Let’s See What Happens

By Too Conservative

I’m not sure why I find the maneuverings at the Prince William GOP Committee so interesting. I sit here in Fairfax, where almost nothing interesting happens, so maybe this is my way of living vicariously.Â

Virginia Virtucon is reporting that Tom Kopko has a legal opinion in hand from RPV counsel that clears the way for a convention on the 19th of August to pick a candidate for the race to succeed Sean Connaughton. According to Mr. Riley, this opinion will be unveiled tomorrow. Charles and a few others (including me) have asked why the rush. No one knows when Connaughton will be confirmed and sworn in, and no one really knows when Connaughton will formalize his resignation. A couple of commentators have asked why RPV, as opposed to some unit of the Commonwealth’s electoral board, would make the decision. In an extreme hypothetical, something could go wrong with the Connaughton nomination and his run in 2007 for a third term will require a primary (Connaughton’s weapon of choice) while the GOP 2006 nominee becomes a “real nowhere man.” A candidate without and election. How messy.

I find it a little hard to believe RPV would be very excited about pre-vacancy nominating conventions. It seems like a lot could go blooey with something like that. I’m far from expert on the intricacies of Virginia election law, but tracing through the statutes generously posted by Virtucon and others, it seems clear that, at least in Prince William, the vacancy is the catalyst that starts a process of a court-appointed election date, from which a filing deadline is constructed.  Without a vacancy, nothing happens. When the vacancy falls within 60 days of a regularly scheduled general election, the Code contemplates that the general election date will coincide with the date of the special election.Â

Because 25 August is the filing deadline for the upcoming November 2006 general election, the rationale from the PW GOP Committee seems to be that there must be a nomination prior to that date or the GOP (and presuambly the Dems, also)will be without a candidate. The statute seems to anticipate that problem by giving the electoral board the authority to designate a filing deadline (presumably distinct from that which governs the regularly-scheduled general election) .

At first I naively pooh-poohed the notion that the PW GOP Chairman would have any partisan position in what essentially is a intra-party process. It seems he himself has shown me to have ridiculously over-estimated his judiciousness in his first outing of managing an important event for the Party. He has a candidate and must feel this quick response convention is a good thing for his guy. But, quite aside from that sort of tactical maneuvering, why would RPV want conventions to take place before vacancies? Would RPV’s counsel opine on such a thing without close consultation with governing elements of RPV? I have no doubt Virtucon was told by Kopko or someone close to Kopko that they have an opinion in hand, but I’m very curious about the fine points of the “opinion”, and its level of formality. I’d also be interested in the content of the input that led to the opinon (assuming that there is an opinion).  Lawyers sometimes offer opinions thinking they understand the underlying facts, only to discover that some critical element has been omitted or misstated by the requesters. After getting burned a few times, one learns how to smoke that out or qualify it away. But if RPV counsel has issued an opinion clearing the way for a pre-vacancy nomination, it will be a hum-dinger and we all ought to give it a careful read. It will have to be finely wrought indeed or the PW GOP may be about to get an omelette facial. And then we come to the next question of who decides. Is an RPV opinion the end of the story, or is the matter subject to guidance from local or state election authorities?Â

This will no doubt be made clear in the fullness of time, starting tomorrow evening. My reservations may be entirely misplaced, but I have a feeling that even the kind of primitive brainstorming that I’ve been doing here has not taken place among whomever is making decisions at the PW GOP. What do you think?


  • Anon says:

    This is a great post. You are absolutely correct about Kopko having his guy. Furthermore, this short time frame would inherently limit participation as it affords less time for people to get involved in the process. Tom Kopko ran on a platform of growing the party and to this point he has done anything but. I know that some will say that a convention is not a party building event, but is a nominating event. But must it be yet another party dividing event? Do we really need to start this campaign under the umbrella of suspicion and mistrust? Is that how we grow the party, active PWCRC member or just GOP voter? The whole thing smacks of favoritism and back room dealing. And for a county that has started to trend blue, a divided and suspicious home base only serves to help the Democrats, who I am sure are sitting back and enjoying the show.

    I for one hope that the PWCRC show that there are more members interested in doing what is right, fair and clearly above board, than interested in selling their souls for a quick nominating process to push their guy through. They may very well find that they will win the battle and lose the war.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    In the interest of completeness, I should have mentioned that events beyond the Occoquan could make the dates fall into line. It’s possible (but not particularly probable) that Connaughton will resign today and that Kopko’s choice of the 19th will work out just fine. But we still have the basic problem of a system that seems geared to the existence of a “vacancy,” and we have not vacancy.

