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Time to Call a Spade a Spade by Ron L. Hedlund

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I believe in conventions, but I no longer believe in the people who run them.”  R. L. Hedlund

Going back to 1993, as chairman of the Alleghany County, Covington and Clifton Forge GOP units, I have always been a staunch supporter of conventions as our party’s preferred, if not exclusive, method of nominating candidates for statewide office.

I remember leading the Alleghany Highlands contingent of roughly one dozen delegates to the Richmond Coliseum (there was only 1 this year at JMU) where we nominated George Allen, Mike Farris and Jim Gilmore.  That selection was vilified by establishment Republicans, as the most extreme, right wing ticket ever, with absolutely zero chance of taking out the democrats, led by Mary Sue Terry.

Today, we have the same question before us, only now, I am a member of the State Central Committee and am called upon to cast a vote for either a state-run open primary or a party-run convention.  I will not waste ink or electrons arguing pros and cons of each.  We’ve all heard them. But let me add, what good does it do the grassroots to have strong, competing  grassroots candidates and their campaigns cheated out of a nomination at a party-run convention? Those folks go away with revenge on their minds, not party loyalty. And many of them go away, never to be seen again.

What I have gained today, is much more insight as to how our party is run behind the curtain, and more importantly, the character of those who are running our party. We need to shine more light on our party leaders, even if it exposes more of my own faults.

facebook_1472164777480(1)Two years ago, I got back into hardcore politics with Dave Brat and the Brat Pack during that historic primary.  If you want to read the inside baseball account of what it took to make political history, read “How to Bag a Rino” by Gray Delaney and Zach Werrell.  After the 2014 primary, I stepped out of politics again, but not for ten years this time.  When Vince Haley decided to run for state senate six months later, I offered to volunteer my services.

Another grueling primary campaign against three formidable opponents.  Congratulations to Siobhan Stolle Dunnavant, the eventual winner.

After the spring state senate primary, a presidential nomination loomed.  Having worked alongside fellow right wing, Tea Party conservatives in both the Brat and Haley primaries, I made many friends with Ted Cruz supporters and considered myself one among them.  Ted Cruz even endorsed Vince Haley for state senate.

I had great aspirations for Senator Cruz and it was not until July of last year, that I was asked by my good friend, fellow VCDL member and Chairman of the Hopewell GOP, Brandon Howard, to back Donald Trump for President. I was one of the very first volunteers to get on board with the Trump campaign in Virginia. And I have no intention of getting off.

I liked what I saw.  An outsider, like Dave Brat.  A man who could see through the chatter and fog and analyze players, strategies and personalities like Vince Haley.

I have stuck with Trump through thick and thin.  He has the moxy to bring the power brokers to the table and make them play on his terms, not theirs. I admire Trump and his innate ability to peel back the layers of false pretenses and get to the matter at hand. He speaks what I and many of the disenfranchised are thinking. And what Trump has consistently said is that the system is rigged. And it is. The hardline Cruz apologists will argue that Trump simply does not know how the system works and that it does not matter what the voters think, it only matters how many delegates you bring to convention. I used to believe that too.

Last fall, the SCC voted to institute a mandatory party pledge for the March 2016 primary. I was not on SCC then, but I vigorously fought the pledge as antithetical to the Tea Party and independent voter that would be attracted to Trump.  Many of the same type attracted to Ronald Reagan. After repeatedly being rebuffed and then told by Chairman Whitbeck that it was too late to repeal the pledge, on January 15 this year, Vince Haley filed to run against Whitbeck for RPV Chairman and within 2 weeks, SCC voted UNANIMOUSLY to repeal the contentiously passed pledge with no public discussion whatsoever.  NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION, WHATSOEVER! Miracle of miracles. After the vote, Whitbeck whispered in my ear, “You can call your dogs off now.” With no pledge to run against, and a lack of financial support, Vince ceased campaigning for chairman, while I began earnestly campaigning for SCC.

I realized I had serious issues with what I found going on inside the party, with their secretive executive session meetings and I thought I could help make a difference to the good.  With Vince out of the race, John Whitbeck turned his attention and retribution, toward the 7th District SCC ticket.  Our ticket was supported by the Conservative Fellowship wing of the SCC.  We ended up winning 2-1, in spite of the Chairman’s efforts and big money, to sway the outcome.

But it is the Cruz-heavy, Conservative Fellowship with which, I now find myself at odds.  The single biggest principle upon which CF members are united behind, is the choice of conventions as the method of nomination for statewide candidates. But apparently, that was not the case last year when the SCC voted for a presidential primary with breakaway Fellowship support.

