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'Hurting' Conservatives in Virginia's 5th District

Robert Hurt

To those who have followed the sordid details of Virginia’s 5th District Republican Chairman race in the past few months, the debacle reached a muddy crescendo on Saturday, May 17, at the District Convention in Hampden-Sydney.

The contentious race and torrid mass meetings left a trail of dirty, divisive politics, at the center of which is the controversial and unsavory practice of slating. Slating is a parliamentary maneuver that allows one side at a district convention to read off a list of names (called a slate) of people who will attend a state convention. The majority of meeting attendees then votes for those people on the slate to be the only delegates at the state convention. The minority of attendees at the district convention gets no proportional representation at the convention.

Slating is not the work of an individual, but requires the power and finances of the collective who are perched in high places. The practice of slating disenfranchises conservatives and denies the right and privilege of Party members to be elected delegates who can participate in the political process.

Slating is not considered illegal but has been seldom used in the past. In the 5th District proceedings, it denied many loyal, hard-working Republicans their right to vote at both district and state conventions. These candidates were uprooted by a slate of “party unknowns” who do not share conservative values, nor agree with Republican policies. In fact, some slated candidates were unveiled as Democrats, Independents, and left-leaning individuals. It is difficult to contemplate such back-room machinations can take place in the Republican Party, but the fiasco surely occurred with the help of power-mongers in both the 5th and 7th Congressional Districts.

Events unfolded in March when Jon Berkley, who served as both Charlotte County Republican Chairman and a 5th District Chairman candidate, rejected a number of pre-filed delegate forms at his own Charlotte Mass Meeting. Mr. Berkley alleged the forms had been submitted late and were ineligible, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. By his action and inaction, at least 18 pre-filed delegates were disqualified.

According to Jamie Radtke, former Senate candidate and writer for The Bull Elephant:

The Credentialing Committee of the Charlotte Mass Meeting was NEVER presented with ALL delegate forms for consideration. No motions or votes were taken or considered at the mass meeting regarding these questionable delegates.

Subsequent 5th District mass meetings reflected a similar strategy of “Remove and Replace.” An acute example of slating occurred on March 20 at the Campbell County Mass Meeting, where over 90 Republicans were denied the privilege of serving as delegates. The mass meeting was, once again, infiltrated with non-Republicans who successfully disenfranchised loyalists.

To fully comprehend the egregious actions against our own, even Mark Lloyd and his wife, Ann, as members of the Campbell County GOP, could not vote nor be delegates at a convention where Mark was running for Chairman! To his credit, Mark Lloyd radiated peace and harmony throughout what must have been torturous proceedings on Saturday. Many of Mark’s supporters believe he is the one candidate who could mend fences and lay the rail for new track. He will always represent, in this writer’s humble opinion, the candidate whose integrity rises above all the rest.

What puzzles many 5th District delegates is why Congressman Robert Hurt hand-picked the inexperienced and divisive Jon Berkley to the total exclusion of a proven candidate like Mark Lloyd? Congressman Hurt’s support was overt and generous. His staff ran Mr. Berkley’s campaign and wrote his campaign material for him. Congressman Hurt himself even paid a healthy sum of money for Mr. Berkley’s signs and campaign material – all with money from donors who thought they were contributing to “Robert Hurt for Congress.”

This sparked criticism from convention attendees as they observed the “Paid for by Robert Hurt for Congress” disclaimer on Jon Berkley’s campaign materials. Since the congressman appears to have a surplus in his campaign funds, perhaps he should exercise frugality in future campaign appeals.

In an undated letter to supporters, Congressman Hurt verbalized his expectations for 5th District Chair:

As we all know, elections have consequences, and every day we are reminded that the American people deserve better.” With this in mind, electing a new chair for Virginia’s Fifth District Republican Party is of vital importance. Our new chair must be committed to doing the hard work necessary to win elections – by supporting our outstanding local units in getting doors knocked and phone calls made. Our new chair must be committed to recruiting and supporting our Republican candidates at every level – without qualification. And our new chair must be committed to fostering trust and unity within the committee.

According to Congressman Hurt’s own requirements, Jon Berkley fell short the day he disenfranchised members of his own committee. With abounding disappointment over the 2013 gubernatorial race, conservatives have lost patience not only with the opposition, but also with the shoddy politics of their own. The fight reflects an internal party war, with civility markedly lacking at the convention; it was more like North vs. South in lieu of “We the People.”

The fetid tactics used by Berkley et al to deny Republicans their right of delegacy is beyond despicable. And, after an astonishing display of orchestrated proceedings, Ms. Radtke added a comment to her live blogging of the convention in thebullelephant.com:

Right after Berkley called for unity, their team, with Robert Hurt’s full blessing and support, called to strip the voting privileges of the conservative 5th District State Central Committee members who voted that the slating in Campbell County was illegal – after half the delegates had left. Most people had no idea what they were voting on.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back!

Two things are abundantly clear after Saturday’s 5th District Convention. Congressman:  Robert Hurt is intent on ruling the district with an iron fist, and there is no room at his table for conservatives and longtime loyal Republicans – even those that worked hard to elect him just two years ago.

This article first appeared in Fairfax Free Citizen on May 21, 2014.

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'Hurting' Conservatives in Virginia's 5th District

Well said, Evelyn - our 5th District was mostly unified prior to the Hurt/Berkley fiasco. Not sure where we go from here to repair the damage?

Jeffrey E. Knight
Washington, VA