Cantor, Bolling, Cuccinelli, Howell purged from local GOP committees

The Commonwealth’s top cop has been kicked off his local Republican committee.

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General, was purged from the membership after endorsing Republican-turned-Independent candidate Delegate Bill Janis who left the Party to run against the Republican nominee for Henrico commonwealth’s attorney. At that time, Cuccinelli was quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Cuccinelli said political affiliation has little to do with decisions made by local leaders, nor should it get in the way of selecting, or endorsing, the best candidate in a race.

“I’m a Republican because I fit better there, but it’s not the reason for my being, politically,” he said.

Janis, a popular legislator who has served in House leadership for years and is the current Republican Whip, decided to run for commonwealth’s attorney after the vetted Republican candidate, Matthew Geary, was deemed by some to be unsuitable for the position.

Cuccinelli was in good company with other top Virginia Republicans who had endorsed Janis and found themselves facing removal due to a Republican Party of Virginia bylaw. U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, and Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell were all purged from their Republican committees.

The way the bylaw reads, any other elected officials or Republican activists who endorse Janis can also be removed from their respective GOP committees.

That may be an issue for Lacey Putney, a long-time Independent who has caucused with Republicans for over 20 years, and who has found himself in a similar situation this year after Republicans put up a  contender against him. His colleagues and long-time supporters, some who hold leadership positions in the GOP and who have been donors to his campaign, have found themselves caught in the middle. Putney also faces a Democrat in that race so there is the question of whether Republicans may lose a seat that has been GOP-friendly for years.

The automatic removal rule can be reversed by local committees who need a two-thirds vote to reinstate ousted members. For Cantor, Bolling, Cuccinelli, and Howell, that may not come until after the elections.

Ironically, today is Bill Janis’ birthday but some are hesitant to send him public birthday wishes because of the rule, wondering if it would be declared a “public endorsement” of an Independent.

Facebook discussion was lively Friday evening when news got out of the removals of  the four high-ranking Republican leaders. “This will probably happen to me one day,” read one response. Another wrote, “Dear RPV: Please amend this rule to allow exceptions. It’s a great rule in principle but the Janis race shows what happens when the wrong candidate is nominated and people must take stands of principle.”

Someone else commented, “I think they need to get rid of that rule entirely. Many times there are candidates who just aren’t trustworthy and to tell someone they have to vote against their interests or leave the party is just crazy.”

Meanwhile, the news has traveled. Blogs — those on the left and those on the right — have picked up on the action as well as the Washington Post, UPI, Live Wire, and others, and news of the removals didn’t escape Twitter.

Even the Dallas Morning News headlined it online along with the Toronto Star, and Roland Martin Reports. Others across the country reposted the Washington Post article including iStock Analyst, News in Politics, and Political News Network.

Virginia’s elections will be held on November 8th.

Cross-posted at

  • LittleDavid


    Maybe what you and the rest need to do is to become Democrats. Not just any Democrat, but Blue Dogs. Virginia’s Democratic Party could use more people like you so I do not feel so lonely over here.

  • These local GOP’s deserve to be made famous. Time for Tea bagging some local GOP committees. If enough conservatives get involved and gather enough support we can replace these idiots. This kind of crap is why I do not yet belong to a local party.. er, political social club. Any GOP social club brainy enough to throw Cooch under the wagon must not have the bright minds the party needs. If the RPV has a spine the leadership will ask the chair of these nimrods to either reinstate the “offending” member or to resign.

  • It’s the rules of the Republican Party Turbo. The only way to change this is to change the rules. There are others who will be supporting Janis and don’t care if they get kicked out of the Party.

    This happened here in Virginia Beach, remember?

  • I’m not sure I get this right. Geary was the nominee, but then the GOP committee disowned him because he had an affair, and recruited Janis, but Janis failed to qualify as Republican candidate because of the timing. Then the same committee disowned every Republican office holder they wanted to support Janis because Janis was not the official nominee. Do I have this right? And this is supposed to pass for leadership?

  • Darrell

    So is a retiring GA type running for Commonwealth Attorney the same thing as one running for Sheriff?

    Is this really a story about insiders endorsing a good ole boy’s attempt to pad his retirement pay?

  • Darrell it happens on both sides of the fence but I don’t think so in this case. Too many people are willing to get kicked out of their party to support him. It must be principle in this case.

  • I can’t say that I like this rule, either, Turbo–there have been several independent, conservative candidates I’ve preferred for local offices over the official Republican nominees–but just to play devil’s advocate, isn’t it important for a cohesive party (which you need to win an election) to have some mechanism to ensure party loyalty?

  • Henry Ryto

    The Party Rules are the Party Rules. Were an unit committee backbencher to do the same thing, they’d be gone in nothing flat. The same rules should apply to the electeds evenly.

    Here in Virginia Beach, our previous Sheriff publicly sat on the fence for a House of Delegates race in which a Republican incumbent (John Welch) was being challenged by a Demonrat (Bobby Mathieson), then actually endorsed Mark Warner for U.S. Senate.

  • Tim J

    The current sheriff was trying to do the same thing by endorsing Ralph Northam… until it went viral in the Party.

  • Darrell

    “I’m a Republican because I fit better there, but it’s not the reason for my being, politically,” he said.

    Maybe the rank and file ideologues should take their cue from Cooch. There is the incumbent protection team, then there is the party. The scam plays out by ‘retiring’ from the GA then running for a high retirement pay position. Even if it means knocking out an up and coming party politician. That’s how the GOP eats its own. The infidelity is just a smoke screen from the back room boys.

  • Whit

    This is a very interesting standard. There is always the possibility that elected officials, former and active, higher-up the foodchain have their own fidelity issues that for one reason or another have not gotten media play. It could damage the party and the conservative message should such a standard be set for the good ole boys and another for volunteers in the local committees. That could cause disillusionment and drive someone to help the media confirm such stories. In such a scenario, it would seem like a poor strategy to force such an issue as this with the local committees.

  • Fine display of the absurdity of “party loyalty” as a first principle.

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