How did I arrive at this point? When Whitbeck tried to exert undue influence in the 7th District SCC race, Vince Haley decided to reconstitute his campaign for party Chairman and I joined back up with him, against the advice of several close political allies. Haley For Chairman, Part II was a real eye opener for Vince and me. Sausage making at its worst. Nominations and Rules Committee members, some hand picked by Ken Cuccinelli and John Whitbeck, rigged the system against Vince. Their meetings and deliberations were kept secret and members were instructed by RPV leadership. If you attended the state convention at JMU, you can appreciate the truly monumental disaster that it was. More of the same, only now, the backstabbing was closer to home.

To top it off, you had the Cuccinelli-led, national delegate selection debacle that will forever be a festering scab on the party and the work we try to accomplish electing Republicans. It wasn’t just about salvaging a Cruz nomination. It was about extracting revenge and retribution on Corey Stewart and others. Even writing this article raises concerns for me. We have an election to win in November. Will this piece ultimately hinder our efforts at party organization and winning for the ticket? There is NEVER a good time to deal with serious, inner party issues in Virginia. We have elections every year.

That is one reason for putting off this nomination vote until AFTER November. No matter what method we choose, there will be gnashing of teeth and perpetual hand-wringing. But I suspect we will not put it off. And should I find myself forced to pick convention or primary Saturday, I find myself now seriously considering a primary for one simple, but monumental reason. I no longer trust many of those with whom I have associated for running a fair and open convention.

Tuesday night, I found myself at serious odds with the Fellowship. One of the newly elected leadership team vigorously  stated that if anyone on the call was not supportive of moving the SCC meeting to Loudoun County as suggested by Whitbeck, in his opinion, we were no longer a part of the Fellowship and should hang up immediately. So I hung up immediately and I must assume I am no longer a part of the Fellowship. Eight others on that call voted against moving the meeting. Did they change their votes or are they no longer considered a part of the Fellowship? It turns out, a total of 47 members of the entire SCC are in agreement that it was a bad idea to move the meeting at such a late date and with such a contentious agenda scheduled.

After hanging up, I had to wonder why there was such an unreasonable effort to give Whitbeck an absolute unanimous vote of support for relocation from the Fellowship. The Chairman had already conceded at the start of the call that the then current, SCC vote was 28-8, opposed to relocation.

If you have a weak stomach for conspiracy theories, please skip this paragraph. And know that this is more than just a theory. The biggest reason the Fellowship was pushing the Whitbeck relocation idea, was to create a slight geographic advantage for a convention vote victory. Primary supporters in the 4th and 2nd districts would have a further distance to drive and might possibly miss the meeting. These are the kind of dirty, underhanded, backroom political tricks I had come to know from our opponents. Now, it was coming from our own people who helped get me elected to SCC. People angry at me for not, “seeing the bigger picture.”

Talk about rigging the system! And let me point out that the same person who demanded lockstep unanimity on the concall, is the same person who made the original motion to institute the mandatory party pledge in the presidential primary. A Cruz supporter. Purely coincidental.

The Fellowship is not only attempting to rig the SCC vote. Even within our own internal proceedings for nominating candidates for SCC offices, they rigged the system to keep out unwanted candidates. They did the very same thing Whitbeck has been criticized for doing. They put their thumb on the scale to unduly influence the outcome for officer nominations. I nearly left the Fellowship over that incident back in June. But cooler heads prevailed.

I realize there will be those who now consider me a traitor for having pledged to support a convention, even as late as Tuesday night on the concall. But I can take heart in the advice of my original choice for President, Ted Cruz. I will vote my conscience Saturday. How ironic is it to now possibly find myself lumped together with that other infamous convention traitor, John Whitbeck?

As much as it pains me to say this, until RPV can prove to me our conventions will be run fairly and transparently, you can expect me to remain on the primary side of the aisle. One small step in that direction is a revamping of the method of nomination and election of our at-large national convention delegates at our state conventions. We have three years to get this right, and that is why I am supporting the resolution offered by Sandy Bourne.  Voter disenfranchisement and rigging the system, if we have not learned anything from Trump, HAS TO STOP!