    Another “balance” point is that I have no problem with a local committee chairman having strong positive feelings about an incumbent. It is not realistic to ask that these guys completely bury their personal preferences. I do think, however, that they need to project some detachment about process and not be clearly identified in one camp or another when the incumbent is stepping down and there may be several contenders to succeed him/her.

  • Anon says:

    NOVA Scout- Do you know something we don’t? Is Sean going to resign today? That is what your post made it sound like and I would like clarification before that rumor gets too much steam behind it.

  • I agree with NoVA Scout completely on this. What we seem to have here is a rush to a judgement where the “need for speed” is questionable at best. And, this certainly leads rational people to question the motivations behind seemingly rash decisions.

    The manner in which the PWCGOP handles this probably vacancy will go a long way in determining the future growth and success of the organization. Stark divisions clearly exist within the party, and success in future elections depends on unity. This unity will prove impossible if some can reasonably conclude that this situation was handled immaturely or in an effort to favor a specific candidate. Thus far, the returns do not look promising.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    No, I know nothing about his plans. I’m only saying that as strange as it seems to me that the Committee has charged headlong into what appears to be an unnecessary complication, the dates could work out for them if Connaughton were to resign very quickly. I think the educated guesses are that he would not resign until sometime in September, and that’s where my money would be if I had any money. My reference in the original post to “tomorrow [MOnday] evening” was based on Virtucon’s information that Kopko had a legal opinion from John Padgett that would be revealed tonight.

  • James Young says:

    Wow! NoVA Scout trashes the GOP in virtually complete ignorance of its processes (particularly impressive is how oblivious he is to the nature of opinions from RPV counsel)! He casts in a light as suspicious and negative as possible the efforts of a local party Chairman to insure that the GOP has a nominee in the event of a prompt special election, never mind that the GOP Chairman in question is assuming the success of the man “NoVA Scout” either is or for whom he serves as pissboy (see “History of the World, Part I”). And then there’s the “Amen Chorus” of Mitch Cumstain who, seeing that County Republicans actually want a Republican as their nominee, and not someone who will act like a Democrat, who treats us to his vision of “Party unity,” i.e., “My way, all the time, or I take my ball and go home!”

    Stop the presses and alert the media!

    What silliness! If Chairman Sean’s nomination blows up, then this convention (which I won’t even attend, BTW, having a long-planned family vacation) will waste a little money, and the nominee will not face embarassment, but will merely have positioned himself in the event of a very likely happenstance.

    The really funny thing is that Chairman Sean’s apologists are the ones who are clearly without a clue here, you “Revered Guardians of the Mainstream”! The GOP agrees that this is the prudent course. The Democrats agree that this is the prudent course. Yet here you are, so desparate to hang on to power for your faction yet with such certitude that — right now — you’ve got no one quite ready for Prime Time, that you have to trash virtually every one engaging in the prudent course.


  • a different anon says:

    Then why is it (and I know that NoVA Scout doesn’t really know) that the “legal opinion” from Mr. Padgett (who I assume works for RPV or we wouldn’t care) is only going to be revealed tonight? If it’s so darned conclusive, then why didn’t he send it to the committee with the proposal for the convention? If it is as clear as he seems to think it is, and he had sent it out last week, I would have read it and said, “well, I guess we CAN have the convention afterall” and this post would be meaningless. But as it is, Kopko’s “secret weapon” of this letter seems suspect at best. My guess is that the letter is either vague, non-existant or has a BIG loophole in it.

  • Anon says:

    “My way, all the time, or I take my ball and go home!” Pot Thy Name is Kettle! LOL and falling off chair.

  • James Young says:

    Anon 10:33, you’re an idiot. I have continuously been a Member of the PWC GOP Committee since its inception in late 1991. Since we don’t know who you are, I suppose you can make any claim you want to, but it is doubtful that you have a credential superior to that one, or one which so thoroughly disproves your nonsensical statement. “Mitch” claims to have once been a Member, but quit/let his membership lapse in a fit of pique. Hence, my apropos comment.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    James: not everything in the world swirls around Connaughton. I think ths has little to do with him. Of course, his resignation is the kick-off event for the process, but once that has happened he’s on to other things. I know it’s helpful to have bogeymen for certain purposes, but I see very little about this that has to do with Connaughton. I guess I get interested because I’m one of the Republicans who likes the Party to look like it knows what it’s doing, both internally and externally. This may all work out smoothly, but I’m a little surprised that they wouldn’t just wait to announce the method when the vacancy is confirmed.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    P.S.: James: Your 1026 comment suddenly gives me a revelation. Maybe the haste to schedule this for the 19th has to do with the fact that you are going to be out of town on that date. Now it’s beginning to make a lot more sense to me. It often happens that superior minds to mine have a hidden agenda that they’re too polite to articulate, but that is compelling despite the surface impression that their acts are not well thought through. I’m beginning to come around on this.

