-down tactics?
7:55: So even though the meeting was 30 minutes late getting started, we are now sitting through the reading of the Call.
8:00: Diane Foster has been appointed temporary secretary.
Mike Thomas has been appointed parliamentarian.
Committees have been appointed, and the same man who required the Call be read has already indicated there will be challenges, possibly to voters who are here for Jean Gannon. The reindeer games have begun and we may be here for hours. Delay tactic?
Committees have adjourned to meet and now the speeches from candidates for state central, delegate, and other are being heard.
Suzanne Obenshain had positive remarks and gave her reasons for running. Now I’m again listening to Cynthia Dunbar quote Patrick Henry again as she did in Bedford on Saturday.
Father and son on the stage … Alec Thomas is giving his remarks for his candidacy for state central while Mike is at the parliamentarian table.
8:20: As the speeches continue, McSweeney has gone into the hallway with some of his followers.
Attorney General candidates Rob Bell and John Adams spoke.
8:32: Recognition of local public officials: supervisors, sheriff, deputies.
Recognition of Delegate Lee Ware.
8:45: Mr. Burch just announced there is a delay (surprise) with the credentials committee because Pat McSweeney is challenging many of the voters here for Jean Gannon. Delay tactic?
The school’s lighting technician who is beside me in the lighting booth just asked how much longer this will go. He was told by the McSweeney organizers it would be from 7-9:00. I told him we haven’t even begun voting yet and who knows when that will begin. It sounded as if he was going to have to “text the boss” to let him know there may be a delay on the original time.
8:50: Still waiting….
8:55: Credentials: Four observers for McSweeney are challenging over 100 voter forms one by one. This is absolutely ridiculous. This is what gives a dirty name to politics. You have older folks who cannot sit for hours — we are now TWO HOURS into this meeting and we haven’t even gotten the credentials report.
9:00: How did Henrico County have nearly 700 people in their recent mass meeting and be finished by 9:00? Tonight we have a little over 200 people and some are beginning to feel they should have brought their sleeping bags. The meeting is a standstill with folks milling around waiting … waiting … waiting.
Pat McSweeney is a lawyer and former general counsel for RPV. You would have though he would have had a better-run meeting but he is going to use every delay tactic and every weapon in his arsenal.
9:05: Still waiting….
9:10: Credentials Committee is ready to report (we’re being told).
I heard someone say this was the biggest travesty they had ever seen in decades of mass meetings.
CREDENTIALS REPORT: 248 individuals registered (100+ were being challenged by McSweeney). The report now has to be voted on to be accepted.
The same man who made the other motions/requiring reading of Call has now made an unrelated motion in the middle of trying to accept the Credentials Committee report. There’s a motion already on the floor.
Now voting to accept Credentials Report (ayes clearly have it by show of hands).
Now counting nays.
Counting … the motion to accept the Credentials Report has been accepted by the body (117 aye / 76 no).
RULES COMMITTEE: Rules Chairman reading the rules. Accepted unanimously.
9:22: Credentials Committee reports two candidates for chairman: Jean Gannon and Patrick McSweeney. Accepted.
Patrick McSweeney is first. He made a motion to suspend the rules. It was voted down. He proposed a voice vote for chairman. It was voted down but the rules have been suspended to move forward to voting.
Jean Gannon just stood to speak and the place erupted in prolonged cheers. (The shenanigans of the night have not escaped the attention of those attending.) Jean is waiving her 3 minutes to speak so we can move forward with the vote since it is getting late.
Voting is about to begin.
I just heard another person say she has never seen anything like this before. Someone else remarked it’s a disaster.
Voting by ballot has now commenced.
9:40: The delay tactics appear to have hurt McSweeney. Jean’s people have stayed. Since he most likely has lost, he will most likely appeal. That’s the way they do it.
10:00: Still voting. My corner has become the Chesterfield section — all these friendly familiar faces.
10:10: I have learned the gentleman on the McSweeney team who kept calling out motions, demanded reading of the Call, etc., was former Powhatan Supervisor Barry Hodge who lost his election last November.
10:12: Mr. Burch is thanking everyone for coming out tonight. There are about 100 people still here, mostly Jean supporters. Everyone else is waiting to hear the results.
10:15: Credentials Chair is speaking. Proud to announce the voting:
Jean’s supporters let our a rousing cheer that just about raised the roof on the building.
CONGRATULATIONS, JEAN GANNON!
This was the poster child of how you don’t run mass meetings. Good-night!
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 5, 2016