On a rainy Saturday morning over 2,000 Republican delegates arrived at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, VA and proceeded to flip the script on a campaign narrative of chaos and contention. Allegations of a rigged convention gave way to the reality of a fair, organized, and professionally run process with a unanimously adopted rules of order. Claims of mass challenges of delegates were wiped away by a unanimous report of a credentials committee that seated nearly everyone that arrived to vote, including over 120 people who claimed they filled out delegate pre-file applications that were never turned in to the unit committees, so they were never approved at a mass meeting.
Conventional wisdom about this convention was also turned on its head when it came to balloting. Most people believed that, with the campaign to replace Bob Goodlatte morphed into an “anybody but Cynthia” dynamic, the Dunbar campaign’s only shot was to win on the first ballot, yet it was the Cline campaign pulling out all the stops to ensure a single ballot victory by engineering the withdrawal of Chaz Haywood before the first round of voting began.
How big was Haywood dropping out? A lot bigger than some might have you believe. Out of a registered 4200 delegates, about 50% of them actually showed up to vote. Estimates based on polling and voter contacts from the Dunbar campaign put Haywood’s initial signed up delegates at somewhere between 500 – 600 delegates. If you assume a 50% drop in delegates from those signed up to those that showed up (as occurred for the convention overall) you could estimate anywhere from 250 -300 delegates in Harrisonburg ready to vote for Chaz. Compare that number to the raw vote totals for the first round:
At just over 100 votes, Douglas Wright pulls 3.6% of the vote. If Chaz had as many as 250 delegates present, and he threw all his support to Ben Cline, then it is fair to say that Haywood’s presence on the ballot could have reduced Cline’s vote totals by anywhere from 6 to 8%, pulling him below 50% and forcing a second round of balloting.
Would a second round of balloting produced a different result? Quite possibly. After the vote for temporary Chairman, there was quite a bit of confidence running through the Cline supporters at the convention. With Jack Wilson getting over 60% of the vote, many felt a Cline victory was a foregone conclusion. Then there were numerous delays in the process that delayed the first round of balloting longer than usual. There was a three hour gap from the election of the temporary chairman to when the first round of balloting begins. With the delay in activity, combined with a growing confidence in victory, many pro-Cline delegates began to leave the convention as soon as they had cast their ballot in the first round. By the time the speeches by our Senate candidates were completed, a quick look at the convention hall revealed large swaths of empty stands where the pro-Cline Rockingham and Roanoke delegations had been, while the pro-Dunbar areas still looked nearly full.
Whether a second ballot would have changed things or not, it was a big move for the Cline team to convince Haywood to drop out when he did, and it paid off big time.
While there was some excitement about the Congressional ballot, the vote for temporary Chairman made the vote for 6th District Chairman rather anti-climactic. Jennifer Brown won easily with 58% of the vote, but soon may feel that she has won the battle but lost the war. It was reported that two last minute FEC complaints were filed before the convention. One of them is focused on the 6th District Committee and it’s campaign finance reports. While intended to be used against Scott Sayre, the fallout of this complaint will actually land on the 6th District and its new Chairman, Jennifer Brown.
The second complaint is actually much worse. It seeks to have Sayre Enterprises put under review by the Inspector General’s of the GSA and the Defense Department, to have its Federal contracts revoked, and be barred from bidding on new ones. This would most likely result in Sayre Enterprises going out of business and all of its employees on the unemployment line. What was the crime committed by Mr. Sayre to deserve this potential punishment? He allowed the 6th District Committee to meet in one of his conference rooms for free.
Whether these complaints were actually filed or whether they were just last minute stunts is yet to be determined. For the sake of the 6th District let us hope that they were never filed, or if they were that they are able to be withdrawn, especially since Mr. Sayre could most likely remedy the threat to his company by submitting a large bill to the 6th District Committee for unpaid rent, and the committee would have that much less money to help Ben Cline’s election efforts.
Both the Cline and the Dunbar campaigns deserve congratulations. The Cline team was able to deliver a big win in a hard fought primary battle. The Dunbar campaign was strong enough that a first time National Committeewoman was considered a real threat to defeat a 16 year incumbent Delegate. After the results were announced Cynthia Dunbar made the first move towards trying to bring the party back together by moving to nominate Ben Cline by acclamation.
