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Matt Colt Hall’s First Report from RPV Convention

It’s the first night of the 2016 Republican Party of Virginia Convention and Harrisonburg is flooded with thousands of Republicans. There has already been multiple rules committee fights, a State Central Committee meeting, a College Republican Federation of Virginia meeting, and multiple Hospitality Suites. 

Earlier in the day there was a State Central Committee meeting. I had planned to attend , however there was no internet service. Therefore, I could not liveblog. According to reports from the meeting [1], Delegate Mark Berg won his appeal to be duly seated as Chairman of the Fredrick County GOP. My colleague Rolin Reisinger [2] has a full play by play of the State Central Committee meeting on his twitter page. Rest assured that there will be more in the coming days on Bearing Drift about this issue.

Then, the real fight began in the Convocation Center at JMU. The election of the Temporary Chairman provided to be a complete circus. Someone was circulating this flier around the convention center. Basically stating that Trump supporters need to vote for former US Senate candidate Shak Hill for Temporary Chairman and vote Yes or No when the sign that said TRUMP YES or TRUMP NO was raised.

These decisions seemed rather odd. First off, Shak Hill is the state Co-Chairman for Ted Cruz [3]. Secondly, Trump staffer and former Virginia Tea Party Chairman Mark Lloyd announced from the podium that Mr. Trump was not supporting any candidate at the convention. A representative from the Cruz campaign followed suit.

Then, Mr. Lloyd announced from the podium that the TRUMP YES and TRUMP NO signs were not endorsed by the Trump campaign and that they “were illegal.” He then asked that all the signs with TRUMP YES and TRUMP NO be turned in at the podium so they could not be used.

These delays took a rather long time, but finally the convention began. The first fight of the day was over the temporary Chair of the Convention. Former US Senate candidate Shak Hill and 4th District Chairman Jack Wilson were announced as candidates. Wilson won by a voice vote, which then lead to a “division in the house” motion by former Hampton Roads Tea Party Chair Waverly Woods. Then there was a rising vote, which was won by Jack Wilson. This was a clear win for Chairman Whitbeck and his allies.

Afterward, there was an amendment to a rule that required that all candidates for the National Delegate position declare who they would support on a hypothetical second ballot at the National Convention. This rule passed. I and many other have supported this, because it is imperative to know who someone will support. [4]

Then came the adoption of the rules. There were effort to change the nominations rules that were advanced by Vince Haley and his allies.  For those of you unfamiliar, Mr. Haley announced his campaign for RPV Chair, then withdrew from the race, then jumped back in.  [5] Also, The Nominations Committee itself had already ruled Mr. Haley out of order.  [6] The votes today clearly favored Mr. Whitbeck, with multiple rules changes voted down by the convention. To the best of my knowledge, the only way that Mr. Haley can run at this point is if he has two-thirds of the delegates support a motion to suspend the rules.

Then it was off to the hospitality suite! There was one big room holding multiple suites. Jill Vogel, John Adams, Rob Bell, Bryce Reeves, Glenn Davis, AFP, and Donald Trump for President hosted suites in the Festivals Conference Center. RNC Committeewoman candidate Cynthia Dunbar was holding her suite offsite at the same time.

Tonight, it’s off to the Bearing Drift/ Next-GEN party at Wolfe Street Brewery! If you are at the convention, I hope to see you there!