VPOD: John Whitbeck, Chairman, Republican Party of Virginia

John Whitbeck, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, joins the Virginia Politics On Demand podcast to talk about lessons learned from President Donald Trump, the status of the party and his expectations for the upcoming 2017 election.

Regarding lessons learned from 2016, Whitbeck discusses party unity, cohesion between the units, national organizations, and outside groups.

“One of the things we learned in 2016 with the interplay of the different campaigns, we had a lot of activity here in the [presidential] primary with Virginia as a contested state…and unity can be achieved more quickly if people feel like they’re being treated fairly,” he said.

He also spoke about the current impact of the president on party politics and campaigning. Specifically, he said President Donald Trump has “redefined” the way Americans access political news and information.

“[Trump] has given us a lot of tools and lessons for us at the state level on how to go around the mainstream media,” Whitbeck said.

“There is a concerted effort by many media outlets, not all media outlets, to outright lie;[to do] whatever they have to do to take our president down. The evidence is overwhelming.”

Whitbeck also discussed the process that RPV has in place for qualifying for the statewide primary ballot and stated unequivocally that the party will be behind the eventual nominees 100%. He explained why there was some confusion with some of the campaigns regarding their interpretation of Virginia law and some inaccurate information provided by the State Board of Elections, which is currently controlled by Democrats.

We also discussed forums and debates, the importance of campaigning by the statewide candidates, RPV’s fundraising and infrastructure development, a couple of the RPV’s new hires and its messaging, the upcoming General Assembly campaigns, redistricting, and more.

“Virginia is a toss-up state and the toss-up ends in 2017 if we don’t win these statewide races. We’re just not credible when we say Virginia is a purple or even a red state [if we don’t win],” he said lamenting the GOP 0-7 record in statewide races since 2012. “But if we do win, I think there is a credible argument that the tide has turned and people are starting to come back home to the Republican party…This year is everything.”