The Virginia delegates to the RNC convention who reportedly signed a petition aimed at changing their bound votes for Mitt Romney in support of Ron Paul did a disservice to the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) and have betrayed the members of their districts who elected them.
Video captured on the convention floor Tuesday night shows 6th District delegate Braedon Wilkerson of Lynchburg trying to lecture Governor Bob McDonnell about “disenfranchising” Ron Paul supporters. As the Washington Examiner described the situation, several “young Virginia delegates” who were “tied by state party rules to vote for Romney” wanted Gov. McDonnell to change Virginia’s vote count (46 for Romney and three votes for Ron Paul) during the roll call in which Romney officially became the presidential nominee.
As Gov. McDonnell rightly pointed out to Wilkerson, “We had a primary, it was 60-40. And under the rules, the way [the votes] are apportioned, this is the number I’ve got.”
The Examiner claims about a dozen delegates, unnamed in the report, bound to vote for Romney signed the petition. These are delegates who signed statements of intent to adhere to the RPV’s rules on delegate voting for presidential candidates in order to have the privilege of representing Virginia at the Republican National Convention. The rules are clear on the proportional allocation of delegates as determined by the March 2012 primary election. And the statement that each of these delegates signed is also very clear:
I am bound to cast my ballot, on the first ballot of voting for a candidate for President at the Republican National Convention, on a proportional basis as outlined in the resolution adopted by the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia on July 16, 2011 regarding the March 6, 2012 primary.
Thanks to Gov. McDonnell, the rogue delegates were not able to actually break the rules and vote against the Virginia primary winner Mitt Romney. But their express written intent to violate the Party rules is a shameful betrayal of those whom they were elected to represent, and of the RPV.
The Virginia delegation to the convention did lead the opposition to new RNC rules that could potentially disenfranchise grassroots activists, and that is to be applauded. There are many conservatives of differing stripes who are unhappy with the GOP leadership and are working to effect change within the Party ranks. It’s true that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” but our effort to reshape the Republican Party should not include dirty tricks that cause scandal and embarrassment, turning away those who might otherwise have our support. Those in our delegation who went to Tampa with an agenda to pull a stunt like they did Tuesday night should not be applauded for their convictions when it meant lying to the RPV and the people of their districts.
No matter the degree of passion for their favored candidate, this episode is unacceptable, and a stain on our state Party. Virginians should be careful to elect delegates with more integrity to represent our state and our state Party on the national stage in the future.
Adam Cassandra is the chairman of the Fauquier County Young Republicans and a member of the Fauquier County Republican Committee. Follow him on Twitter @adamcassandra