Tonight the 10th district committee did as Barbara Comstock asked (demanded) and voted to give her a primary next year rather than a convention or a canvass. The vote was a tie with Chairman Jo Thorburn breaking the tie with a vote for a primary. Instead of the Republican Party running their own process for choosing their nominee, the state will conduct a primary costing the taxpayers over $250,000. (How does that make us fiscally conservative?) Deals were cut and threats were made but Comstock got what she wanted. Due to Virginia’s Incumbent Protection Act, Comstock may now consider herself “Congresswoman for Life.”
There was no reason next year’s primary had to be decided tonight. The committee had intended to vote in the fall but Barbara insisted that the vote be tonight, no delays. So of course the committee agreed.
A question we might ask, do we elect people to serve us, or are we here to serve them? It would appear the 10th district committee exists to serve Barbara Comstock. Apparently she doesn’t realize she needs ALL of these people to be on her side and not just the half of the committee that did what she demanded.
In a thinly veiled move to stack the deck for a primary, Beau Correll made a motion during the meeting to dissolve the Manassas Park Committee and thus make their chairman, Brian Leeper, unable to vote in tonight’s primary vs party process vote. Brian Leeper is known a supporter of a party process. The pro-primary people pulled out all the stops. Comstock left no stone unturned in making sure she gets her primary. Beau’s motion was defeated and a substitute motion was adopted leaving Leeper a voting member of the 10th District Committee.
Chairman Thoburn told the committee that the 10th district will have to have a convention next year regardless, because voters must elect members to the 10th District Committee.
One argument for the primary was the cost of party run process. Barbara Comstock made sure the 10th District would have very little money to support a party run process when she told the committee they could not have their annual Gala as the 10th District has had for many, many, years. She told the committee as a freshman Congresswoman she would have no time to support or attend the annual fundraiser gala. Again, the Committee caved to Barbara’s demands and the Committee cancelled their annual fundraiser. Then Comstock made sure the vote for a primary was taken before the Committee would have a chance to have a fall fundraiser. Well played Congresswoman! However, money isn’t really an issue as the 10th District proved in their party canvass last year. Candidates pay filing fees that more than cover the cost of a convention or a canvass.
Several members of the committee stressed that the committee should always give our Congressional representative what he or she wants. Again, does this committee exist to serve Barbara or was Barbara elected to Congress to serve us, the people? One committee member said, “Are we here to serve Barbara only, and not the people we represent?”
This divisive meeting could have been prevented. Comstock could have let the Committee vote in the fall. She could have supported the annual gala. She might have been gracious and let the Committee have a convention or a party canvass, knowing she would win either. By letting the 10th District Committee determine the method of her nomination, with no pressures from her, she would have had the full support of the Committee and the district. Every member of the committee would be supporting Barbara next year.
Her arm twisting, threats, and deals have left a very bad taste in the mouths of many members of the 10th District Committee and activists around the district. They will not be enthusiastic in supporting Comstock next year. Some have said directly that they will not be among her volunteers. One very active Republican in the 10th District said, “I won’t lift a finger to help her next year.” What a shame. Barbara Comstock may have won the battle and lost the war. We all hope that’s not true and we can all support her re-election.
We all need to thank the following members of the committee who were strong enough to resist the deals and threats and stand firm for the party, the grassroots, and Republican voters to control who will be their nominee:
Andrew Nicholson, Clarke County Chairman
Michael Haynes, Loudoun County Chairman
Brian Leeper, Manassas Park Chairman
Delegate Mark Berg, State Central Committee Member
Eve Marie Barner Gleason, State Central Committee Member
Kay Gunter, State Central Committee Member
Julie Williams, Presidential Seat
Heidi Stirrup, Congressional Seat
Those who voted against the people and a party run process:
Jo Thoburn, 10th District Chair
Mary Campbell, Fairfax County Representative
Andrew Robbins, Frederick County Chairman
Sharon E. Ashurst, Manassas City Chairman
MaryJo Rigby, Prince William County Representative
Beau Correll, Winchester City Chairman
Betsy McIntire, Virginia Federation of Republican Women Representative
Eric Johnson, Young Republicans Representative
Nathaniel Fritzen, College Republicans Representative
This question remains unanswered: do we the people exist to serve the needs and wants of our elected officials or are they elected to serve the needs and wants of the people? It seems the 10th district is evenly divided on the answer.