There was mass confusion, shouting between the two camps, a contested temporary chair, an army of angry activists determined to stop the apparent slating effort, a disorganized process, a defeated establishment, and an embarrassed Ray Allen. It was bedlam!!!! Well, it was like that two years ago, at least.
The 2016 Henrico GOP Mass Meeting was a much different, better organized, and much more polite affair. Considering the circumstances surrounding the hotly contested Unit Chairman’s race, and that there were 667 credentialed participants, that was no small feat.
I credit the two candidates for chairman, Eddie Whitlock and Jim Herring, as well as outgoing Chair Don Boswell for pre-negotiating every possible point that could have become a contested issue, well, other than who would actually win. Also, there’s a distinct possibility that all attendees were in better moods because both campaigns provided dinner for their supporters onsite before the meeting gaveled to order.
Gone was Ray Allen‘s panicked barking of orders as Establishment Czar of the 7th District and the visible acrimony between the sides from the 2014 Mass Meeting. Instead, you had Brett Feinstein and Peter Foster deftly and politely managing logistics for the Whitlock Team while their candidate greeted supporters. Several members of the “Brat Pack” genially and skillfully handled similar roles for Jim Herring while he greeted his supporters.
The meeting gaveled to order around 7:15pm. Don Boswell, the outgoing Henrico GOP chairman, served as Mass Meeting Chairman. The various committees were appointed and they gave their reports without incident. Jim Herring and Eddie Whitlock gave their speeches and then the voting started, which took a while. While the votes were being cast, the various candidates for the State Central Committee and representatives of presidential and other campaigns were given time to speak.
Like the rest of the meeting, the speeches went by mostly without incident, except for two odd moments.
In his speech advocating his election to the State Central Committee, VCN employee Alec Thomas surprisingly referenced and tried to walk back a comment that he had publicly made on Facebook. In the comment on Facebook he had stated that he’d “vote for a literal turd before voting for Brat for any nomination…” Those that were unaware of those comments previously, now knew. (The offending comment is reflected in the image at right).
The second odd moment occurred when Republican Party of Virginia Executive Director John Findlay made a show of standing up and applauding during the portion of State Central Candidate Ron Hedlund’s speech where Ron made reference to Chairman Whitbeck’s opposition to his candidacy and the financing of efforts to defeat him. That certainly turned several heads.
The voting was finished. The speeches were done. The votes were counted. The results were announced around 9pm. In the end, the establishment choice, Eddie Whitlock prevailed, garnering 410 votes to “Brat Pack” member Jim Herring’s 235. (If you do the math, you’ll notice that 22 people either left before voting started or happened to be out of the room.)
Jim asked to say a few words and gave a gracious concession speech, telling the remaining crowd to come together and support the Republican Party. Eddie Whitlock said a few words about moving forward together and healing the divide in the Party. Then the meeting adjourned.
How much the Hedlund/Whitbeck situation affected the outcome of this mass meeting is impossible to determine. There will be a clearer view of that once we reach the 7th District Convention, which is on May 21st. We’ll keep an eye out for any updates or developments in regards to the State Central Committee races.
In the meantime, congrats to Eddie Whitlock and his team!
Very well written and yes it was very civil and I was proud of how it went. I do commend how it went down and to get right to the point the lack of bull shit is why it went so well.
Sorry to use that word but I didn’t want to wast space because it’s the truth
A very good article. Fair and balanced.
Yes, everyone there was polite and well behaved. (Well, except for John Findlay and his juvenile, ostensible clapping up and down with his arms straight out in front during Ron Hedlund’s speech. More than one phone camera caught THAT mockery; can’t wait to see it up on YouTube.)
The various speeches were nice, and hardworking volunteers made everything run smoothly. Kudos to them. The evening’s Mass Meeting and pre-Meeting campaign dinners were well-planned out.
But, oh, please don’t ignore what the on-going real battle is (even though it’s behind the scenes), and what the fruition was in Henrico on Tuesday night: Cantor is getting his payback!
C’mon, let’s not pussyfoot around.
