Clearly Third District GOP Chairman Chris Stearns is the individual whose ox is being gored most in the ongoing slating saga undertaken by Rep. Eric Cantor’s YG Virginia organization. It is unsurprising, then, that Stearns is a vocal opponent of the practice. More surprising is that he hasn’t attempted to do the same thing with his opponents’ delegates in counties where he has a clear majority. Why? Both because he believes the practice is wrong, and because he understands that the practice leaves in its wake a wasteland of mistrust and suspicion that makes it impossible for the party to function effectively. In other words, he doesn’t give the other side a taste of their own medicine because he’s actually being a leader, not a slash-and-burn, win at all costs politician.
The internal damage to the party caused by slating (more here for those unfamiliar with the practice) is such that Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins has strongly condemned it:
Although the slating is targeting delegates to district conventions, those delegates often happen to be the same people who signed up to be delegates to the state convention in June where our GOP Senate nominee will be picked. When their party has unfairly kicked them out of their process once, what are the chances they’re going to be enthusiastic about the next convention? For some, the answer is not at all. Hence, both major GOP Senate candidates are also publicly against slating. Shak Hill has said,
Is this how you build a party? Is this the party you want?
We are calling on all Conservatives to unite together and stand against the practice of Washington power politics that has crossed the Potomac into our Commonwealth. This type of bloodletting in our own ranks will further erode our chances at electoral success and rob us of our argument as a Party that stands on principle.
Ed Gillespie’s political director, Hooff Cooksey, said the following:
Our campaign has not and will not be engaged or engaging in slating. We know the rules allow for it, but Ed does not believe it is the right approach to getting delegates. The Ed for Senate Campaign is trying to get as many people as possible to attend the state convention in Roanoke on June 7.
Other party officials, including the District Chairmen in all of the affected districts (Linwood Cobb in the 7th, Gary Byler in the 2nd, Chris Stearns in the 3rd, and now Bill Stanley in the 5th), have come out strongly against this party-destroying practice. 10th District Chairman John Whitbeck, whose committee will be running the party canvass to select a nominee to succeed Frank Wolf, is also steadfast against slating, as is 1st District Chairman Eric Herr.
Despite this, staffers of YG Virginia are privately bragging that their deceptive efforts (the kind detailed here) will “crush” the grassroots opposition tonight in Henrico. And that will be a real shame. Some voices will decry the practice of slating, but then give it a free pass simply because the “other side” had a majority (e.g., “Well, it only happened because they were better organized, so I guess turnabout is fair play”).
The problem with that, of course, is there is no fair play at all about any of this.