Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick Fights Ouster
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
RICHMOND, March 17 -- Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick raised the stakes Tuesday in his bid to remain chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, taking on almost every top-ranking GOP officeholder in the state by labeling them "insiders" and saying they are partly to blame for the party's recent decline.
In a lengthy statement sent to Republican activists and the media, Frederick said those trying to remove him as chairman are a "small minority" who want to turn the Virginia GOP "into a rubber stamp for its long-time insiders."
"Rest assured, we're fighting for the future of our Republican Party and our commonwealth and we will not back down," said Frederick, 33, who blamed national and state party leaders for the loss of U.S. Senate and House seats in 2006.
Frederick's refusal to acquiesce has set up what threatens to become one of the state's nastiest leadership fights in recent memory. The Prince William County resident is counting on rank-and-file conservatives to join his revolt against the party's elected leadership, setting the stage for an election-year drama that highlights the turmoil within the party in Virginia and nationally.
Two weeks ago, a lopsided majority of the state central committee signed a letter calling for a meeting April 4 to consider Frederick's ouster as chairman. A three-fourths vote is needed to remove him.
Former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, the party's nominee for governor, and all five of the party's members of Congress from Virginia have called for his ouster. They were joined by the entire Republican leadership in the state Senate and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
"With its current chairman, we have serious reservations about how effectively the state party can help us accomplish our goals and persuade a majority of Virginia voters that Republicans have the right ideas and policy prescriptions," Howell wrote to party leaders.
But Frederick, a social and economic conservative, has proven to be a relentless opponent.
In 2003, he was elected to the House of Delegates at the age of 27, defeating moderate John A. "Jack" Rollison III in a primary. Democrats poured resources into the next two elections, but Frederick won both races, even though he represents a Democratic-leaning district.
Last year, Frederick shocked Virginia's Republican leadership by toppling former lieutenant governor John H. Hager, a moderate, at the state GOP convention. Since then, party leaders say, Frederick has mismanaged the state party. They outlined 10 charges against him.
The most serious charges allege that Frederick directed party business to a company he owns, made unauthorized expenditures and "damaged the reputation and effectiveness" of the state party by refusing to work closely with Arizona Sen. John McCain's campaign staff last year.
Frederick released a point-by-point rebuttal Tuesday.