97th Legislative District Committee meeting ends without weighing convention cancelation

Staff writer

The 97th Legislative District Committee’s special meeting to reconsider whether to hold a convention ended abruptly without the topic being considered Saturday.

People packed into the Atlee Branch Library’s meeting room for a special meeting of the committee where one of the agenda items was to “rescind or amend a motion previously adopted regarding the nomination method for the 97th House of Delegates district.”

Before that item could be considered, committee chairman Thomas Miller ruled a motion to pause proceedings and reconvene at a future meeting out of order. He then closed the meeting and exited the room.

“There’s insufficient time to have another LDC meeting between now and the convention, so I rule the motion out of order,” Miller said. “This meeting is adjourned.”

The tense meeting came amid a fraught campaign between Del. Chris Peace and his challenger Scott Wyatt, a member of the Hanover Board of Supervisors, to claim the Republican nod to run in the general election for the 97th House of Delegates district. Both sides have accused the other of unfairness during the process to pick delegates who will vote in the convention.

Both John Hubbard, King William representative, and Michael Reynold, Hanover’s representative, were supportive of holding another meeting in the near future to consider the day’s actions. They expressed frustration with aspects of the funding and logistics of the upcoming convention scheduled for May 4. When such a motion was made, Miller ended the meeting.

Generally, Hubbard and Reynold faulted what they considered a nebulous and rushed process as the committee considered finances and action related to how the convention will be run.

“I’m asking questions about the finances of an event we’re about to hold in six days for 1,200 to 1,300 people. If we had a wedding we have coordinated far more,” Reynold said. “I think it’s perfectly appropriate to ask how the money is being spent.”

He specifically voiced concerned about an anonymous donation of $600 toward operation of the convention.

“I don’t know what you want that isn’t included in (the meeting materials),” Miller said.

Hubbard expressed concerns about receiving information about pending committee decisions on short notice, saying he didn’t have time to make an informed decision about whether to sign off on them.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Hubbard said.

Mark Daniel, New Kent representative, said the move was just a delaying tactic.

“This is a tactic to, rather than address the issue, to delay when faced with having a convention a week from today,” he said.

After Miller exited the room amid shouts from the audience and charges from Reynold that a vote is needed to close the meeting, Hubbard made a motion to reconvene the meeting 7 p.m. Monday at the library, which passed. Attendees of the meeting scattered and left the meeting room shortly after Miller’s exit.

It appears at least part of the committee intends to return to the library Monday to continue the meeting. Both Hubbard and Reynold said they intended to come back to pick up where they left off on the agenda, presumably meaning the agenda item regarding potential cancellation of the convention will be considered then.

Representatives of both campaigns criticized Saturday’s meeting.

“What happened here today was a continuation of the way Wyatt has run his campaign from the beginning,” said Boyd Marcus, a consultant with the Peace campaign. “This group of people is trying to make sure we’re having a convention that’s run properly.”

He said the Peace campaign intends to attend Monday’s meeting.

“They will make decisions about the convention at that point in time,” he said, referring to the committee.

Jeff Adams, an attorney with the Wyatt campaign, said the meeting was a farce and the committee doesn’t have the authority to cancel the convention with a vote.

“What happened here was a kind of Kabuki Theater,” he said. “This was a process in which the party faithful were highly engaged … and now you’ve got two members of this committee, really at the behest of one of the candidates who did poorly in the mass meetings, trying to wipe that away.”

He wasn’t sure whether the Wyatt campaign would show up Monday.

“We have not made any decisions,” he said.

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

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