Chris Peace will tell you he just won a Primary for the 97th District Republican nomination. This activity was not, and has not, been sanctioned by either the 97th Legislative District, the 1st Congressional District, or the Republican Party of Virginia… but if you ask Chris Peace he’ll say it was. In fact, the only nomination contest sanctioned and confirmed in the 97th District is the May 4th Convention which selected Scott Wyatt as the nominee… but if you ask Chris Peace he’ll say that Convention was cancelled and never happened.
Chris has worked hard to maintain this illusion of being the Republican nominee, and the entire foundation of this illusion is his argument that recent General Counsel rulings made by RPV General Counsel Chris Marston have counteracted LDC meetings, Unit Committee meetings, and even Congressional District Committee meetings. But now that argument has been refuted by the RPV General Counsel himself.
For instance, when the 1st Congressional District took up Scott Wyatt’s appeal of the 97th LDC’s motion to cancel the convention and call for a primary, Caroline County Chairman Jeff Sili asked Chris Marston for a ruling on when it is proper for a Congressional Committee to take up an appeal from an LDC. Marston responded by citing language out of the Party Plan that dealt with a generic hypothetical situation, but the Peace campaign acts as if that generic statement of Party Plan language somehow actually voided any action taken by the 1st CD to uphold Scott Wyatt’s appeal, before the 1st District had even met to consider that appeal.
Next, the Hanover County Committee met to remove their Chairman, Dale Taylor, from her position. Before the meeting Dale Taylor asks Chris Marston for a ruling about the notice requirements for Chairmen facing a challenge to their position. Marston replied with another generic response with language and examples from the Party Plan and previous General Counsel rulings. Hanover voted 80-1 (the total vote representing over 2/3 of the actual membership of the Committee) to remove Dale Taylor, but Taylor claims she wasn’t given proper notice. Because of this the Peace campaign claims that the meeting never happened, and therefore Dale Taylor is still Chairman.
On May 30 the new membership of the 97th LDC met to affirm the ruling of the 1st Congressional District upholding Scott Wyatt’s appeal. They reaffirmed that the Convention was valid, Scott Wyatt is the nominee, and the voided primary was cancelled. After this meeting was adjourned Mike Reynold, who was removed from the 97th LDC when Dale Taylor was removed from office, entered the building. Peace supporters then pretended to have their own meeting and declare the Primary is still on. Their reasoning behind this? Well, because Chris Martson said so in his generic hypothetical ruling on notice that Dale Taylor asked for.
With the persistent, and purposeful, confusion on how this process works coming from Chris Peace supporters, I decided to go right to the source. On Sunday, June 2nd, I contacted RPV General Counsel Chris Marston and asked him whether rulings he may give about certain situations automatically cancel or supersede an action that may be taken by a Committee that hasn’t actually taken place yet.
In his response to me, Mr Marston confirmed arguments made on this blog and in other places that his rulings don’t work that way:
“No. I only do hypotheticals because I’m never in a position to determine the facts.“
Because the question of whether or not an LDC has disposed of an appeal, or whether a Unit Chairman was given proper notice before they were removed are questions of fact, there is no way one of Marston’s rulings could preemptively negate an action by a Committee because, as he said, he is “never in a position to determine the facts.”
That’s what the appeals process is for.
I then asked him to confirm that a ruling on proper notice prior to a Unit Committee’s action to remove a Chairman would not nullify that removal, because the evidence of whether or not proper notice was given is not something his ruling can identify, and that the appeals process is where those facts are determined, and where his ruling would be applicable.
Mr. Marston confirmed that his ruling would not prevent the removal of a Unit Chairman in this instance, and that the appeals process would be the proper way to handle this situation. “Every trier of fact gets to make its decision,” he said. “So the committee in the first instance, and each appellate body.”
Chris Peace’s arguments for why he should be the 97th District nominee are built on a house of cards that relies on the supposed omnipotent power of the RPV General Counsel to rule on issues before they even happen, without even needing to consider the facts of those situations. The real RPV General Counsel has said it doesn’t work that way.
Each and every committee is allowed to take action on an issue. In order to counteract that action an appeal must be filed. That appeal must work its way through the proper process laid out in the RPV Party Plan. The General Counsel may issue rulings on matters related to the Party Plan, and those rulings are binding when considering the facts, but those rulings do not nullify actions taken that have not been appealed.
The Wyatt campaign, the 1st Congressional District and the Hanover Committee have followed the proper process laid out in the Party Plan. Scott Wyatt appealed the ruling by the 97th LDC to cancel the convention and that appeal was upheld.
Based on the official ruling of the 1st Congressional District, Scott Wyatt is the nominee of the 97th District. Based on the actions of the Hanover County Committee, Dale Taylor is not the Chairman of that Committee, and Mike Reynold is no longer a member of the 97th District LDC.