I was privileged, along with 11 other Rappahannock County Republicans, to attend our 5th District Republican Convention this past Saturday in Farmville, Va.
The purpose of this convention was to elect a new Republican chairman for the congressional district in which Rappahannock County is included. The race pitted conservative leader Mark Lloyd against a moderate, Bill Bolling-style Republican, Jon Berkley — Congressman Robert Hurt’s hand-picked candidate.
The highlight of our raucous convention was Hurt’s attempt, through Berkley, to disenfranchise Campbell County’s entire delegation. This effort had already been ruled illegal by our 5th District Committee, but Hurt and Berkley had the votes on Saturday and denied anyone from Campbell County from voting at the convention, thereby ensuring Berkley’s narrow victory. A great resource for the shenanigans leading up to the convention is former GOP Senate candidate Jamie Radtke at thebullelephant.com.
Mr. Berkley, throughout his campaign, had parroted the notion of “party unity.” So, within minutes of his victory, he and Hurt took the unprecedented action to immediately purge five elected conservative members of our 5th District Committee who had supported his defeated opponent. This is unity?
Almost half of the 440 delegates left Saturday’s convention feeling abused, betrayed and disillusioned. Yes, Congressman Hurt, you won on Saturday.
But here is what you lost: You compromised your integrity, you damaged your conservative credentials, you lost the trust of a significant portion of your constituency, but most of all Congressman Hurt, you destroyed party unity here in our Republican 5th Congressional District. Some victory!
Jeffrey E. Knight