Byler Forces Throw Out Wagner's Slate in D-2 GOP Convention
Colgate Poised For Upset -- By John Fredericks
Hampton, Va. -- State Senator Frank Wagner's (R-Virginia Beach) bid for Second District Republican Chairman took a turn for the worst Saturday morning when the 2nd District Committee voted at 11:00 a.m. to seat all qualified Delegates from Virginia Beach.
This action effectively negated Wagner's slate of 32 delegates to represent all of Virginia Beach's delegates which were elected in the March 10 Mass Meeting by a better than two to one margin.
The Second District Committee voted that the Mass Meeting vote on slating was improper and threw it out.
Current 2nd District Chairman Gary Byler, who chose not to seek election to another term controls a majority of votes on both the convention rules and credentials committee.
Committee Vote Under Fire
While the Committee vote count was 9-8 to disallow Wagner's slate, one Committee vote that could have changed the outcome was allegedly not recognized.
Wagner's team members claim that Byler would not allow the official representative of the College Republicans, Sarah Bennett of Old Dominion University to vote as a credentialed Committee member.
Byler says he did not acknowledge Bennett as an official Committee voter and said he did not see any e-mails from the CR's validating her status.
Wagner's convention floor representatives went ballistic and confirmed Bennett showed Byler a copy of the e-mail and alleged that the chairman chose to ignore it.
Multiple sources said Bennett would have voted to allow the slating to stand.
That would have deadlocked the Committee vote at 9-9 and the slate would not have been overturned.
"Great outreach to our young Republicans," quipped Virginia Beach delegate Jason Mirayes, a Wagner supporter.
Too Little Too Late For Wagner?
The outcome makes the convention vote untenable for Wagner's team, who did not make an effort to turn their original Virginia Beach delegates out until Thursday.
It may be too little too late for Wagner.
Long time GOP activist and donor Curtis Colgate -- written off for dead after the successful March 10 candidate slating by Wagner -- never stopped working.
It appears that Colgate turned his delegates out, as an informal head count has them dominating the convention by about a three to two margin.
A Subdued Rigell Disagrees With Decision
U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA/2), caught in a conundrum, voiced displeasure with the committee's decision to negate the slate and allow all delegates from Va. Beach to be credentialed.
In a subdued and measured address to the assembled delegates in Hampton University's historic Convention Hall, Rigell said he voted against slating on March 10, but said he believed the decision by Byler today to throw out that vote was wrong.
The Congressman, who favored Wagner -- and like the state senator is opposed to nominating conventions and prefers primaries -- said it's time for Republicans to put their squabbles aside and work together to defeat Democrats.
"I disagree with Chairman Byler on this," Rigell said. "But what may separate us for the moment pales in comparison to what unites us."
Battle For Convention Chair Bodes Well For Colgate
The current battle on the convention floor is for Convention Chairman.
Colgate forces wanted Va. Beach Councilman John Moss while Wagner backed Dave Hummel.
That vote was 472 for Moss and 397 for Hummel.
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