This article is in response to a piece from TBE Contributor John Massoud entitled, “Facts About the Upcoming Virginia 6th Congressional District Convention.”
I currently sit on the Sixth District Committee as the Central Regional Vice Chairman. I have been involved in Republican politics for close to ten years – since I started college at Liberty University. A lot of people have called me many of things over those ten years. However, Mr. Massoud stating that opposition to the tactics on display at the January 6th meeting of the Sixth District Committee was “dreamed up by some establishment hacks to try and make people on Team Dunbar (aka Matt Tederick) look bad” is a new one.
Regardless, allow me to provide a different perspective on Mr. Massoud’s assertions. He cites 2016 rules to the 6th District Convention in which State Central Committee members and Presidential Elector needed to be elected by plurality as precedent to the 2018 proposed method. Mr. Massoud called opponents to this method as being “specious”, “disingenuous” or “hypocritical.” Here’s the difference I have: that convention only had party leadership up for election, not a public office.
Party leadership elections are entirely different from public office and to compare the two is the equivalent of comparing apples to oranges. The fundamental difference is that party leadership represents a select constituency, whereas public office (in this case: Congressman) represents the entire Sixth District.
Do we not owe it to the Sixth District to ensure that the candidate we select can gather the support of a majority of Republicans? Should all six candidates pre-file, we can conceivably come away with a candidate that only gathers 15%. How can we definitively claim to be putting up the best candidate when we cannot be sure that this candidate even has the support of a majority of the Republicans attending the convention?
Mr. Massoud also said that allowing delegates to see the rules and digest them before the convention did not occur in 2016. Has it ever occurred in a convention before? If I remember correctly, the proper method of convening a convention is to also convene a Rules Committee to draft the rules. This is drastically outside the norm of operation for any convention. The argument also is that the delegates have the right to approve the method on the convention floor via the Rules Committee Report. This is entirely true. However, we have effectively set into motion an expectation. The expectation is that there will be one vote for Congress. Despite the understanding that delegates to the convention can adopt a different rules package, are we really going to imply that we can simply “un-ring” the bell and adopt a different rules package? This is misleading at best and deceptive at worst. This was a deliberate attempt to predetermine the rules to the convention.
Mr. Massoud stated that this method will also allow the convention to get out “on time”. I believe that he may be referring to the 2013 convention when the balloting for Lieutenant Governor (which gave us a nominee in E.W. Jackson) went late into the night. What Mr. Massoud either forgets or fails to mention is that the first ballot took almost 4 hours to complete and count. Proper execution of mechanics can prevent this from happening again. The argument that we need plurality in order to have a shorter convention is erroneous. Shorter conventions can be achieved if the mechanics are executed properly.
My official statement called on the Sixth District Committee to either amend the convention call to strike the plurality vote language or to issue a statement supporting a uniform rules package from the Rules Committee and officially acknowledge the rights of the delegates to decide the rules on the floor of the convention. I stand by this statement and I have asked Scott Sayre to consider calling a special meeting of the Sixth District Committee to reconsider the plurality language.
The second biggest issue I have with the January 6th meeting is the date of the convention, May 19th. This is in direct conflict with Liberty University’s Commencement ceremonies. I view this as a deliberate attempt to quash certain influences and voices from Liberty University and I view this as a slap in the face to Liberty students, faculty, and staff. I apologize to all Liberty students, faculty and staff negatively affected by this decision. While it is highly unlikely that the Committee will ever reconsider the date, please know that I understand the decision to hold the convention on May 19th places an undue burden on this constituency and I will work to ensure that this never happens again. Liberty University also offered a site for the convention at the cost of $7,500. Yet, we selected a location that will cost 3.5x more ($25,000).
We must ask ourselves why the Committee not only selected a date that directly conflicts with Liberty University’s Commencement but flat out refused a date that provided a venue for $17,500 less! Why is it also okay to not conserve funds with a contested Congressional election on the horizon – especially a seat that Democrats are salivating over given their recent successes at the ballot box?
In the effort of full disclosure, I endorsed Ben Cline for Congress – with that said, this article was written without consultation of the Cline campaign. The words and ideas are mine and mine alone.
Learning facts is fine – but we are faced with a difference of opinions, not a difference of “facts.”