After slating out more than 100 delegates in a Mass Meeting attended by Democrats and Republican opponents, is John “Slater” Ferguson changing his tune in his first public appearance?
Ferguson granted an in-studio interview, introducing himself as the new Republican Chairman in Campbell County. He attempted to address the accusations that have dogged him since the controversial Mass Meeting. The most serious accusation is his open invitation to Democrats to overthrow the Republican committee.
Before the Mass Meeting, Ferguson’s campaign literature, sent to traditionally Democrat strongholds, read:
You will be asked to sign a paper declaring your “intent” to vote Republican…. However, this pledge is absolutely nonbinding, and there are no candidates selected at this time.
After the Mass Meeting, however, Ferguson’s understanding of the loyalty oath’s significance has changed:
Brian Weigand (radio host): …was this election swung by people who were not actually Republicans?
John Ferguson: Well, *sigh* I, I can’t speak for, uh, [pause] I can’t speak for them. They, they were all Republicans. Bot-, bottom line is that the, uh, the leadership that was in charge of the Mass Meeting at the start had made, uh, everyone sign, um, a pledge saying that, that, they would support Republican candidates, and, uh, that, that, from this, that point on, that, they were Republicans, so, I mean, as far as I’m concerned, everyone in there was a Republican.
Before the Mass Meeting, John “Slater” Ferguson’s campaign literature repeatedly blasted the only Republicans on the County Board of Supervisors for being “extremist.” His flyer read, “Let there be no doubt, your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones will pay a price!”
Our Supervisors’ crime? Proposing to trim less than SEVEN TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT of the budget.
After the Mass Meeting, the other radio host, Mari White, read his campaign’s unfounded accusations, asking him if he really believed they were true. Ferguson avoided answering, merely calling for everyone to work for the “greater good of Campbell County.”
Ferguson: Well, *sigh* we, we, we definitely need candidates and, um, elected officials who, who, who’ve got a good understanding of all the issues. … So, what I, what I will do is work with, um, right, right now there’s, there’s, there’s three official members of, uh, Republican members on the Board of Supervisors. I will work with them, um, and I will work with my supporters, and um, m- matter of fact, the opp-, you know, my opposition’s supporters, so we’re all on the same page, and that’s working for the greater good of Campbell County.
Ferguson masterminded one of the most contentious and exclusionary Mass Meetings in the history of the Fifth District GOP. Now, after the Mass Meeting, Ferguson evidently considers himself a magnanimous unifier.
Weigand: Do you worry that there could be any sort of long-term schism in the party?
Ferguson: *deep breath, sigh* Well, I, it’s gotta start somewhere, you know, it, it, it takes, it takes someone, uh, being the big, the bigger person and stepping forward and saying hey, let’s work together, let’s put, put, put aside our differences. It’s gotta start somewhere.
During the Mass Meeting, Ferguson did not just remove many long-time committee members (including elected Republican officials) and eager participants. He also requested people to join and assume control of the local Republican unit whose public political involvement prior to the Mass Meeting was to REPEATEDLY, PUBLICLY OPPOSE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES *AND* SUPPORT, ENDORSE, AND CAMPAIGN FOR DEMOCRAT-ENDORSED CANDIDATES. This was an all-out attempt to eviscerate the historically conservative Republican base in Campbell.
Now, after the Mass Meeting, have conservative Republicans have become his most sought-after company?
Ferguson: Well, the, the main thing, that, the two main things we need to be focusing on and that I’m gonna focus on in the next two years is getting good local people involved, getting good, uh, conservative, uh, Campbell County Republicans involved in the party…
And, in response to an earlier question:
Um. Our, our, our main objective, uh, should be winning elections. And, and that, that means finding, uh, good conservative, uh, Republicans in Campbell County to run for office as, as well.
Who’s the REAL “Slater” Ferguson? Ask more than 100 loyal conservative Republicans he ruthlessly slated off the GOP committee and the state and district convention delegations, with the help of scores of Democrats – the first time in the history of Campbell County that slating ever occurred. His definitions of “conservative” and “unity” will come as a real surprise to them.
Lynchburg Morning Show, Ferguson radio interview is available at: http://lynchburgsmorningshow.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-28T07_52_43-07_00
Former Campbell County GOP chair Rick Boyer’s called-in response to the Ferguson interview is also available at: http://lynchburgsmorningshow.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-31T02_47_01-07_00