Republican Rep. Stan Parris of Fairfax said today that an outward display of unity at a GOP conference during the weekend was a sham.
"After 36 hours of preaching unity and love and peace in public, the politics of exclusions persisted in private," Parris said today after returning home from the meeting in Staunton.
The 8th District congressman, who lost the party's nomination for governor to Wyatt B. Durrette this year, charged that state party Chairman Donald W. Huffman "eloquently called for the party to reach out" when the news media was present, but behind closed doors "the petty politics that caused our worst defeat in 20 years resumed."
Huffman could not be reached for comment today.
Parris' blast is the latest bloodletting among Republicans since their defeat in statewide elections last month. About two weeks ago, Paul Weyrich, a prominent New Right conservative, responded to a post-election fund-raising letter from Durrette by calling him "a wimp." Weyrich said that Durrette had wasted money in his race against Gov.-elect Gerald L. Baliles and "deserves neither money nor sympathy."
Parris said Huffman and his backers used parliamentary procedures to thwart efforts to open the party, including a proposal to change the nominating process by replacing a series of mass meetings now held around the state with a primary.
Parris said the present policies of the Republican Party in Virginia "are not working, and the proof of the pudding is that 250,000 Republicans stayed home" in the Nov. 5 election, in which the Democrats swept the three statewide offices, including the governorship, for the second consecutive time.
Parris said that "a little clique" led by Huffman and his suporters, whom Parris said include a majority of the state's 10 congressional district chairmen, "want to perpetuate their power" at the cost of winning elections. Several persons who sat in on the closed sessions said Huffman became irritated when attempts were made to introduce various resolutions.
Susie Mote, a member of the state central committee from Winchester, said she had hoped to offer an innocuous resolution calling for "a return to the grass roots" but could not get the floor.
"I don't think much will come out of this advance," she said after one of the closed workshops Saturday. The conference was called an "advance" to avoid the negative connotations of a "retreat."
Paula Faraday of Manassas, chairman of the Prince William GOP, said local party workers were misused or ignored in the recently concluded campaign, in which Democrats retained the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general for another four years.
Exasperated by failure to make an impact at the conference, Faraday buttonholed J. Marshall Coleman, the party's 1981 nominee for governor, and told him, "You and Stan Parris have got to help us pick up the pieces."
Coleman, whose bid to run for lieutenant governor this year was sidetracked at the state convention by forces led by former governor Mills E. Godwin, kept a low profile at the conference, as did a number of other dissidents.
While some of the unit chairmen and other party leaders attending the sessions at the Ingleside Inn blamed the party's defeat last month on poor organization and infighting, Huffman pointed to the popularity of outgoing Democratic Gov. Charles S. Robb as the main reason for the Democratic sweep, which included electing a black and a woman to statewide office for the first time.
Parris said he was told after one of the attendees tried to introduce a resolution for change yesterday, Huffman said, "over my dead body."
Parris said Huffman rejected such efforts as out of order, insisting on "hearing reports from college Republicans and all that nonsense. That's a filibuster."