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Va. delegates in primary fight head to court after shoving accusation

Virginia Dels. Wren Williams (R-Patrick) and Marie March (R-Floyd). (Allison Lee Isley for The Washington Post; Steve Helber/AP)

Two southwestern Virginia GOP delegates pitted against each other by recent redistricting had harsh words Sunday after one pressed charges against the other for an alleged “shoulder slamming” at a regional Republican fundraiser.

Dels. Marie March (R-Floyd) and Wren Williams (R-Patrick) were elected last fall, but the state’s redistricting plan has them facing off in next year’s primary for voters in Carroll, Floyd and Patrick counties.

According to the lawmakers, they were at the annual 9th District Republican Celebration on Saturday night in Wytheville. As Williams and his wife were exiting the party, through a group of people, his body touched March’s.

He said that it was accidental and that he didn’t even realize it was March, and that he apologized immediately.

She said he intentionally bumped her and had been picking fights with friends of hers at the event all night.

The event space was “massive” with lots of big rooms and empty spaces. “When he saw me, he kind of stomped over into this group of people until he could body slam me on the way out. He didn’t need to be within 30 feet of me. It was a bully tactic,” she said. “He kind of turned around and realized how bad it looked, and he goes, ‘Uh sorry,’ under his breath and kind of ran out the door,” March told The Washington Post.

After the event, she said, police took her to a magistrate’s office to fill out a criminal complaint. In cases of an alleged misdemeanor that police don’t witness, the citizen lodges the complaint, Lt. Bryan Bard of the Wytheville police told The Post.

The complaint — a copy of which is posted in the Cardinal News, a news site serving southwestern and Southside Virginia that reported the incident — alleges “my opponent intentionally pushed/shouldered slammed into me in front of a large group of people.”

The complaint includes a court hearing for Nov. 21 in Wytheville.

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Michael Brame, March’s legislative aide, told The Post that he was a few feet away and that the moment followed “escalating bullying” by Williams.

“He had interjected himself into several conversations. He would step in and give a very aggressive statement that wasn’t pertinent,” Brame said. On his way out of the event, Williams “in my belief deliberately bumped into her. … She wasn’t harmed. It knocked her off-balance but didn’t knock her down. There is a considerable disparity in size” between the two lawmakers.

In an interview, Williams called March “dangerous” and said he and his wife had wanted to avoid her that night because he believes she looks for situations to distort for political advantage. “This has been brewing for a long time.”

“I think she is using this as a political hit job. This is a stunt because she has burned bridges and has no shot in continuing to represent these people,” he said. “This goes beyond politics. She has a pure hatred for anyone who crosses her. I can’t get over the fact that she would go to this extreme.”

Wytheville police spoke to both delegates at the event, Bard said.

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Williams, a lawyer, won an upset primary victory in early 2021 against seven-term Del. Charles Poindexter, in part by sticking very closely to former president Donald Trump. Williams worked for Trump’s legal team challenging the vote count in Wisconsin. Last fall, he won three-quarters of the vote in his heavily conservative district against a Democratic newcomer.

March, whose family conducts concealed-carry classes in their barbecue restaurants, won an open seat last fall and attracted media attention after attending Trump’s rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021.

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