I still can’t believe I wrote this. I was advised not to for fear that the Fellowship would come after me and try to have me removed from SCC. Some of those no longer on SCC were Fellowship members who voted for the primary last year. If I am ultimately forced out, it only proves my point how extremist their leadership has become. To those of you convention supporters who voted for me, I sincerely apologize. My goal is to work with all sides to get to the point where SCC is responsible for administering a fair and open process that invites more grassroots voters, and not get lost in the weeds being focused on individual candidates and their win-at-any-cost campaigns.

I ran for SCC on a platform of transparency. That is why I am letting my constituents know what I am thinking as I head into the Saturday meeting. Even if we have a secret ballot, which I will vote against, I want you to know how disgusted I am with the rigged system. How will we ever expect to attract good and decent people like Vince Haley and 5th District congressional candidate, Michael Del Rosso (who happened to be a Trump surrogate speaker on national security issues in Cleveland), and keep people like them in the party, if we don’t clean up our own act?

It can be done if we work together. I know this because we are doing it in Henrico County with our new Chairman, Eddie Whitlock. He has been a true conservative statesman and gentleman to work with. If you are happy with the status quo and our rigged conventions, move along. There is an alternative. What do we have to lose? A republic?

Ron Hedlund

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

14 Responses to “Time to Call a Spade a Spade by Ron L. Hedlund”

  1. Kirby Harris
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have a third way. I think there should be no state run, taxpayer funded anything. If a party wants to nominate a candidate within their party to run for office, then they should pay for it. If you think conventions limit who can participate and divide the party, then have a primary. But advocate a primary paid for by the party, and get rid of ALL taxpayer funded party nominating contests. The GOP is supposed to be the party of free markets and limited government. A state ran, taxpayer funded primary is neither. I see socialist supporting taxpayer funding of things that should be done privately, but not the GOP.

  2. lawrence wood says:

    I want to personally thank you for your open candor on both the Virginia Conservative Fellowship and their maniacal focus on ensuring that a convention process becomes the standard for the state. It’s only in the past few months that I as an average voting citizen have come to recognize the true nature and operational style of this group of individuals. They made a very critical political mistake and overplayed their hand both at the state’s presidential primary convention following it up at the national convention with further embarrassing political machinations.

    Typical voters like myself may well be slow at times on picking up the true political end goals vs the high-flying rhetoric but they are coming to fully recognize that one party wing of slaters and manipulators is no better then the other. What still amazes me is that they fully exposed there true operational style and end goals over a candidate like Ted Cruz who never had any reasonable chance to win the presidential nomination and will be lucky to retain his Texas Senate seat if primaried as is likely. Hubris killed the Cantor wing but sheer political stupidity will be the demise of the Fellowship. You might be able to rig some of the things some of the time but not all of the things all of the time. A lesson Ken Cuccinelli and his minions have yet to learn.

    The base is coming up to speed and becoming wiser to the con rapidly. You have done your electoriate a large favor in penning the fact on these issues.

  3. Vic Nicholls says:

    Dr. Dunnavant and Dr. Stolle (along with other MD’s and health profession board legislators) have known about issues with doctors and did nothing. They don’t respond to any one.

    They know there is/was a Tenn. pill mill doc working in this state when they were to be in jail awaiting sentancing. They have known about a few other doctors that have molestation charges.

    Doing nothing.

  4. Connie Stevens
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very interesting article; thanks, Ron Hedlund! I too have soured on Conventions because at our State Convention I saw firsthand how corrupt they could be. The lack of transparency, the bullying “might makes right” and “end justifies the means” unsavory tactics. And the unrepresentative slating crammed down our throats.

    But I find myself less concerned with the question of convention versus primary than I do about the secret societies which appear to really be running the RPV.

    These two secret societies are the Virginia Conservative Network (VCN)and the Conservative Fellowship (CF) and each are vying for power over the other. They are inner cabals – parties withing the party. And rank-and-file Republicans are the losers. Virginia Republicans lose because their party representatives, at all levels of the party – from unit chair to the State Central Committee – MAY be members of one of these two secret societies, and their constituents just don’t know.

    These secret societies – be it CF or VCN – are the exact opposite of transparency and accountability. They are the epitome of backroom deals.

    It seems to me – before we vote for party leadership positions & delegates, etc – we have the right to know if the candidates are members of these secret societies: either the Virginia Conservative Network or Conservative Fellowship. Because if they are – their FIRST allegiance is NOT going to be to their constituents, but to the secret societies. THEY (the secret society), or more precisely their leader, will tell their member (YOUR representative) HOW he should vote. Or at least there’s a lot of arm twisting.

