6th district GOP candidates spar with committee, allege bias

Published: Mar. 13, 2018 at 10:19 PM EDT
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Several Republicans seeking to run in Virginia's 6th congressional district this November are accusing those in charge of the nomination process of bias toward one candidate.

In a joint statement released Monday, campaigns for Ben Cline, Chaz Haywood, Ed Justo, Kathryn Lewis and Douglas Wright criticized the GOP committee representing the district for waiting to release the names of delegates who plan to attend the party convention in May.

"What we will need, and other campaigns will want to do, is take that list of delegates and reach out," said Haywood. "It's your known voters."

The statement also mentioned a previous decision to select a candidate at the convention with a single-ballot plurality vote.

"There's a group of elite leaders who are trying to make rules up to support a candidate who they're known to support, whether it's in public or behind the scenes," said Haywood, who also suggested the actions of the GOP committee may discourage people from participating in the process altogether.

In a statement, the chairperson for the 6th district GOP committee, Scott Sayre, said the allegations are unfounded and the delegate names will not be released until all lists are available — six weeks before the convention.

"Because the Cline/Haywood campaigns are intimately familiar with the State Party Plan and Convention Rules, I am dismayed to see they are attempting to dupe others with half truths," Sayre wrote. "For two elected Republicans who have spent their careers since high school in politics to act as if they do not understand the process when they have been on the inside receiving information leaves me to only question their intent."

Sayre also denied the delegate list was or will be released to one candidate before the rest.

In an interview with WHSV prior to the release of the joint statement, 6th District Vice Chairperson Matt Tederick, also the political director for Cynthia Dunbar's campaign for Congress, had pointed words for the candidates.

"I've been involved in Republican party politics since 1995 and I've never experienced the heightened level of vile behavior that is being conducted by [the] Ben Cline campaign, by the Chaz Haywood campaign, by Ed Justo," Tedrick said.

"Our behavior is making sure that we reach out to every possible voter," Haywood said in response.

The party convention is set for May 19 at James Madison University.

Below, you can find the full statement released by the campaigns of Ben Cline, Chaz Haywood, Ed Justo, Kathryn Lewis, and Douglas Wright:

After the Sixth District Committee and Chairman Scott Sayre attempted to rig the process back in January to benefit one candidate at the May 19th Convention with a single-ballot plurality vote, Chairman Sayre and the Committee are again attempting to rig the process to benefit that same candidate by delaying the release of delegate names to the other campaigns, including his own opponent for chairman. The democratic process is supposed to be one which brings people out to participate, not one which places onerous requirements in the way of individuals from getting the information that they need to make an informed decision about who shall represent them. The consistent changes to this process that have been presented by the Sixth District Republican Committee have shown that there is no interest in allowing for an open and transparent process moving forward. In fact, it would appear that this Committee has committed to keeping voters, candidates, and campaigns in the dark about how information will be distributed. We are a country of laws and a Party of rules; as such, we expect that the due process is accorded to the voters of the Sixth Congressional District so they may be allowed access to as much information about their choice for a candidate. This includes allowing campaigns to be afforded the access to delegate lists, instead of allowing one campaign to have an unfair advantage over the others. Access to delegate lists allows each campaign to communicate with delegates on a fair and level playing field. For the Sixth District Committee to arbitrarily sit on filed and verified delegates for the May 19th Republican Convention in Harrisonburg is impeding the ability of delegates to make an informed decision. Republicans in the Sixth District have reason to be greatly concerned if the Sixth District Committee continues to show this flagrant bias and fails to allow for an open and transparent process. Continued efforts to trample the rights of voters in the Sixth District shows an unethical abuse of power in favor of one candidate. The preservation of liberty and the fundamental underpinnings required to preserve a democratic process necessitates the Sixth District Committee to immediately release delegate lists and ensure that all campaigns have an equal opportunity to communicate with properly filed delegates.