By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 6, 2008
HOT SPRINGS, Va., Dec. 5 -- Frustrated Republican activists allowed embattled state Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick to keep his job Friday at the party's first gathering since its election losses last month.
Top party officials spoke to the Prince William County delegate about the Nov. 4 election behind closed doors with at least one member questioning his leadership, but the state GOP's governing body did not try to remove him as some had wanted, according to people who attended the session.
Frederick told the 86-member group that controls his fate that he wanted to remain its leader to win next year's elections.
"There are a lot better things I can do with my time than work 14 hours a day for free. I'm not here to fail," he said before the meeting was closed. "We can win these races, but we have to acknowledge the fact that we have a lot of challenges before us. One of those challenges is coming together."
The state party's Central Committee still might call an emergency meeting in the next couple of months to try to remove him. But several members interviewed said his opponents lack the votes.
Last month, Republicans lost a U.S. Senate seat, three U.S. House seats and their 44-year-old hold on Virginia's 13 presidential electoral votes. Critics said Frederick's fundraising, which they consider lackluster, his disputes with Sen. John McCain's campaign team and his comparison of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to Osama bin Laden did not help.
In his public remarks, Frederick spoke of work done to prepare for the election, including upgrading voter files, printing signs and handing out literature.
Some said that they were satisfied with Frederick and that the party was unified.
"It's all sweetness and light," said Gary Byler, a Frederick supporter who is chairman of the 2nd Congressional District Republican Committee and a member of the State Central Committee.
According to a senior Republican adviser who attended the closed portion of the meeting, the chairmen of the state's 11 congressional districts, who make up the party's executive committee, would not approve Frederick's "Statement of Republican Principles" -- a document that candidates for office would have to sign before the party would provide support.
Frederick, 33, stunned Republican leaders in May by defeating party elder John H. Hager, a moderate former lieutenant governor, for the top job.
Next year, Virginians will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all 100 members of the House of Delegates.