Card: … and That’s Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

By Bill Card

On Saturday morning, April 9th, I attended the Republican Convention of the newly formed 7th Congressional District. While I was reunited with a lot of old friends, I did see a number of new folks as well. I had arrived far too early, but that turned out to be of value to this discussion.

A broken shoulder and subsequent replacement surgery spared me from serving on the Convention Committee, though now I wish I had had the opportunity – you’ll know why shortly.

As I waited for the event to start and tried to make myself useful, I was alerted to a couple of brewing issues:

-One of the candidates (Mr. Manship) for chairman didn’t really appear to live in the district and when he had signed his form declaring that he voted in the 7th, he wasn’t actually registered until several days later.

-As a result, there appeared to be a move afoot for a person sympathetic to Mr. Manship’s plight to try and replace the temporary chairman at the opening of the convention.

-It appeared that the plan was also to discard the stipulations in the Call and on the candidate form such that Mr. Manship could participate in the election of a new chairman, and,

-There was also said to be a plan to change the use of a weighted vote (from the Call) to just a simple vote of convention delegates (though that never materialized).

The first issue meant that Mr. Manship had not met the clearly stated requirements on the form he signed and certainly didn’t meet the spirit of the Call. The Nominations Committee met with the chairman candidates and unit chairs (or their representatives) to disclose the evidence and the decision that they were going to present to the Convention. The stage was set for a floor fight.

Fortunately, the guy who put together the rules and the Temporary Chairman were seasoned veterans and more than up to the task of keeping the Convention between the white line and the yellow one. It wasn’t pretty, but the short version is that the team that believed in rules won the first vote with 66 percent of the weighted vote (affirming the Temporary Chairman as Chair) and the second vote with 52% of the weighted vote (accepting the report of the Nomination Committee). With that vote, the “I don’t care about your rules” crowd (actual quote of a Manship supporter) had effectively lost their bid to take control of the convention.

The Call, the Party Plan, and the rules (adopted by the Convention by a voice vote) are specifically designed to prevent such a fiasco. Now normally I would have left things there. The good guys won, and the naughty guys lost – end of story, right? No, not hardly. For the very first time in my experience with the Party, a candidate vying for public office decided to enter the fray of a Party contest. Pretty dumb – right? Yeah – I thought so too.

With the Chairman contest concluded, the next order of business was to hear from the seven (7) candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 7th District. But that’s not what happened. Instead, there was a noisy and ridiculous parade of discontented Manship voters who sauntered across the front of the Convention and out the door.

Two days later, David Ross released a dishonest and incendiary press release that stated (among other untruths), “5 people disenfranchised hundreds,” and “two of my establishment opponents were also behind this steal.” Shame on him, after telling us that he was a “born-again Christian” and that it governed his every move (or words to that effect). I guess he hadn’t heard of the 9th Commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”).

But the most hilarious part of it all was this statement: “I [Ross] was a delegate – and I led over half the delegates at the convention to walk out in protest over the steal.”

Actually, the leader of the exodus was a lady on a motorized wheelchair, not David Ross. However, regardless of who led, Mr. Ross himself returned to speak to the delegates that remained! Yes – you got that right, he was incensed enough to walk out, but he popped right back to step up to the microphone to speak. The practical result of his actions was that he deprived those folks that he “led” out of the gym the opportunity to hear from all the candidates – was that by design? It sure worked out well for David – or did it?

David, David … that statement reeks of desperation. You are right; you were a delegate. You lawfully could wield one vote (adjusted for weighting). Then, you were obligated to abide by the decision, not lead a temper-tantrum out the door. You had, and have, no authority to call for anything.

That brings me to my second point. We (as a party and as people) are better than this. Conventions are a valuable tool in our arsenal of nomination methods and are required every two years to reconstitute Congressional district committees. Every time these ill-advised stunts are pulled, it makes it less and less likely that people are going to willingly and enthusiastically pay for, drive to, and participate in Party functions

As the popular meme says – “you had one job.” The nonsense notwithstanding, we did elect a chairman and he deserves everyone’s support – even David Ross’. I don’t know Mr. Manship. He’s published a pretty impressive biography, but I never met him before he became a candidate because I live in the 7th and don’t like leaving it.

Last, shame on all of you (David Ross included) who tried to paint themselves as “conservatives” while slinging epithets like “RINO” or the dreaded “establishment” or other such nonsense. You, sir, did not demonstrate that honesty or fidelity to conservatism on the 9th of April.

Bill Card is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and grassroots Republican activist in Prince William County. He has served for over a decade as Prince William County’s representative to the 1st Congressional District Committee and as PWC Republican Committee chair, one of Virginia’s largest committees, serving three terms (six years) in the seat. He and his wife Karen make their home in Dumfries, VA.

Graphic courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court

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