Proud RINO: Putting Principles Over Party

In 2015, I was the Republican nominee for the special election for the House of Delegates for the 74th District against Joe Morrissey. In 2016, I worked hard to elect Governor John Kasich as President and, in that same year because of my principles, I declined to support Donald Trump and was vocal in my opposition to him and my support of Evan McMullin.

Now in 2018, after working hard for the statewide ticket in 2017, I have been informed that I am no longer a member of the Republican Party.

On Thursday night at the Henrico County Republican Committee when I was in the process of paying my $30 dues, I was pulled aside by Chairman Bryan Horn and asked to go outside for a conversation.  During our conversation Bryan stated that if I attempted to become a member again it would be challenged by two committee members, Richard Roberts and Mark Hile, because of my public stance against the GOP nominee for President in 2016.

Bryan said that I could either take the challenge in front of the entire committee or be at the meeting as a guest.  Since I was there to support Lauren Keiser, a visionary millennial leader within our party in her contested election for Vice Chair of Membership, I decided not to make a scene that could negatively affect her race, and informed Bryan that I would be there as a guest.

As the meeting progressed I was approached by Henrico County Committee member and Republican Party of Virginia Executive Director John Findlay. With party plan in hand, he asked if I had signed the Declaration and Statement of Qualifications form when I ran to be an at-large delegate, on behalf of John Kasich, to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which I replied yes.

At this point Mr. Findlay showed me this section of the Party plan, which I fully was aware of:

Article 1, Section A2
A voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four (4) years.

Mr. Findlay said it was clear that I would not be a member of the Republican Party of Virginia because I violated the section above in the party plan.

In 2016 I knew that I was violating this section of the Party Plan, because I put my principles over a political party when I stood in opposition to our Presidential nominee, someone I thought (and still think) was unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief and doesn’t support the values of the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan.

In a time where people are identifying less and less with the GOP, the party must look at expanding its numbers through an inclusion of divergent ideas, not contract itself into a corner of isolated ideology.

The rebuke to Republicans across the Commonwealth was on full display this past November when the Virginia GOP was shellacked at the ballot box, resulting in our House majority dwindling from 66 to 51, as well as getting swept in the three statewide races.

The Republican Party, in its move farther and farther to the right philosophically, has been on a purge since 2010. If you dared to speak out against the Tea Party faction you would be branded a RINO, castigated, and cast out.  As a result, we are seeing more people identifying less with the GOP.

The only reason we have any advantage in the General Assembly is because of the 2010 redistricting when Republicans gerrymandered districts to favor the GOP. In 2017 Republicans earned approximately 44 percent of the vote when it came to House of Delegates elections; however, the gerrymandering of 2010 produced barely 51 seats in the House.

The November 2017 election resulted in Republican Bob Thomas winning by only 82 votes in the 28th District, and saw 94th District Republican David Yancey win via a draw of names out of a fish bowl in that famous tied election. There were other close elections as well. This gerrymandering, which I oppose, has made Republicans more isolated, reducing the need to reach out to independent and undecided voters … the very people that we need to win statewide and expand the party.

The goal of a political party should to be to expand and grow. One way to not build a party is to kick out people when they put principals first. Just because someone is the nominee doesn’t mean they automatically deserve to have the vote of party members. It must be earned. Just look at the Alabama Senate race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

As a party, the GOP must reach out to younger voters in addition to minority voters, and not kick them out when, on philosophical and principle grounds, they stand in visible opposition to a nominee.

I am not a Democrat, I am not an Independent, but in the eyes of the Republican Party of Virginia and the Henrico County Republican Committee I am a RINO. I’m proud of that.