Part 2: RPV and a Theoretical View of a Coup D’état – Does It Succeed or Fail?
Part 2: Failure of Reciprocity and the Cut of Karma … But It’s Something Else
“…and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people”… -George Washington, 1796 Farewell Address
I will go back to the incident that was responsible for all of the outcomes I am explaining in this series because in my opinion, the frayed edges of that cut are still hurting the party today. And while I know that to most people this is way old news, I am attempting to present it from a different view that uses the past to hopefully instruct the future.
But everything in due course; one rift at a time.
Before we go down that road, I think it is important to explain why Karma is indeed … a bitch.
So after the 2013 election, there was plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking going on that I do not need to rehash here. That election was over and that damage was done … but the real damage, foreseen by precious few, was yet to come….
Needless to say, 2014 was by many standards more significant than 2013 with the possible exception of the slating in the LG race in 2013. There were nominations and contests (and contests and appeals of those contests) during the spring that should have foreshadowed what was to come. Before I can even reference the 2014 rifts, there is a practice you need to understand that has been abused more often than not during this time.
What is “slating”? John Hardy Wilson explained it very well, so I thought I would borrow his words.
“Slating is a term describing the act of electing a preferential slate of delegates to a party convention of those who favor the candidate of the electorate present at the Republican mass meeting for that locality.
“… The unit holds a mass meeting, party canvass, or county convention in order to elect delegates to the nominating convention. The call is put out to alert all the Republicans in the area to attend the mass meeting to participate in the election of delegates, and party officials who will be in charge of laying the infrastructure for our party’s nominees. In cases where the unit committee chooses not to include language in its call that guarantees automatic election to everyone who files, it is within the purview of those in attendance at the mass meeting, canvass, or convention to select candidates that represent their views…” (emphasis added)
In other words, if I support candidate A and you support candidate B, the nominee will be decided by whoever is able to get the most supporters to a mass meeting, and whoever has the lesser number of people will see their supporters assigned as alternates only. Alternates only get a vote if delegates don’t show up at the convention. It is my opinion that the ability to slate is the real reason most pro-convention people are pro-convention … it gives them more control. It is sort of like an engaged couple trying to finalize a list of wedding guests, when daddy has limited the guest list to 500 … but the kids have 1,000 people on their list.
I am going to link to a few examples, but all of the details would require a book. And because many of you already know the story, there is no need to reinvent the wheel; I’ll link to previous coverage. The issues with Campbell County are … intricate enough to require more than one link
This list is not exhaustive of the issues, but between January and August of 2014, the various rifts were putting incredible strain on the marriage … and that is being kind to the situation. At the August meeting of the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee, there were FIVE appeals on the agenda related to this mess. The attached minutes will give you an idea of the sheer nightmare they were dealing with. The appeals begin on page 5.
Mike Thomas’ Words of Warning That Were Not Heeded
I cannot do justice to the level of injustice that happened that year. But I managed to find a post that could have only been written by one person, Mike Thomas. During that tumultuous time, he wrote in part:
“No committee or convention can seat as a delegate someone who was not first elected as a delegate by their local mass meeting, party canvass, or convention.
“Unless, that is, you ignore the Party Plan and attempt to do it anyway. Unless you cheat.
“If this happens, and if the State Central Committee were to uphold this, thus setting the precedent of it being okay to ignore the Party Plan as long as you have the votes on a given committee, the consequences for the RPV and indeed for the future of conventions would be enormous and disastrous.
“Consider these possibilities, because there is no difference. None. Why bother with holding a mass meeting at all if your District Committee is going to elect the delegates it wants anyway? Why should prefiling not be ignored, too? While at it, why stop with convention delegates? Are the votes not there on the District Committee to sustain an appeal? No problem, we’ll just add a few members and give them a vote. Or, we’ll just ‘fire’ one of the officers who doesn’t support the appeal.
“If we are willing to throw one part of the Party Plan out the door, where does it stop? And on what basis do we then demand our rights to a contest or appeal under the same Party Plan we have already disregarded?”
Mr. Thomas wrote that piece on April 25, 2014. It seems as if Mr. Thomas had a crystal ball … looking to the near future as well as the present day from the past. His words were a warning that should have been heeded, like the words of a wise counselor trying to point out and repair the various rifts that tear apart a marriage. Unfortunately, those who needed to understand the points he made, didn’t, as evidenced above.
But in addition to those issues, I decided to place a different incident separate and apart from the rest due to the direct foreshadowing effect it had, along with an unbelievable example of why it’s important to really vet candidates.