  • a different anon says:

    WOW!! He managed to mention his long tenure in the committee, criticize anonymity on blogs, imply that NoVA Scout is really Sean Connaughton, spell “Cumstein” as “Cumstain”, call someone an “idiot” and use the word “pissboy” ALL in a single thread and in just two comments. If he had just used the word “sycophant” sooner, he probaby would have set a record.

    Remember the old PWCRC rule: If Jim Young is angry at you, you’ve probably done something right.

  • a different anon says:

    And Jim… P.S. “History of the World: Part 1” sucked. That’s the movie that proved that even Mel Brooks can screw up sometimes. It had one mildy funny moment and scatalogical humor wears old almost as fast as you do. It’s about as funny as you are charming.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    “narcissistic” is one of my favourite Youngisms

  • Not Jack Herrity says:

    Wow, wow, easy there Anon. Let’s not go getting crazy by trashing perfectly good Mel Brooks-inspired scatological humor. I was with you all the way up to then…


  • anonymous says:

    What is the democrat party doing specifically in reference to this potential vacancy? They would have the same deadline as the republicans for a convetion (presuming that this deadline is exactly as portrayed). Are the dems going to have a convention? A primary? I know Gary Friedman is running – anyone else potentially in the mix on their side?

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    There once was as RINO named Connaughton.
    Whose admirers don’t want forgotten.
    Resigning now will open up his private can,
    The flushing of his entrenched liberalism just began.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Bad poetry about toilets, Molleur? Elevate your mind, man.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Well, those of you attending tonight’s meeting, please give us a report, on or off the record, about whether Mr. Kopko indeed has a green light from RPV and Mr. Padgett, RPV’s General Counsel. If so, be sure to ask for a copy of the request that went to Padgett stating the facts on which the opinion was to be based and ask, in particular, whether Mr. Padgett was clearly aware that a judge has not established a special election date and that a vacancy does not exist. I’m very curious to hear what goes on.

  • I wish Fairfax was this interesting

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Yeah, MC, me too (in a way).

  • charles says:

    Meeting was pretty boring. There was little complaint about the actual convention, maybe 15 people voted no out of a hundred or so. More voted to keep talking about the vote, but it seems talk was unnecessary.

    While I don’t like the rush, I DO understand the advantages, not the least of which is having a candidate who can start running ads and raising money and be “the republican candidate” whenever the race is written about.

    For example, the day Sean actually is confirmed, if we have a candidate, that candidate’s name will be mentioned IN the articles about Sean’s resignation from the board, which will be a good boost.

    At WORST, the convention will be illegal. Someone will note that it was illegal, and will ask for a new convention. We will have a new convention, and waste a couple thousand dollars.

    On the other hand, if we DON’T do this now, and Sean resigns in the next two weeks, we could well end up spending a third of the election cycle waiting around to find out who our candidate is.

    Anyway, that’s my report from the meeting. I didn’t hear any possible candidates for the seat complain about the timing or the process — but then again, so far as I could tell Maureen didn’t have a representative, which I hope just means she trusts the committee to act fairly, NOT that she has given up her run or is not running as a republican.

    There WERE people who felt it was illegal to have a convention before there was a vacancy. I’m not sure, but I haven’t found any reason in the state election code to suggest that any process followed by a party in accordance to it’s rules would cause any trouble — the state law deals more with the candidates picked, not how the parties pick the candidates.

    Whether RPV has rules that preclude this or not is an interesting question. We have a legal ruling that it’s OK, and historical evidence that this has been done before.

    I am hopeful that the vacancy WILL exist before the convention, just so there is no reason for a losing candidate to sew dissent.

  • Had to Say says:

    You know it is the far right that keep it interesting. Boy some of the things that are said and done .

  • James Young says:

    Re: Post 12 — Actually, coward, the more frequently-followed rule is that you ignore my procedural advice at your peril. Maybe if you had the guts to reveal your identity, we could discuss how many times you’ve been bitten by your childish petulance.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Charles: Thanks for the report. Sounds like there was little appetite for a robust discussion on the merits of this unorthodox approach. BTW, I haven’t seen this legal opinion. Can anyone tell us more about it? I wonder if it was clear to the writer that no vacancy has occurred and no special election has been called.

