March 6, 2009
Apparently so. In yet another setback for the recently-ascendant "grassroots" faction of the Virginia Republican Party, chairman Jeff Frederick has been told to either resign or face removal by a three-fourths majority vote by the State Central Committee on April 4. The embattled young (33) chairman vows to fight to retain his position. Among the party leaders who have spoken out against Frederick is Michael Wade, chairman of the 3rd Congressional District Republican Committee. Second District Chairman Gary Byler is among those who remain loyal to Frederick; see the Washington Times*.
This situation may cause collateral damage to the party: Bob McDonnell, the GOP candidate for governor, has implied that he favors a change in leadership, eliciting outrage from certain members of "The Base." They won't go down without a fight, either.
Frederick withstood a challenge to his leadership status at the Republican "Advance" last December, and when Walter Curt resigned as RPV Treasurer in January, calling the state party "dysfunctional," it was quite a slap at Frederick. The grumblings of dissent escalated into a roar last month, when Frederick committed a cybernetic indiscretion about a possible defection to the GOP by one of two state senators -- either Ralph Northam or John Miller -- tipping off Democratic leaders in time so that those two stayed put. J.R. Hoeft drew attention to that gaffe last month, and on Wednesday he elaborated, alluding to comments by Frederick regarding Charles Darwin. I was unaware of that.
So who would take Frederick's place as RPV chair? Waldo suggests two familiar names: Paul Harris and Tom Davis. Either would be competent and well-tempered for the position, but both men have serious liabilities, however. Waldo thinks he'll win his $100 bet with Shaun Kenney, that Frederick would seek reelection to his seat in the House of Delegates in spite of his earlier pledges to the contrary (see July 10; scroll down). As of last month, Frederick was throwing his support to his wife Amy; see voteamy.com.
I've been skeptical of Frederick all along, but was willing to give him a chance, and frankly I don't see the need for such haste in replacing him. I'm not sure that the Twitter gaffe alone would warrant his ouster, so I assume that there must be a number of other problems behind the scenes. For example, because of poor fundraising, RPV may have to lay off some staff members. In due course, the grownups in the party will reassert themselves, and the lengthy process of rebuilding a solid party foundation can begin.
* Hat tip to Richard Viguerie.