May 3, 2008
No big surprise: In Lexington this afternoon, the Sixth District Republican Committee voted 15-8 to recognize Kurt Michael as Chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee. This was in spite of a recommendation to the contrary made by Vito Gentile (appointed as a fact-finder by Sixth District Chairman Fred Anderson), in spite of Michael's refusal to cooperate with mediation efforts, and in spite of the escalating scandal he brought to the local Republican Party by taking the issue to court.
Later [Earlier] in the meeting, Mr. Anderson narrowly turned back a challenge for his post by Jim Crosby.* See newsleader.com. Until more details emerge about the rationale and arguments made on both sides, there is not much point to commenting further on the merits of the decision. Whether the candidate who won more votes in Augusta County (Larry Roller) will appeal this decision to the RPV Central Committee remains to be seen. If he does, it will be interesting to see if Lynn Mitchell, who [cited "Yankee Phil" to suggest that] called on Fred Anderson to [should] recuse himself** from the Michael-Roller dispute, will recuse herself when the Central Committee takes up the matter. She is certainly much more partial in this case than Mr. Anderson is. And if Kurt does win the next round, we will have to see whether he will follow through on his promise to resign. As of today, that commitment actually means something.
* (Crosby served as a supposedly "neutral" mediator when the Staunton Republican Committee was in a state of turmoil last fall, but his main function seemed to be to squelch testimony by committee members on our side. It later became known that he is an ally of Michael and the "SWAC Jobs.")
Since I'm right in the middle of this dispute, I can't pretend to offer an impartial perspective on the recent meltdown in Augusta County, or of Kurt Michael's tumultuous reign as County GOP Chair. That's why I refrain from claiming that our side's candidate (Larry Roller) won, even though it's pretty obvious to me. I would merely like to point out that "war" was declared by Kurt Michael himself in March 2006, nearly a year before the primary campaign of Scott Sayre began, which he falsely claimed was the time when the problems began. In other words, the early skirmishes of the "SWAC War" which had us so puzzled were merely the first step in the long-range plan to unseat State Senator Emmett Hanger.
As I gradually get caught up with the blogosphere, I have come across some interesting and thoughtful perspectives on this tragic situation. If you want a truly "fair and balanced" take on the underlying problem in SWAC Land, just read what Stephen Winslow has to say about Kurt's "sad legacy."
At Roanoke Red Zone, meanwhile, Zak Moore berated Michael for circumventing the party organization and taking the matter to court, calling those tactics "Absolutely disgusting." (And he doesn't know the half of it!) After the Augusta County GOP mass meeting fiasco last month, co-blogger Brandon Bell (a former State Senator) called the Kurt Michael faction the "Phone Booth Republicans," as in that's how many people will be left in the party when they're done wreaking havoc. Bell noted that Michael took "advantage of the parliamentary technicality and def[ied] the will of the majority. Some leader, huh?"
** Corrections made a day later; see Sunday's blog post for an explanation.