Now Republicans in the 6th district need to put the convention behind them and unite to make sure that Ben Cline can become the next Virginia member of the House Freedom Caucus.
[…] allies even filed formal complaints with the Federal Election Commission, including a complaint that “[S]eeks to have Sayre Enterprises put under review by the Inspector General’s of the GSA […]
[…] Brown had won many people, including myself, urged that those complaints be withdrawn. In a post convention wrap-up I wrote the […]
It sounds like the temporary Chairman Jack Wilson, with the help of Steve Albertson (did they name him Vice Chair of the convention?) – worked together to offer fair and balanced leadership. This does not surprise me at all! So yes, job well done gentlemen!
Yes, sounds like unity and harmony was the order of the day… after that first vote anyway.
We should see if TCC Albertson is available for one of our conventions.
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Does anybody have a video of this event? I would love to see what competing chairmen working together looks like. A lot of hugs, longing looks for approval on motions, ‘You take the gavel..’ ‘No, you take it, I insist.’
You should’ve named this post “What Happened?” and then go on the “Sour Grapes” tour around the 6th.
I watched all this from afar and there is no question that monkey business and shenanigans were started by Sayre/Dunbar….refusing to release delegate and convention registrant lists….banning the press for what turned out to be reasonable requests for gear and equipment (card table)….banning children….threatening to refuse to seat delegates…sending cryptic emails to delegates informing they will not be credentialed…all by Sayre/Dunbar. Jennifer’s decisive near 60% margin clearly demonstrates folks in the 6th were fed up with Sayre.
If and when the 1st FEC complaint lands at the feet of Chairwoman Brown it will be interesting to see if Mr. Sayre et. al. will have supplied/surrendered all committee records and documents to Chairwoman Brown and her transition team. If the FEC determined some records and documents are missing, Chairwoman Brown will simply direct FEC investigators to Mr. Sayre and possibly Mr. Tederick (sic?). They would be the ones in the hot seat not Jennifer.
As for the 2nd complaint, it is highly unlikely anything will materialize from it. Sayre Enterprises leadership (i.e. Mr. Sayre) is free to allow any organization it pleases to utilize headquarters space whether it’s the local 4H club, girl scouts or the Republican 6th District Committee. And even if a worse case scenario happens, a whole scale ban hardly ever happens. My old company, SAIC, was busted in a gigantic fraud/time charing scandal back during 2009-2011 that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and restitution but at no time was threatened with being denied doing business with the federal government. The only folks who got jail time was the program manager and his deputy who were responsible for the crime. A senior vice president in whom’s chain this happened “resigned” for personal reasons but never was charged with criminal wrongdoing. Only Mr. Sayre would be on the hot seat. And, as I said before, nothing will come of this.
This is a big “congratulations not congratulations” piece that is just a big display of sour grapes and extremely unbecoming.
Whatever gets you through the night.
IMO some people are all wound
Up with no place to go.
Apparently it’s never over for some
In the Virginia Sixth Congressional District.
It is now a cautionary tale , of careful what
You wish for ….and so on and so on.
Ben Cline doesn’t win, he really gets the
Benefit of a clock that just ran out on
The other candidate , and so on.
I think Paul Simon sang,
“There were hints and allegations ,
There were incidents and accidents …”
….and so on, and so on.
This and the previous post IMO remind
Me of the movie “The Caine Mutiny “
Where Humphrey Bogart aka
Commander Queeg, forever with the
Ball bearings in his hand , going on
All about the missing strawberries
Unitil he fades into silence.
The convention is over, there is a candidate
Support the candidate or not , vote or not
Perhaps you said it better , simple is better.
This is a great opportunity for a very juicy post mortem — many lessons were given, apparently most remain unlearned.
Biggest one is that the party is waking from hibernation and is sloughing off the dead skin fringe that have latched on to the GOP. The cuckoo-like special interest group strategy of taking out the Drum Major to control the rest of the parade… no mas.
However, TBE prob not the best venue to take apart the entire 6th circus — inside baseball for the 6th.