The First Congressional District Republican Committee met on Monday night to hear an appeal from Scott Wyatt asking to certify him the winner of the recent convention in the 97th House of Delegates district to determine the Republican nominee for the House of Delegates.
Since the convention, supporters of Wyatt’s opponent Delegate Chris Peace have attempted to negate the results of the convention and set up a Firehouse primary on June 1st. In a 17 to 5 vote, the First District Committee affirmed Scott Wyatt as the GOP nominee in the 97th District, and declared the planned Firehouse primary to be null and void.
Peace’s supporters argued that party rules required the First District to wait until the 97th District Committee (a body with three voting members which they control) had 30 days to handle contest filed by Wyatt. However, noting that the two majority members, including a General Assembly lobbyist working for Peace, voted recently to postpone consideration for more than another two weeks—past the date of the scheduled canvass and outside the 14 day period under party rules in which the 97th District Committee is required to “render a decision”—the First District Committee determined the 97th District Committee had functionally rejected the appeal, thus taking the necessary action to put the matter in front of the the senior body. This was based on provisions in Robert’s Rules that state that delaying consideration of an action to a point in time where it has been made moot is the same as rejecting it.
At the end of the day, the calm and considered leaders of the First District Committee recognized what the Peace supporters had been trying to do was sabotage at the last minute a process they knew they would lose. Because all of the mass meetings had already been held, and all the convention delegates had been elected, it was improper to halt the process in midstream. It was said to be akin to a politician changing from a primary to another method based on unfavorable early exit polls. Ultimately the First District found this action to be out of order, and thus granted Wyatt’s appeal. They also canceled the 97th District’s purported firehouse primary.
Peace supporters suggested an intent to proceed with holding their firehouse primary. They appear to be banking on Hanover Chairwoman Dale Taylor being able to eke out a win in the challenge to her chairmanship on May 29th. If Taylor continues as chair, then the 97th District will have the votes to replace their committee chairman and submit a conflicting nominee certification to the State Board of Elections.