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Virginia Politics
Posted at 04:44 PM ET, 05/27/2011

Tito the builder protests GOP Senate nomination process

A potential state Senate candidate has cried foul over a plan for state Republicans to decide whom to nominate for the 36th district race.

On Saturday, one GOP representative each from Stafford, Fairfax and Prince William counties will decide whether to call a primary, convention, firehouse primary or mass meeting to select a nominee for the Senate seat.

Tito “the builder” Muñoz says that Prince William representative Paul Ruecker is a staunch supporter of Jeff Frederick, the ousted leader of the Republican Party of Virginia who has said he is “preparing” to also run for the seat.

Muñoz said Frederick would likely choose a convention over a primary, a method Muñoz says is unfair because it doesn’t allow for residents serving overseas to cast a vote.

“They picked a person who is a Jeff Frederick supporter, and I don’t even know the person,”said Muñoz, who hasn’t officially declared his candidacy for the seat. “These kind of [backdoor] deals are not acceptable in this country, where we believe in liberty and freedom.”

Republicans need to find a candidate who can upset Democratic Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller who has held the seat since 1999. Because Prince William makes up more than 50 percent of the Senate district, Ruecker’s vote will outweigh the others’.

“It’s true I’ve supported Jeff in the past, but I’m going to listen to the argument on both sides on what method we will engage in,” said Ruecker, who has contributed more than $1,500 to Frederick in the past. “It’s not up to the candidates who the appointee [to the committee is], but I invite Tito and Jeff to come to the meeting to express their opinions.”

As a former state delegate, Frederick said that people shouldn’t be surprised that he has friends and supporters in the district and that it is “unfair” for Muñoz to be making such accusations. Frederick declined to comment on whether he preferred a convention or primary but said that he has won both in the past.

“This is Tito’s first time doing this, and he doesn’t know what he is talking about,” Frederick said. “It is insulting he questions people’s ability to be objective. [On Saturday] nobody is even determining the nominee in this process.”

Muñoz, 50, briefly took the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign when he made an appearance onstage with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee, and gained the nickname Tito the Builder. He owns a commercial construction company and is now also a conservative Latino voice on the radio.

Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax GOP, said he has no problem with the process or with the people on the committee. It is the same model that was used in the last election, and in that case, Fairfax had the majority of the vote.

“I think a candidate should be prepared to run in any nomination process,” he said, noting that Fairfax would prefer a primary.

Also this weekend, similar Republican committees are expected to decide on their nomination processes for the 2nd District House seat and the 13th District Senate seat. Stafford County Board Chairman Mark Dudenhefer said he will run for the House seat. Prince William Supervisor John Stirrup, former state delegate Dick Black of Loudoun County and Bob FitzSimmonds of Prince William are seeking the Republican nomination for the Senate seat.

By  |  04:44 PM ET, 05/27/2011

 
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