Virginia Republicans Are At War With Each Other...Again
"You guys have lost everything time and again": Majority Leader Todd Gilbert clashes with Freitas staffer over write-in campaign in the latest intra-party fight
RICHMOND, VA - With control of the General Assembly at stake and fewer than 90 days until the November elections, the Virginia Republican Party is in complete disarray after Delegate Nick Freitas failed to file the correct paperwork to appear on the ballot and must now run an expensive write-in campaign. Freitas' incompetence could end up costing Virginia Republicans control of the House of Delegates, and tensions within the party are boiling over.
Last night, Christian Heiens, a legislative assistant for Freitas, sparred with House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert in a series of increasingly nasty back-and-forth comments on Facebook. Heiens accused Gilbert of trying to intervene in the 30th District GOP Committee's process by pressuring them to nominate another Republican and then attempting to remove a member of the committee when they wouldn't drop Freitas. Gilbert responded by sarcastically mocking Heiens and Freitas for their failures. "Oh YOU must be the mastermind behind the scenes who would rather run a write-in campaign than try to get a Republican on the ballot in an otherwise safe district when control of the state government is at stake," he wrote.
In another sign of disarray, Republicans in the district were apparently circulating a list of possible candidates who could potentially run instead of Freitas as recently as yesterday. And a quote from Gilbert was conspicuously absent from a Virginia House GOP press release issued this morning announcing Freitas would be running a write-in campaign.
"The only thing Virginia Republicans seem to agree on is that they're in serious danger of losing their majority in the General Assembly. The Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. While they're funding primary challenges against their own members, struggling to raise money, and forgetting to even file paperwork to get on the ballot, Democrats across the Commonwealth are organizing powerful grassroots campaigns to take the majority," said DPVA Press Secretary Grant Fox.
Divisions between party leaders came to a head earlier in the year when they fought over the nomination in the 97th House of Delegates District. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment backed Hanover County Supervisor Scott Wyatt, who was seeking to unseat Delegate Chris Peace because of his vote for Medicaid expansion. House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox backed Peace, and a contentious nominating process ensued, with both sides accusing the other of pulling undemocratic tricks to steal the nomination. Ultimately Wyatt triumphed, in part because Normenthelped bankroll the nominating convention that chose him as the party's nominee.
The infighting over Freitas is just the most recent example of the Virginia GOP losing control in a high-stakes election year. Recent fundraising reports show the Virginia Republican Party has less than $2,000 on hand and raised an embarrassing $36,385 in June.