“I don’t know what the hell you people are! Saying my vote has been canceled,” a voice that sounds like Granny from the Loony Tunes says in a voicemail posted on Facebook by State Central Committee (SCC) member Willie Deutsch. He said that SCC members who voted for the convention have been spammed with robo-calls and attack voicemails since the Saturday vote.
“You know you’re nothing but a bunch of the swamp people, is what you are! The damn Democrats. Why don’t you go to hell and drop dead too, first,” the voicemail finishes.
RescueRPV.com takes a more conventional approach, listing the names of SCC members and how they voted.
“On Saturday 12/5/20, throwing caution to the wind, the RPV establishment decided to ban Republicans from the primary. The establishment didn’t want to hear from you, they voted to choose our Statewide nominees at an in-person convention where they set the rules and the Party elite votes,” the website states.
SCC Member Mauricio Tamargo voted for a convention, and disputed the claims of RescueRPV.com.
“The writer of the website clearly does not know the history of the convention versus primary issue in the RPV,” Tamargo told The Virginia Star in an email. “The writer of the website seems to have it backwards. The argument used over conventions in the past was that they favored the conservatives so certain less conservative people wanted primaries. The truth, in my opinion, is that both views are incorrect. I [think] conventions and primaries are both tools that we use as needed depending on the circumstances.”
Tamargo said he had not received any hate voicemails, but he knew of other SCC members who had.
RescueRPV.com is anonymous and does not mention a specific 2021 candidate. No one at the site replied to The Virginia Star’s request for comment. The SCC’s Saturday decision is thought to have harmed well-heeled potential gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. It was also criticized by some party members. But by far the most vocal opponent of the decision was gubernatorial candidate State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield).
Chase carries a strong, committed base and would likely perform well in a primary. However, her hard-line stance makes her unpopular to some in the party since she will have a difficult time winning in Virginia’s general election. Chase had warned she would run as an independent if the SCC chose a convention.
Trump Virginia Campaign Chairman John Fredericks said that SCC members ostensibly chose a convention to block Chase. “They manipulated the system of nomination to ice out one candidate,” he said.
However, Chase called their bluff, immediately reiterating that she would seek election through an independent campaign, a move that would likely spoil the RPV’s hopes of winning the 2021 gubernatorial election.
Tamargo said, “That is one of the weirdest things about this. I liked Senator Chase as a candidate. I was likely going to vote for her. I had no idea she was against a convention. As far as I know she did not lobby the SCC against the convention. She did not lobby me. Now that I know her views, I do not care for threats. But my reasons still remain and are my main reasons. I hope SHE changes her mind and runs as a GOPer.”
According to Tamargo, a convention offers several benefits. “I was concerned that the governor would keep using his emergency powers to delay our primary and our convention much like he did in 2020. I want the GOP to be as much in control of their own business as possible.”
He added that a convention ensures that a candidate is elected by a majority, something that would be more difficult in a primary gubernatorial nomination with several candidates. Additionally, Tamargo said primary ballots would be counted by the same machines used in the general election, potentially allowing Democrats to interfere with the vote.
SCC Member Elizabeth Butler said, “I voted for a primary because I think it’s important for all Republicans to have a chance to come to the polls and choose the nominee. I think we end up with a stronger nominee that has broader appeal across the state when we do that.”
Butler said conventions are more expensive for participants and require a bigger investment of time than a primary. She hopes that rescueRPV.com is an indicator of a groundswell that will lead to the SCC changing its mind. She added that although she’s new to the SCC, she has been impressed by the other members.
“They’re smart people and their opinions are varied,” she said. “And that’s probably good because you get to hear the pros and cons in our situation. It just is, in my mind, unfortunate that they, at this time at least, have chosen a convention, because it’s just not as open to participation.”
Fredericks said, “The selection of conventions to nominate candidates in Virginia by Republicans has been at the core, at the genesis, of the Republican Party’s total and utter collapse. They lock out hundreds of thousands of primary voters. It’s an elite process prone to rigging and it encourages hand-to-hand combat,” Fredericks said.
“It is a terrible, dreadful process and it has cut the soul out of the party,” he said. However, Fredericks said the SCC needs to stick with the decision they made. He thinks Chase will come around and run in the convention.
“Now that [Chase] says that she’s going to run as an independent, they want to change it back because she’s going to destroy their chances to win. If you’re going to do that, you might as well turn the party over to Amanda Chase, give her the keys, and just anoint her as the nominee and be done with it.”
Fredericks said he didn’t know who was behind the Rescue RPV website.
“I like it because I think the name is catchy and hilarious. Rescue RPV is very funny. They certainly need a lot of rescuing,” he said.
According to RescueRPV.com, the list of SCC members who voted for a convention are: Richard McCarty, Heather Rice, Paula Steiner, Caleb Cruey, Patti Lyman, Eric Wilson, Melvin Adams, Melissa Beaudoin, John Massoud, Ben Slone, Geary Higgins, Russ Wright, Mark Kelly, Dan Webb, Heather Stefl, Adela Bertoldi, Willie Deutsch, Mark Daniel, Hon. Carol Dawson, Renee Maxey, Ed Yensho, Nancy Rodland, Will Kirk, Travis Witt (by proxy), Dean Welty, Dr. Steve “Doc” Troxel, Stephen Kurtz, Jeffrey Adams, Anne Fitzgerald, Mark Hile, Mike Ginsberg, Hon. Susan Lascolette, Vinson Palathingal, Dewey McDonell, Susan Edwards, Mark Sell, Mauricio Tamargo, Hon. David Suetterlein, Morton Blackwell
Members who voted against a convention are Kristi Way, Thomas Turner, Hon. John Cosgrove, Victoria Bisel, Sarah Curran (by proxy), Miki Miller, Carole de Triquet, Levin Turner, Ian Waite, Jill Cook, Carey Allen, Erika Dyer, Hon. Bobby Orrock (by proxy), Jeff Ryer, Tara Carroll, Elizabeth Lankford, Bill Curtis, Nancy Dye, Wesley Edwards, Bill Coburn, Nicholas Profitt, Dennis Free, Elizabeth Butler, Adam Tolbert, Amanda Batten, Zack Thompson, Tyler Lester, Marcy Hernick (by proxy), Ron Wright, Ken Nunnenkamp, Tom Callahan, Linda Bartlett, Marie Quinn, Cole Trower (by proxy), Hon. Mark Cole
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John Fredericks is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia Star.
He is also a Trump 2020 delegate and the chairman of the Trump Virginia Delegation.