Who else saw Cantor’s right-hand gal, Kristi Way, there with her Whitlock sticker on, very visibly helping out Whitlock’s campaign Tues night? For those who are not aware, Kristi was Cantor’s longtime Richmond-based chief of staff, and now his fellow-Moelis employee, I believe. (Didn’t she used to have a seat on the SCC too? I saw her participating several times there. Maybe she just used to carry proxies for Cantor.)
Anyway she was there at the Henrico County Committee’s Mass Meeting for a reason – and to send a clear message from Cantor. It ain’t over, folks.
Now that the Establishment has won a battle in Henrico Committee – dirty tricks, smear tactics,and gobs of Cantor-money’s unethical and undo-influence-beforehand notwithstanding – the Establishment folks WILL NOW call for unity there.
They want us to forget all that went before, and if we can’t – at least go along with the pretense that all’s hunky-dory going forward.
To be fair, Kristi Way is a Henrico resident and member of the GOP committee so it’s no surprise she was supporting Eddie. She currently has a seat on the 7th District Committee, her seat, not a proxy, but is not running again for reelection. However, she has given her proxy to Ray Allen in the past, specifically the meeting in which all the money from the 7th District was moved to the RNC.
This article is a very good overview of what actually happened and who was responsible for it running smoothly. Lots of credit to the out going Chairman Don Boswell and his wife Frances and to the volunteers that checked everyone in. Also that both candidates worked very well together before the meeting to not have any issues come up during the meeting.
I don’t know anything about Whitlock but I hope he is not a staunch supporter of the establishment. We already know who they are and there is no way any constitutional conservatives will be on board with anyone from that group. Ain’t going to happen. Hillary is not the big boogie man it is the establishment.
I believe Eddie to be a good man of moral character. I am willing to work with him and he has opened the door wide for TP folks to be a part. I did endorse and support Jim Herring but I believe Eddie will do a good job. He has at least 235 people who will hold his feet to the fire.
The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. My former county, times are a-changin’.
This was a nice article and i’m glad things went well in Henrico. Hope Eddie Whitlock can pull this party together in that county so we can make it RED in November – for whoever the candidate is.
On another note, the more I learn about Alec Thomas, the less I think of him. No matter who he’s worked for or supported in the past, he has no place on State Central. When you make a Facebook post like he did, it is clear he doesn’t have the judgment to represent Henrico citizens in any capacity. There are 5 others running for 3 positions. I do not plan to support Alec.
I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of Alec Thomas NOT having a place on SCC. His judgement in making such a nasty, excrement-reference post is highly suspect.
Current Chairman John Whitbeck has publicly said Ron Hedlund doesn’t have the character to be on SCC when Ron Hedlund merely made a truthful statement deriding Gillespie’s refusal to answer gun rights survey. Ron’s post was very mild and echoed the sentiments of many Virginia 2nd Amendment supporters.
Surely Chairman John Whitbeck will also speak out against SCC candidate Alec Thomas’ utterly foul position, correct?! Why hasn’t the Chairman done so already? If John Whitbeck is concerned for the character and moral fiber of all members who’re on the SCC he should fight Alec Thomas’ election too!
After all, Whitbeck claimed THAT’s the reason he is so forcefully and publicly fighting Ron’s candidacy to the SCC.
If John Whitbeck continues to remain silent and ignore Alec Thomas’ far more repugnant PUBLIC statement, we all know the reason why. And we know John Whitbeck’s REAL motivation.
Consider what that says about our current state party chairman. Who by the way is himself up for re-election. To the very body he seeks to deny election to Ron. Tsk. he wants to stack his deck, eh.
thanks for your great reply. No matter where Alec falls on the broad conservative spectrum, he does not have the character to represent any group of people on the State Central Committee. After his comment about Brat, I’m wondering if he voted, or would have voted, for Trammel. Wow. Way to support the republican candidates! I’m sick of people like this. It’s hurting us. If we can’t pull together and recognize our differences are minor in comparison to those with the progressive democrats, we don’t deserve to win.