    Re comment 24 – Jim: you’re beginning to sound like a villain in a Batman Comic. I hope either you’re joking or someone’s posting using your name just to embarrass you, but I suspect this is the true you.

  • James Young says:

    Gee, there’s that high level of discourse again, “NoVA Scout”: belittlement. Of course, I suppose I could take your course, and make elaborate, unverifiable claims about myself. You sanctimonious boob. No wonder you hide your identity.

    And Charles, why, oh why, do you bother to credit the plaintive whinings of people who don’t even bother to attach their own names to their self-serving rantings? That you can still maintain doubts about the legality of the course chosen simply demonstrates that you’re spending a little too much time — and giving waaaay too much credit — to people who hide their identities with good reason. Talk about “sowing discord”!

  • James Young says:

    And besides, “NoVA Scout,” a villian in a Batman comic is probably a good counterpoint to your Wizard persona. One can only imagine that, when unmasked, you’re far more like the Richard Pryor buffoon than the Frank Morgan incarnation.

  • AWCheney says:

    Young accusing someone of “childish petulance” is like…the KKK accusing someone of discrimination, or Ted Bundy accusing someone of misogeny, or John Dean accusing someone of lying, or…Jimmy Young accusing someone of name-calling, or sanctimony, or inflated ego, or…well, you get the picture.

  • James Young says:

    Leave it to OWW to confuse principled stands with “childish petulance.” Sadly, she can’t even tell the difference any more. Perhaps it’s a function of age, but it could just as easily be a function of excessive bile.

    Of course, AWCheney criticizing anyone is a whole lot like Lassie calling someone a “bitch.”

  • AWCheney says:

    You really are losing it Jimmy, if you can’t do any better than that.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    This thread has disintegrated far enough. I’m declaring it closed. We’ll find another way to address relevant substantive issues in a later post that will be policed (with a gentle but just hand) for deportment.

  • Grapes says:

    Jiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmbooooooo Young!

    Merciful missiology Jimbo, that is no way to treat a distinguished woman like Anke. Where is your class, boy? Show some courtesy, boy, and address Anke with the respect she has earned or t and I will be fightin’ mad. You hear me, boy?

  • charles says:

    I don’t know what closed means. James, I’m not really giving anonymous people “credit” for the thought the convention might not be legal. I just was reporting that one or two people at the meeting said they thought it was illegal. They weren’t anonymous, we all know who the one person was but I didn’t feel that was important, as I am not passing judgment or offering testimony as to the credibility of the source or the information.

    My feeling is that I’d rather have an illegal convention and have to do it again later, than to wait for the vacancy and then have a third of the campaign lost while we go through the process of picking our nominee. Therefore, I no longer care that much about the legality, which I have NO REASON to question but also do not have the legal expertise to offer an independent evaluation.

  • James Young says:

    My wife heard the same thing, probably from the same so-called “type-a” types that you heard it from. It will go NO WHERE. No judge in his right mind would interfere with the discretionary calls of a political committee … Democrat OR Republican. If they want to spend money pursuing it, they will accomplish only two things: (1) they will waste their money on a futile cause, with the advantage that they won’t spend it advancing the cause of so-called “moderates”; and (2) they will damage the GOP nominee.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    I largely concur that this isn’t an issue of legality. It’s an issue of wisdom. I haven’t heard anyone, even among those who think this is one of the silliest things they have ever seen, say that there is or should be a legal resolution. If RPV had its wits about it (a dubious hypothetical) it would send a SWAT team to straighten everyone out and demand that people behave like grown-ups.

    RPV really should care about this. It should drive them nuts that local committees ever would or could have nominating conventions for non-vacancies. The precedent is horrible. Despite the frequently alluded to “legal opinion” from RPV, I suspect that there is nothing more than a misinformed exchange of phone calls or e-mails and that, if one looked behind them, one would find that the premises of the question are faulty (for example, it would not surprise me to find that the requesting party told RPV that the Committee was hard up against and August 25th deadline (which it is not, of course, or that a judge had indeed called a special election, or that there is some danger that if the Committee didn’t act by the 19th, they would not be able to field a candidate). Frankly, I doubt there would have been very little attraction for this approach had not partisans of one particular hopeful deemed it to be in his interest to have a pop-quiz kind of nominating scenario.

    I realize that there was no discussion of this at the meeting, so it’s hard to say attendees were misled, but there have been enough allusions by interested parties to a “legal opinion” that one could rationally conclude that someone has implied that such a thing exists. Whoever has done this is either fairly unsophisticated or is actively dissembling.

