Today, in Charlottesville, the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia met for the first time since our four year District Conventions. At this meeting the main job is to elect officers.
Today, by closely divided votes for six of seven positions, the SCC elected new officers. The votes were by secret ballot. As such I feel it appropriate to disclose how I at least voted. I voted for the conservative fellowship candidate for all seven positions. All but two of them lost, Diana Banister and Kevin Gentry. The results can be found in the live blog here. I’ll add some commentary for those officers I have come to know below.
I had a good idea of the whip count before we started. I honestly do not think a single speech swayed a single vote.
Transparency loses, for now
I have been quietly and vocally working to push candidates over the past few months to support transparency measures, specifically near blanket opposition to executive session, and open roll call votes on nearly all measures (notable exception for litigation for example).
First up, executive session: a motion was made to go into executive session to discuss “the budget.” During the rush for a voice vote I rose in opposition and explained that the information to be discussed was the type that would be in public filings. We moved forward with a voice vote that was overwhelmingly in favor of executive session. Approximately 12-15 people voted with me against the motion, including the SCC members from the 8th. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to share with you the super-secret budget information.
Secondly, and more importantly, officer votes: Chairman Whitbeck rightfully identified that a motion was needed to approve the rules for nominations and voting. Immediately after a motion to approve the rules was made and seconded I moved to amend the motion to change the vote from a “secret ballot” to an “open roll call vote.” I believed as I drove to Charlottesville I had about 20-25 votes for this even though I had done no whipping. Members argued for both sides:
Those arguing against an open roll call vote suggested:
– This is normally done by secret ballot
– We need to work with these people so a secret ballot is needed to avoid hard feelings
The question was called, and the vote was not overwhelming. The Hon. Susan Lascolette (7th Dist. SCC) moved for a roll call vote. Chairman Whitbeck called a standing vote. Those in favor of my motion had to stand and be counted. Then those opposed were counted. We lost the vote 31-49. Lascolette called for a roll call vote. I do not believe the Chairman heard her so I stood and called for a roll call vote. The Chairman ruled my request out of order as he had already completed the standing vote.
Without a roll call vote I can not properly identify who stood in favor of transparency, even at that contentious moment. Some in the Fifth and Sixth Districts stood with us. Most of the Seventh District supported transparency.* All of the 10th and 11th Districts supported transparency. I am very proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with my 11th District Representatives from varied backgrounds who stood in unity to oppose secret ballots, Kyle McDaniel, Fredy Burgos, and Ryan Rauner. I would try to list the remainder who stood with us, but fear missing some who deserve to be commended.
*As Anita Hile (Proxy for Nancy Smith 7th Dist.) notes, the entire Seventh voted in favor of open roll call. I wasn’t sure if every person from the Seventh voted in favor and did not want to imply as such if it was not the case. I spoke with Mark and Anita Hile before the meeting, and appreciated to find that they were strongly committed to transparency.
Some have already told me they will support open roll call votes for matters other than officer elections. With some effort, transparency may become the order of the day, not because of the advantage it yields a faction, but because it is the right thing to do as representatives of the Party.
I do not know a number of them, but would like to comment briefly on three I did not vote for, but I know well enough to acknowledge their assets.
Nancy Dye: When speaking with Ms. Dye early on I delved into her personal and professional background. She, and her husband, both doctors, have led truly amazing lives. She has substantial board experience, and has worked in high pressure high conflict environments. She will be an asset to RPV. She also may not remember, but she invited me to her house the next time I am in Roanoke which is in a unique place…
Jill Cook: Ms. Cook is a staple of Fairfax County politics. I got to know her during campaigning from the neighboring 10th District. EVERY time I have seen her she has been moving, quickly, to accomplish something. Her energy is incredible. It is no surprise she has been a consistent winner of Republican volunteer awards. I hope she enjoys recording our long term winning plans and activities, and occasional bickering.
John Selph: Mr. Selph has a long history of handling campaign finance for a broad variety of candidates including some of Virginia’s most conservative candidates. I am glad to be working with him.