I have taken a special interest in the Republican Party of Virginia’s Chairman controversy. Let me tell you why.I moved to Macon, Georgia in 1993, to attend Mercer University. I had been politically active, but despite a conservative leaning campus there were no outlets for politics on campus. Consequently, I started the College Republicans at Mercer.A couple of years in, the University of Georgia, which was the largest and most heavily funded College Republican group, had for the third consecutive year maintained the Chairmanship of the Georgia Federation of College Republicans (“GFCR”). They had grown the organization, had grown the coffers of the organization, and were effectively mobilizing scores of college aged volunteers across the state. By every measure, the GFCR was a stable, healthy organization.But that wasn’t good enough for some people. Some people wanted to be Chairman and thought that it was unfair for UGA to keep getting their guy elected Chairman. To be clear — UGA couldn’t do it alone. It had to have multiple other schools help because Georgia Tech also had a large contingent of College Republicans. There was this one guy from Emory who thought he deserved to be Chairman of the College Republicans. He allied himself with Georgia Tech, but was so snide that not one of the colleges outside Atlanta would back him. In 1995 (or maybe 1996), I, my friends from Mercer, and College Republicans from across Georgia elected the third straight candidate from UGA to be the Chairman of the Georgia Federation of College Republicans. I even made the nominating speech.The guy from Emory, Jeff Frederick, led a walkout of the convention. He claimed it was rigged, which it wasn’t. He could not accept that people did not like his “all about Jeff” operating style. After he left, he tried his best to mar the reputation of the GFCR. It didn’t work. It was all about Jeff Frederick. Never once during that time did I ever think he had the best interests of the organization in mind.1So it is really kind of bizarre to be running RedState 14 years later, hear about what’s going on in Virginia and be reminded of that College Republican experience. It is even more bizarre to think about all of that without knowing who the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia is and then find out it is the same Jeff Frederick who walked out of the GFCR Convention because he couldn’t get himself elected. Nothing seems to have changed and it remains all about Jeff Frederick.There are conservative activists in Virginia who understandably rallied to Frederick because of what the moderates and liberals did to the RPV. Under the moderates and liberals, the Republicans started acting like Democrats. But let’s be clear here: Frederick has capitalized on conservative angst for his own advantage, but he too has failed to turn the RPV into anything other than his personal pocket liner — at least that’s what is being alleged.Today’s Washington Post has an article on this issue and, again, it all goes back to Jeff — not the cause:
Frederick said in an interview that he does not think the party’s leaders, McDonnell among them, will be able to turn around years of Republican losses in Virginia.”I’m very concerned about the party’s ability to win in the fall,” Frederick said. “The current track we are on will not provide the results that we need.”
It was a Frederick supporter who first, through automated phone calls, dragged Bob McDonnell into the controversy openly. The RPV has rallied around McDonnell while the Democrats are in a bloody, bloody primary. There is unity of cause and purpose. McDonnell, along with many other Republicans in Virginia, has no confidence in Frederick, whose pre-existing tenure as RPV Chairman had been uninspiring.
Frederick, 33, a conservative delegate from Prince William County, acknowledged that his pursuit of the party chairmanship could distract from McDonnell’s campaign. But Frederick blamed McDonnell and other Republican elected officials for intervening. “What they need to figure out is, they are not the party,” Frederick said. “I’m sick of things being run from the top down.”
The RPV has a chance to recapture Virginia. A once strong party has a chance to see a full slate of candidates elected to state wide office and recapture the legislature, just before the redistricting battles of 2010 begin.Frederick would rather start a party civil war because it is, at the end of the day, all about Jeff Frederick. The RPV needs to find an acceptable conservative replacement. And if they don’t, this will become bloody. Frederick won’t do what is in the best interests of the party. Bob McDonnell must lead for the good of the party. And doing so means finding a conservative replacement so the grassroots can feel comfortable finally sending Frederick packing.
The rest of the story is that the newly elected GFCR Chairman became seriously ill, forcing him to drop out of school. The 1st Vice Chairman turned out to be an absolute d-bag, squandering money from the treasury to do such things as fix his girlfriend’s car. We forced him out and I became Chairman. After undoing a lot of damage done, I drafted a new constitution and became both the last Chairman of the Georgia Federation of College Republicans and the first Chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans. I have never, ever, ever wanted to touch the CR’s after what became a terribly disheartening experience with party politics. That is also when I realized I was a conservative first, not a Republican first.↩