On April 29th and 30th, Virginia Republicans will travel to Harrisonburg for the RPV 2016 Quadrennial Convention. While there, they will select the next Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. The current RPV Chairman, John Whitbeck, is seeking re-election. Vince Haley, his opponent, gained attention when he ran in a four-way primary for the VA Senate in the 12th District. Both candidates hail from the conservative side of the party.
I am supporting John Whitbeck for RPV Chairman in this race for a very simple reason…his experience and successful performance as Chairman.
When John took over at RPV at the end of 2014, the party was a mess. We had just lost a tight Senate race when other states all over the Country were throwing out incumbent Democrats. The party was nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, and the internal fighting was literally tearing the party apart. Establishment consultants were threatening to bankrupt the party because of Eric Cantor’s loss in the primary and conservatives felt abandoned.
Fast forward to today. Chairman Whitbeck has skillfully pulled our party out of debt. Republicans held the Virginia Senate when many pundits were certain we would lose due to numerous retirements in swing districts. Republicans did this even though we faced an onslaught of millions of dollars of out-of-state funding from Bloomberg and McAuliffe. Nobody can say that the internal fighting has stopped, but it has subsided from an angry boil to a slow simmer. Many people who opposed Whitbeck in the beginning now admit he has been a successful chairman.
This success did not come as a surprise. Before he took over at RPV, John was Chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee at the time of Frank Wolf’s retirement. John successfully ran one of the largest Party Canvasses in the history of RPV. By selecting a party run process he was able to limit participation by Democrats and built the 10th District’s email list by over 10,000 emails. He was also the first District Chairman to pass motions opposing the 2012 transportation tax increase.
John Whitbeck spent years working in his local unit and district committees, volunteering and working his way up from the grassroots. Vince Haley’s experience working within the party, on the other hand, is lacking.
Haley has never served as a District Chair.
Haley has never served as a Unit Chair.
Haley has never run a party process (convention, party canvass or mass meeting).
Vince’s experience mainly comes from his work in Washington, DC with policy think tanks and for Newt Gingrich. This is important work, but it doesn’t really translate well into local party leadership.
There are many roles that Vince Haley can and should play in the future of our party, but I don’t believe RPV Chairman is the place for him to start. You wouldn’t hire someone who has never managed a retail store to be the CEO of Walmart, especially if the current CEO is doing a good job. The same philosophy applies here.
John Whitbeck has done an outstanding job as RPV Chairman and should be re-elected.