7th Congressional District Convention
The now infamous 7th District Convention was held on May 10, 2014, but the political games and strategic planning had been going on for some time.
The Chair of the 7th District was Linwood Cobb. He had been the chair for several years, and ran the district well. He was also a VIP in Congressman Eric Cantor’s campaign world. But in 2014, many people in the GOPu* universe thought the environment was ripe for a change in the 7th CD leadership. There were various groups and individuals alike who felt they were not welcome or listened to by Mr. Cobb and Congressman Cantor. They managed to recruit someone to challenge Mr. Cobb … Mr. Fred Gruber.
Dave Brat was challenging Congressman Cantor in a June Primary.
Prior to the 7th CD Convention, Mr. Gruber was the leader of the Louisa Tea Party and he was active in the state Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation. He ran on a platform to unite the district and inclusivity. More importantly, IMHO … he was a strong supporter of Congressman Cantor’s primary opponent, Mr. Brat.
Long story short, at the end of the day Mr. Gruber won the 7th CD Convention in 2014. The GOPu had worked very hard throughout the different mass meetings and their work (while in hindsight could be seen as divisive in its own right) paid off. The Central Virginian reported on how the surprising outcome was accomplished:
“After filing his candidacy earlier this year, Gruber, who is a leader of the Louisa VA Tea Party and is active in the Tea Party Patriots Federation, traveled all over the district to deliver his message. He gave nearly 20 presentations focusing on his efforts to engage the grassroots constituency. One of his primary goals as chairman is to identify the leaders of all the various factions, along with all 10 Republican district chairs, and bring them to the table to form a leadership council to generate ideas to improve the party.
“With the leadership council’s help, Gruber wants to set and prioritize goals, and visit all 10 GOP units, the nine Tea Party units and five conservative women’s groups to share what was discussed and hear their views on the priorities to get an addendum.
“ ‘The power is in the people as the grassroots constituency, and we can do it,’ became Gruber’s mantra throughout his campaign, and he carried that message to the convention floor.
“Jamie Radtke, a Tea Party activist who lost the Republican nomination for Senate to George Allen in 2012, spoke on Gruber’s behalf during the convention. ‘Fred Gruber will unite the 7th District … and positively grow our votes at the polls,’ Radtke said.”
But it was not the moonlight and roses moment for very long. Shortly after his victory, Mr. Gruber found himself with a scandal of his own. It appears that Mr. Gruber might have been under the impression that serving as Chair of the 7th CD paid actual benefits.
Mr. Gruber had called a meeting of the 7th CD for June 26. In the call was “budget” but no budget had been provided to the members … until the night of the meeting. And for all the “united” messaging during the campaign, Mr. Gruber proposed to give the other candidates’ campaigns … nothing. Not one cent. BUT he did propose:
“Gruber proposed to spend almost a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS alone hiring a staff for the 7th District Committee. For just 4 months. There was no money for any offices, no job description for anyone hired, and no plan presented for managing his staff.
“The salary proposed by Gruber for field staff for a congressional district was more than field staffers make for statewide campaigns.
“Yes, the Gruber plan called for a contract salary of $3,500 per month for each individual, along with $3,000 per month – per individual – for travel and meal expenses. Plus, there was another $2,000 per month, per individual, for their telephone and Internet expenses.”
The Gruber budget continued:
“There was also another $60,000 allotted for direct mail and paid telephone calls, including robocalls.”
As I am presenting these events, a walk down memory lane, even now all I can think of is …
This reminded me of every cliché I had ever heard with a, “He’s rich and she’s handsome,” situation, only in reverse. There are reasons for this trip down memory lane (other than the glaring problem of a Tea Party darling proposing to spend this much money) that will be clear before the end of this series.
Many a marriage has ended because of money but in this case, the committee (Mr. Donald Williams in particular) had more experience with these issues than their chairman did … so they fixed it. The 7th CD Committee reallocated the budget properly, funded that which needed funding, and still maintained a healthy $85,000.00 in the account.
But I must back up a week or so, especially when considering the thought of experience in politics. Because on June 10, 2014, as you all know, the political world upended itself. The impossible happened. Time stood still.
Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor.
BUT I will submit … not for all the same reasons every other political junkie thinks. As Part 3 will explain, our party marriage had, and is still suffering, a constant aftershock from … adultery. The Coup had already begun….
*GOPu is my term for the “ultra” conservative faction of the party. GOPr is my term for “regular” old fashioned Republicans.