    The savvy choice would have been to make some contingency plans while awaiting the vacancy and then adjust to the reality of timing of the vacancy and resulting court order when it occurred. One also would have expected some close consultation with the current Republican incumbent. One of the huge weakness of the PW GOP Committee has been its failure to exploit the popularity of the senior Republican office holder in the County. Whatever the reasons for that failure over the past near-decade, this would have been an excellent time to work cooperatively to try to capture some of that popularity for the brand name.

    The primary consequence of all this is to have a candidate for a non-office, an office held by a Republican incumbent who may or may not decide to run again, depending on events over which he has no control at the moment. Things may fall into place or they may not. If we get into September with no vacancy and no election scheduled, everyone involved with this decision is going to look a little silly. I hate it when that happens.

  • charles says:

    The compelling argument at the meeting was NOT the August 25th deadline, which was explained in a way that made it sound like it isn’t certain it is a deadline at all.

    It was the argument that, if we wait until the actual vacancy to occur, and then try to go through all the steps necessary to have the convention, we could lose a third of the time to the process, giving the democrats 20 days of free reign, with their candidate’s name appearing alone in every story about the election.

    That’s because the election WILL take place between 45 and 75 days after the post is open (0-15 days for a judge to call the election, 45-60 days from the day he calls it).

    We voted on July 31st for a convention that will take place August 19, which is 20 days time. If a judge called the election 5 days after the resignation, and scheduled it for 45 days away, that means that we wouldn’t have a candidate until only a month was left.

    Since no prospective candidate said ANYTHING against the quick process, it’s hard for me to be upset about it. None of those who decided not to run have cited the August 19th date as the reason, and neither of the two supposedly announced candidates spoke against it, or sent out letters or e-mails urging us to slow down.

    I voted against the date anyway, but I hardly see it as a big deal. At absolute worse we have a candidate for no reason, and we have a new convention/primary/whatever for the 2007 general election, and we wasted a couple thousand bucks on this convention.

  • anonymous says:

    I do find it disheartening that the question was called IMMEDIATELY. While this is a perfectly “legal” practice, it is this very kind of action that leads some people to believe that debate and discussion are routinely stifled in the committee. If you want to build party unity, this is not the way to do it.

  • James Young says:

    “NoVA Scout,” once again, you demonstrate how utterly misinformed you are about PWC politics generally, and the GOP in particular (Post 35). Why, oh why, would the County Republican Committee surrender to Chairman Sean — that is, control (euphemized by you as “close consultation with the current Republican incumbent”) — that which he was unable to illicitly seize just over two years ago? Not that Chairman Sean has ever attempted to work cooperatively with the County GOP.

    And BTW, Chairman Sean is not “the senior Republican office holder in the County.” That is Dave Mabie, Clerk of the Circuit Court. But thank you for demonstrating yet again that Chairman Sean’s sycophants labor under the delusion that all good things Republican in PWC spring from his big toe.

    Unless I’m mistaken, the word “savvy” derives from the French verb “savoir,” to know. You give new meaning to the term “savvy,” being unfamiliar with even the basic facts.

    And Charles, I think you might be mistaken. So far as I know, Maureen has NOT announced, and Corey is the only announced candidate.

    As for Anon 37’s assessment, I wouldn’t disagree, though I voted to call the question, and worked hard to insure that parliamentary law was applied once the vote clearly favored it. Tom probably should have ruled the motion to call the question out of order, and let those advocating it seek to overrule him, rather than declaring a clear “yes” vote to be a “no” vote. The desire to move forward quickly was probably the result of two things: (1) the late hour at which the question came up, which would have been even later had I not moved to amend the agenda, with which everyone agreed; and (2) the fact that everyone there could see that the votes were there to move forward. A further debate, too, would have given more detailed context to the peurile efforts of some to monkey-wrench the process.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    James: You are so right. I misspoke. I should have said “most prominent and popular.”

  • James Young says:

    I would have accepted “most successfully self-promoting,” Sea… er, “NoVA Scout.”

  • James Young says:

    And to answer your question, “NoVA Scout,” “whomever is making decisions at the PW GOP” apparently has a little bit better handle on the realities of the political process than you do.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    How so, James? I think they almost have guaranteed the least capable candidate in the general (or special) election and have cut themselves off from the pool of possibilities. They may also stimulate independent runs by Republicans or true independents. It very much seems like a forced procedure intended to favor one candidate.

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