Race to Richmond

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Virginia GOP Prepares to Vote on Whether to Oust Frederick as Leader

"Republicans need to reaffirm their principled convictions to smaller government and lower taxes, respect for human life, and the protection of freedom and individual liberties," says Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, head of Virginia's Republican Party. (By Bob Brown -- Richmond Times-dispatch Via Associated Press)
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By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 4, 2009

From the moment Jeffrey M. Frederick plunged into politics, he impressed people as a young Republican in a hurry. Now, Frederick, who was only 32 when he seized the top spot in the Republican Party of Virginia last year, is fighting to stay there.

Today, Frederick faces a fierce challenge from members of his party who want to sack him. The dissidents, including gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell, have presented a list of complaints that covers matters of substance, such as allegations that his private company improperly benefited from party business, and matters of style.

Frederick, who presents himself a champion of grassroots Republicans, has denied each accusation and dismissed the rebellion as the work of "insiders."

At stake is not only Frederick's career but also the philosophical direction of the party -- and perhaps its chances of retaking the governor's mansion from Democrats this fall.

At the center is a young man people always describe as driven. Prematurely gray and soft-spoken, Frederick, 33, is deeply religious and conservative, believing that the state that governs least governs best.

"Republicans need to reaffirm their principled convictions to smaller government and lower taxes, respect for human life, and the protection of freedom and individual liberties," Frederick said in an e-mailed response to questions.

His rigid and vocal views on social issues have turned off independents. Mike Wade, a member of the central committee who wants Frederick out, said his concerns are not about ideology. Wade said Frederick is arrogant, abrasive and vengeful. "He's intolerant of everyone."

Frederick, the owner of an Internet consulting company, has been an unbending foe of raising taxes, a signature issue since he mounted his first campaign in an upset against a seasoned incumbent. Supporters also give him good marks as a fundraiser.

"He's obviously pretty determined. He's survived several pretty closely fought elections in a district that's not considered overly friendly to conservatives," said Phil Rodokanakis of Herndon, who was president of the now-inactive Virginia Club for Growth. "He wasn't afraid to buck authority."

David C.F. Ray, a Frederick supporter on the GOP central committee, said the Prince William delegate appeals to the anti-tax and social conservatives in the party who feel most demoralized by recent defeats.

"I think his religious values really formed his conservative values," Ray said. He predicted that even if Frederick loses today's vote in Richmond, he will renew the battle at the party's convention in May.

Frederick as born in Fairfax County and was in fourth grade when his father retired from the Navy and took a job as a defense contractor in Florida. He was a high school junior when he entered Emory University to study economics and political science. Frederick created Gen-X Strategies, a Web consulting business with fewer than 10 employees, in 1988.


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