By Lynn R. Mitchell
Three Virginia House of Delegates members — Dickie Bell, Rob Bell, and Ben Cline — appear to have passively endorsed a lawsuit that was brought against the 24th Senate District (represented by State Senator Emmett Hanger) by endorsing the re-election of the tea party-leaning GOP chairman who voted for the lawsuit.
The endorsement was announced in an email distributed on Friday, five days before the filing deadline for others who may have been interested in the chair position.
The lawsuit, changing the statute to require a convention, thus removing the incumbents’ choice of re-election nomination (primary, firehouse primary, caucus, etc), was struck down by the courts in 2015 but is now under appeal.
If the delegates like the idea of having only conventions and doing away with primaries for the state party, perhaps they should step to the plate and write a bill to have it passed in the General Assembly instead of tacitly supporting renegade groups like the 24th legislative committee, and allowing them to tie up the Republican Party with lawsuits.
More precisely, why are the three delegates supporting Staunton Chairman Matt Fitzgerald, who voted to move the lawsuit forward and runs with Waynesboro Chairman Ken Adams who spearheaded the entire thing that was backed by anonymous consultants and financiers from other areas of the Commonwealth? This lawsuit, filed in the tumultuous 6th Congressional District represented by Bob Goodlatte, may hurt future elections and the Republican Party. By always requiring conventions, there would be no primaries, thus disenfranchising other voters such as military members, the elderly, families with small children, long distances to travel, and employees who cannot get a day off work. (Absentee ballots are not allowed for conventions but are allowed for primaries.)
Fitzgerald was also part of an anti-Goodlatte group who secretly met to plan the hijacking of the hours-long, hostile 6th District meeting in December. Yet he received the endorsement of not only the delegates but others. See the Fitzgerald endorsement email here.
For those who wish to participate in the Staunton Republican Committee mass meeting to be held on February 18 at 7:00pm at the Staunton Public Library, a prefile form is required and must be received by February 15. The Staunton Republican Committee website has not been updated since March 2015 but the information was found at the 6th District website.
UPDATE: On February 12 and 17, 2016, emails were sent to all three delegates to ask about their endorsements. As of February 23, no answers have been received. We realize they are in session in RVA so will send a follow-up email to the first two.