    Let me be clear. If my party representative is a member of one of these secret societies, he (my representative) may not necessarily be listening to ME, but to the secret society – and voting how the secret society tells him to. I most definitely have the right to know that.

    These secret societies are rigging the system. And that’s a bad thing. I’m looking forward to more information coming out on these secret societies – and what their goals are. We need more sunshine in our party.

    • lawrence wood says:

      You have a clear and relevant point it would seem not just reasonable but necessary for any valid Republican candidate to openly lay out all of their internal political policy associations that form any extra party platform political commitments to the voter upon election or re-election. Lacking a willingness to adhere to this request voters should avoid placing any vote for these candidates regardless of there campaign statements. Lack of openness is ALWAYS a sign for trouble ahead in elective politics!

  5. View from Scott Walker's Bald Spot says:

    Have Anita and Mark Hile and their puppet masters Russ Moulton and Nancy Smith checked into Retreat Hospital for treatment of their nervous breakdowns over this post?

  6. Gloucester Tea Party says:

    Apparently, Russ Moulton is completely apoplectic over Hedlund’s revelations about the corruption of the Republican conventions in Virginia.

    Thanks Mr. White: You are a Patriot for allowing VA Right to shed light on this critical issue.

    SUNSHINE IS INDEED THE VERY BEST DISINFECTANT.

    Mr. Hedlund’s principles have not been compromised.

  7. GOOCHLAND TEA PARTY PATRIOT says:

    Goochland Tea Party is playing “I’m More Conservative than Ron Hedlund” with Dewey and Susan.
    READ MEMO BELOW:

    FACT IS …. Ben Slone is an operator for VCN and the Fellowship- double agent. Susan Lascolette is a pawn in Slone’s Chess Game. Dewey on the other hand is just clueless.

    RUMORS SAY it is Slone that is encouraging Dave Brat to run for US Senate so the VCN can appoint Delegate Peter Farrell to Congress.

    Read this as a Cautionary Tale…………..

    FROM THE GOOCHLAND TEA PARTY TODAY:

    This is a must read email – An important State Central Committee vote occurs tomorrow at 10:00 am about the choice of a Primary vs Convention.
    View this email in your browser

    Interesting question.
    I personally don’t think so, but a topic has come up that made me ask it to myself, and now I share it with you.
    This email will take a little time to read through – but I promise you – it’s worth absorbing.
    An important State Central Committee vote occurs on this tomorrow at 10:00 am.

    The issue of Primary vs Convention

    The general conservative rule is Conventions are better.
    A few of the factors why are:

    Conservatives generally don’t fare well in Primaries, moderates typically do better.
    The tax payer foots the bill for Primaries (except for a firehouse primary)

    So now we have a conflict on this issue and your input is being sought.
    Essentially, Ron Hedlund, a genuine hard-core conservative, has enough concerns and doubts about whether a convention can be trusted, given the way the State convention went with what so clearly seemed like deliberately manipulated voice votes, etc. that he, as a member of the State Central Committee, now must change his position and vote instead for a Primary.

    I like and admire Ron, and I too had a very unpleasant feeling at the State convention.

    I also like and admire Susan Lascollette, and Dewey McDonnell, both also immensely sensible hard-core conservatives and, like Ron, elected members of the State Central Committee. They weren’t fans of the way the State convention was handled either, but they see that as a problem that must and can be fixed, and they are firmly standing by their promised choice of a Convention, not a Primary.

    Ron has published his views here. Susan’s views are found here.

    Please take time to review this material now and communicate with Ron if you want him to change his stance, or communicate with Susan if you think Ron is right. Their contact info can be found in the links provided above.

    Ron really tugs at the heart, I know just how he feels. Susan is straight forward and practical, I recognize her mind.

    So can conservative principles conflict? No, not really.
    Strategies and convictions however, can. Even among us.

  8. VCN BROTHERHOOD says:

    QUICK CALL 911

    RUSS MOULTON IS REALLY HAVING DIFFICULTY BREATHING….

    PLEASE VOTE FOR A PRIMARY TOMORROW TO PUT HIM OUT OF HIS SELF INDUCED MISERY.

    EUTHANASIA?

  9. MR green jeans
    Twitter:
    says:

    “BROKEN ARROW REPEAT BROKEN ARROW!”

  10. AmyH says:

    Ron… By voting for a primary, you are voting to allow Democrats to choose our candidates and, bottom line, you broke a campaign promise by voting the way you did.

    That makes you as faithless as any of the people you have (rightly in most instances) complained about.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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