Important Info From RPV Chairman Jack Wilson
By Jack Wilson
Chairman, Republican Party of Virginia
You have likely received an email from Scott Wyatt regarding the 97th House District Nominating process among many other pieces of information sent out. As Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia I understand that there are times that activists and even candidates become emotional and say things about me that upon reflection they regret. In most instances I ignore the comment. However, in this instance Mr. Wyatt attacked my integrity and that I cannot allow to go unchallenged.
In his email Mr. Wyatt contends that I acted “inappropriately, blatantly tipping the scales.” He goes on to challenge my neutrality and suggests I have disenfranchised voters. He is wrong.
Before I fully explain, it is important to understand why we as a Party find ourselves in this situation and why I think Scott Wyatt has chosen to lash out at the Party instead of focusing on the office he is running for currently. To summarize, the May 4th convention has been cancelled by the 97th Legislative District. Any event to be held this Saturday will be a Scott Wyatt event, NOT a Party-sanctioned election.
Our Party operates under our governing document the Party Plan as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. Under the Plan, a legislative district committee chooses between a State-run primary and several Party-run processes to select our nominees. The voting on these committees is done based on the Republican vote in each locality in a district. In the 97th, Hanover carries 62% of the vote with the rest split between New Kent and King William. The legislative district committee elected Mr. Thomas Miller as the Chair for the 97th Committee. However, Mr. Miller does not actually have a vote on the committee.
As Chair of the State Party we committed to ensure a successful process from Day 1. Party staff had an hour and forty-minute conference call with Chairman Miller at the onset of the process in attempt to ensure he understood the convention and all of his responsibilities. I, our legal counsel, and staff answered numerous emails, observed every single mass meeting, and even helped to hand enter delegate information into a spreadsheet so all campaigns would have an equal opportunity to have access to the that data. More man hours have been put into this process by RPV staff than any other convention below the Congressional District level in our Party’s history.
Under Chairman Miller, the committee selected a convention for the 97th district. However, 62% of the vote, a clear majority, was cast by a proxy for Hanover County represented by Scott Wyatt. A similar majority was used to pass the convention call for the meeting. Despite his claims of adhering to the Party Plan, Scott Wyatt was actually REMOVED from his position on the district committee for failing to disclose a conflict of interest: RUNNING FOR THE OFFICE HE WAS VOTING ON! An article in the paper going over this fact is found here.
The proposed convention immediately ran into challenges. The 97th committee went against RPV advice and set a delegate limit too low. The committee’s decision is why over 350 people out of roughly 1700 are “alternates” and may not have been able to vote if the convention were held. Due to the actions the 97th district committee, the 97th House district would be the only location in the ENTIRE country in the past 7 YEARS where you could be a qualified Republican voter, have made plans to attend a nominating event, and STILL not be able to vote in Republican nominating process at the legislative level. While it is legal under the Plan, it isn’t right and could have been avoided. The 97th district, under the leadership of Chairman Miller voted to create a process which voters were disenfranchised.
Also, in their preparations, the 97th district committee chose Hanover High School on May 4th, the same day as the SATs were being administered! The initial reservation predicted only 600 attendees and was not put under the committee name but was actually put under “Friends of Scott Wyatt.” Chairman Miller only informed the school system of the changed attendance within the last week which resulted in the school indicating they could not handle a convention of that size while also serving as a host site for the SATs.
Despite the issues with the process, I instructed RPV staff to work with the LDC to explore an alternate venue so that the convention could still go forward. To that end, RPV staff and the LDC, along with representatives of the 2 campaigns, toured Atlee High School on Tuesday morning. While some concerns about logistics were raised, it appeared that it might be a viable alternate site. Questions needed to be answered, but contingency plans could progress. Again, I told RPV staff to assist in any way possible to ensure the convention could be held.
That leads us to the LDC meeting on Wednesday evening, less than 72 hours before the start of the convention. Not less than an hour before that meeting commenced, I again implored the LDC members who had expressed concerns to me to explore all options to make sure the convention could occur. I suggested, however, that they keep a keen eye on 2 issues.
First, the process needed to make sure no more delegates got disenfranchised (that has already happened because the LDC Chairman disregarded the advice of RPV staff when setting the number of delegates in the convention call).
Second, they should be comfortable that the logistics of the convention could be carried out. Too often the problems surrounding conventions (lack of seating, lack of parking, lack of food, lengthy lines at credentials, etc.) create frustration in the people that are our party’s strongest activists and they turn away from the process. Shifting the location of a convention with less than 72 hours from convening gave me pause. Nonetheless, I encouraged the LDC members I spoke with to do all they could to get comfortable that the convention could go forward. I believe they went to the LDC meeting on Wednesday in that spirit.
I did not attend the LDC meeting. I did, however, watch a full recording of it. I encourage you to do the same by following this link. The LDC is seated at a table. For reference Chairman Miller, who has no ability to vote is on the far left. To Miller’s right is New Kent rep- Mark Daniel with roughly 24% of the vote, followed by the King William rep- John Hubbard with roughly 14% of the vote, and finally by the Hanover rep who casts 62% of the vote. The video runs roughly 25 minutes.
What you will see is that any attempt to discuss the logistics of the convention, the costs of the convention, the process of the convention and any other questions regarding the preparations were quashed and ruled out of order by Tom Miller. The Chairman refused to appoint a Parliamentarian for the meeting. That alone raises red flags in my mind. After repeated attempts to get information about the convention, details apparently known only to the LDC Chairman and the Wyatt campaign, the LDC Chairman, in violation of Robert’s Rules of Order, angrily gavels and says the meeting is adjourned.
A rudimentary knowledge of Robert’s Rules reveals that a motion must be made to adjourn and it takes a majority vote to do so. In fact, watching the video of the meeting shows that motions to adjourn were made, but voted down. Seeing that the Chairman did not have the votes he decided to leave. That, however, does not end the meeting. I have always viewed the role of the Chairman to be a facilitator and not a dictator. On Wednesday night that was not followed.
After the Chairman left, a super majority of the LDC voted to cancel the convention and hold a canvas to nominate for the 97th House District. Again, I would have preferred that the convention proceed, but when the Chairman left and was not there to answer basic questions, I assume the LDC felt they had no alternative but to cancel. As the LDC, that is its prerogative. The Chairman of the LDC has no authority other than to call and oversee meetings. He has no vote. RPV was notified of the decision by the LDC and pursuant to the Party Plan removed the convention call from the website. Contrary to incorrect allegations, I did not cancel the convention nor did I replace the LDC Chairman. The LDC, by a 76% vote, cancelled the convention and Mr. Miller is still the Chairman of the 97th LDC.
The event on Saturday being advertised as a convention on Saturday will be a rally for Scott Wyatt. If you are a Wyatt supporter, it will likely be a fun event. However, it will not be a convention to choose a nominee for public office. It will be paid for by supporters of Scott Wyatt’s campaign, not the Party. If you want to vote for the Republican nominee for the 97th House of Delegates, I encourage you to be look for an upcoming Party canvass that will be formalized next Wednesday by the 97th LDC.
I am sorry you have been given confusing information. I am sorry the planning for the Convention was not properly handled. Despite this I encourage all of you to stay engaged in this process. The stakes this November are too high to quit. We must retain a majority in the House of Delegates and the State Senate. I assure you that whoever wins the nomination for the 97th House District will have the full support of me and the Republican Party of Virginia!
Jack R. Wilson III is Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. *Communication was sent with personal funds. No Party resources were expended in creating or sending this email.*