A member of the 97th Legislative District Committee and a disputed member of that committee rejected an appeal of the committee’s decision to hold a party canvass in which Del. Chris Peace declared victory.
John Hubbard, King William’s representative on the committee, and Michael Reynold met at Upper King William County Public Library Wednesday evening to render what they said was the committee’s true ruling on an appeal filed by Hanover Supervisor Scott Wyatt. In the appeal, Wyatt challenged the committee’s vote to cancel the May 4 convention days before the event and hold a canvass instead. Some members of the committee disagreed with that decision and held the convention anyway; Wyatt was declared the winner.
“In my humble opinion the (Peace) rebuttal accurately depicts the events that we have been through as I’ve seen them from where I sit. I felt there were a number of inaccuracies in the appeal,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard and Reynold declared Peace is the GOP’s nominee and deemed the convention illegitimate.
Hubbard and Reynold’s decisions are at odds with the rest of the party. Higher-ranking Republican committees have upheld Wyatt’s appeal. It seems probable the argument over who should be the GOP nominee will go before the state central committee or a court.
As has been typical for events in the fraught political clash between Wyatt and Peace for the GOP nomination to run in the 97th House of Delegates general election, the meeting was of debatable legitimacy.
Hubbard’s and Reynold’s claim that their gathering was a meeting of the 97th Legislative District Committee was disputed by the committee chairman Thomas Miller.
“That is not technically possible as there was no Call for a 5 June meeting, and there has to be. Reynold can meet, but it would not be a 97th LDC meeting. No Call, no meeting. And besides that, since the Hanover Chair was removed on 29 May, Reynold is not the rep to the 97th LDC,” Miller said in an email Wednesday.
Miller did not attend the meeting, nor did New Kent representative Mark Daniel. Reynold said both men were invited to the meeting, and said that since the meeting was a continuation of a previously advertised meeting it didn’t require a call.
The meeting was not posted to the Republican Party of Virginia website’s call calendar Wednesday.
Reynold’s ability to act as a member of the committee is also disputed. With the election of a new Hanover GOP committee chairman on May 29, Reynold was supposedly replaced by that person as the Hanover representative on the 97th Legislative District Committee.
“If someone has an issue with the removal of the Hanover Chair by an 80 to 1 vote, then there is an appeal process that they have to go (though), and none has been initiated to date,” Miller said.
When a proxy was sent by Reynold to attend a 97th District Committee meeting held May 30, Miller refused to seat him. It was at that meeting the 97th Legislative District Committee voted to uphold Wyatt’s appeal and cancel the canvass that took place anyway June 1.
A canvass is essentially a primary held by the party. In this case, the state GOP did not support the canvass after deciding to uphold Wyatt’s appeal. The canvass was operated by volunteers.
It was also on May 30 that the Republican Party of Virginia central committee’s executive committee voted to affirm the 1st Congressional District Committee’s vote to uphold Wyatt’s appeal. The executive committee is a smaller and higher ranked body than the state central committee, which could potentially hear this matter in the future.
That’s all to say that it appears unlikely that many people in the GOP party structure will acknowledge Wednesday’s proceedings.
Wyatt first appeared before the 97th District Committee with his appeal in hand May 18. The committee voted to defer its decision until June 5, citing a desire to have transcriptions made of committee meetings referenced in the appeal.
That decision to delay the appeal until after the canvass, which Peace overwhelmingly won, was criticized by Wyatt’s attorney when the appeal was before the 1st District Committee May 20. He argued the 97th District’s vote was effectively an attempt to delay the appeal into submission and had therefore made a decision on it.
The 1st District Committee has appellate power over the 97th District Committee. The Peace campaign and some officials associated with the 97th District Committee rallied around the idea that the appeal was still before the 97th District Committee even as other committees weighed in on it.
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, firstname.lastname@example.org, @jajacobs_