80% of Party Leaders Want Frederick to Quit

By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009

RICHMOND, March 5 -- The Republican State Central Committee has called on party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick to resign after months of missteps, internal disagreements and election losses.

Frederick, who represents Prince William County in the House of Delegates, can resign or fight a vote to remove him at an emergency meeting of the state Republican Party's governing body April 4.

His critics say they need the support of 75 percent of the 78-member central committee to oust him. More than 80 percent signed a two-page letter to Frederick dated March 4, asking him to resign.

"It's pretty clear the intention is to remove him," said Mike Wade, a committee member from Hampton. "Everybody is aware of all the problems. It's just a sad state, really."

In a statement, Frederick vowed to fight for his job.

"I have every intention of continuing as Chairman and completing my term in May 2012," he said. "I have the commitments necessary to win the vote on April 4th and will fulfill my term and the commitment to the people who entrusted me to lead our Party back to victory."

The attempt to oust Frederick leaves a beleaguered party in turmoil heading into a crucial election season, in which Republicans will try to win back the governor's mansion and hold on to their majority in the House of Delegates.

The effort was orchestrated by prominent activists across the state but would not have proceeded without approval from Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell.

In a statement Thursday, McDonnell said "it would be helpful for the Republican Party of Virginia to have more effective leadership in this pivotal year.'' McDonnell would not comment further.

Frederick's critics said his lackluster fundraising, his disputes with Sen. John McCain's campaign team and his ill-timed remark comparing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden factored into their decision. In November, 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.

The central committee considered ousting Frederick in December, when hundreds of activists gathered at the posh Homestead mountain resort for the party's annual retreat. But party leaders offered him another chance.

Since then, the parade of miscues has continued. Last month, activists accused him of spoiling a discreet attempt to persuade a Democratic member of the state senate to switch parties. Then he was dubbed the "worst person in the world" by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for a series of factual errors in a videotaped speech on the House floor about Abraham Lincoln.

Frederick, 33, defended his job performance. "I pledged leadership that would be driven from the grassroots up, not the top down. I have kept that pledge and am proud of the work we've accomplished in just nine months."

His took over the post in May, when social and anti-tax conservatives helped him defeat party elder John H. Hager, a moderate former lieutenant governor. One of the House's most conservative members, Frederick said he will not run for reelection in November. He is urging his wife, Amy, to run for his seat.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company