State GOP stands behind vote to cancel 97th District convention

Staff writer

Republican Party of Virginia chairman Jack Wilson affirmed the authority of the 97th District Legislative Committee to cancel the convention that was planned to take place Saturday.

“I am extremely displeased with how the events in the 97th LDC have unfolded over the course of the last few weeks. Tonight, the 97th Legislative District Committee passed a motion canceling the convention scheduled for this Saturday. Under the Party Plan, the Legislative District Committee, not the Chairman of the Committee, has jurisdiction over the Party nominating process in the 97th House of Delegates district,” Wilson said in an emailed letter.

The Republican Party of Virginia had removed the convention listing on its website’s calendar by Thursday morning, further suggesting that as far as the party is concerned, the convention is out.

Del. Chris Peace shared Wilson’s email on Facebook at around 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.

“Regardless of the desperation seen in the lies and deceit from Wyatt — the convention has officially been declared as CANCELED,” read the Peace campaign Facebook post.

Peace’s opponent, Scott Wyatt, said Wilson acted “inappropriately” in a statement Thursday.

“The Chairman of our LDC has legal standing, has determined the convention should go on, so it will go on,” the statement read. “To change the process now would be like changing an election on election day. All of us know that once election day has arrived there is no turning back.”

Wyatt didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

Peace’s post came just hours after a tense special meeting of the 97th Legislative District Committee in which chairman Thomas Miller vowed to hold the convention after he declared the attempt by some committee members to hold a vote to cancel the convention to be out of order.

“The party plan does not give the committee the power to interfere in changing the nomination process once it is underway,” Miller said. “We cannot undo the mass meetings.”

Shortly after the chairman adjourned the meeting, the committee voted to cancel the convention.

Miller didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

With the convention apparently no longer to take place, the stage appears to be set for a party canvass, or firehouse primary — one held by the party — to be conducted to allow voters to select between Peace and Wyatt, who is a Hanover supervisor. The winner will be the GOP nominee in the upcoming general election.

After the committee voted to cancel the convention Wednesday, it also voted to hold the canvass June 1.

“We voted to cancel the convention and to hold a canvass,” King William representative John Hubbard said Wednesday. “It is by far the fairest way to do this.”

The committee also voted to establish a committee to explore how to best hold the canvass, and that group is expected to report back on its findings at a public meeting May 8. There isn’t a time or location established for that meeting yet, but details are expected to be publicized.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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