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McClure resigns as local GOP chairman

South Boston News
McClure
SoVaNow.com / May 15, 2017
Halifax County Republican Party chairman Todd McClure tendered his resignation this week, 14 months after he was elected county unit chairman at a heavily attended — and contentious — party mass meeting.

In an email message sent Friday to local and state party officials, McClure stated that his resignation is effective immediately. “I have an unwavering commitment to my family and ministry as my first priority,” wrote McClure, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. “Due to some changes in the recent months I no longer have the luxury of the extra time necessary to serve the Republican party.”

With McClure’s departure, local party vice-chair Korey Snead of Scottsburg becomes acting chair. Snead said that McClure’s decision was a “shock” but also comes amid lingering discord after McClure unseated longtime party unit chair Pat Barksdale at a March 2016 mass meeting in South Boston.

“While I had my hopes that his chairmanship would be successful, there was a lot of animosity to start off with,” said Snead.

McClure wrote in his email that “it was a great year for our committee” with the electoral success of Donald Trump and 5th District Rep. Tom Garrett, both of whom carried Halifax County with “huge majorities,” he noted.

“We staffed each polling place with volunteers, both outside reaching voters, and inside making sure the Democrats couldn’t steal the election. We covered countless events across the county. We have seen unparalleled participation and attracted unheard of numbers of folks to our cause. For that, I am very grateful,” McClure wrote to party officials.

“I am grateful to all those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for the cause that we share, to preserve liberty for our children and grandchildren,” he stated.

McClure could not be reached this weekend to comment further on his resignation.

Snead said Halifax County unit committee would hold a meeting sometime in the next few months to name a permanent chairman, who will preside over local party activities until a mass meeting of the GOP faithful is held next year. As acting chair, Snead said he would seek the permanent chairmanship with McClure’s resignation.

“If that’s who they want, [the unit committee] can elect me or someone else. But it’s only the unit committee that can make that determination,” he said.

The makeup of that committee — members are generally chosen at mass meetings — was left up in the air after the March 2016 mass meeting that led to McClure’s ascension as party chair. Snead said there was “so much confusion” at that mass meeting that the only members named to the unit committee were delegates who previously had filed to attend the 5th District and Virginia state Republican conventions. “It was only about five or six people,” said Snead.

Under party by-laws, unit committees are made up of representatives of each county or city precinct, plus a handful of at-large members as deemed by the local party. The committees carry out grassroots and organizational activities such as putting up signs, distributing literature and putting together candidate appearances.

At the local level, unit committees also determine the method by which candidates are to be nominated to represent the Republican Party in general elections. Across the state, local party units have been beset by infighting among different factions, often over the issue of whether candidates should be selected in open primaries or through conventions that tend to draw only the most committed members.

“During a convention, everything from hard-core party followers to the absolute extremists will turn out. There’s no question about that,” Snead said. He added, “I’ve had an opportunity to see [conventions are] not a good, fair way to nominate a candidate.”

Snead said the 5th District convention last year that nominated Garrett, at the time a Virginia state senator from Buckingham, almost produced an outcome that would have underscored the downsides of convention-style politics.

“After watching someone like Michael Del Russo [the runner-up] almost win with the limited amount of information we had on him, I see where that’s not a good process for nominating a candidate,” Snead said.

After McClure was elected local party chair at a packed March 2016 mass meeting, the next gathering of local Republicans was a much-less attended affair — with the major item of business being the naming of members to serve on the local unit committee.

At that meeting, longtime local GOP activists — “people who have worked in the party pretty heavily for the past 20 years,” said Snead — were able to retain their places on the committee. But Snead said he and others found out about the meeting only because a committee member had forwarded the announcement of the meeting date to them. They received no notice from McClure in his capacity as new unit chairman.

“None of us were informed,” said Snead.

When members walked into the meeting, Snead added, they found it was being led by Rick Boyer, a well-known Campbell County party activist who has been instrumental in ousting longtime local party officials around the state and replacing them with party insurgents, often with deep ties to the religious right.

Snead said that McClure and others were “a little shocked” when the group of traditional party stalwarts showed up for the meeting.

“They did not mean for us to know about it,” he said.

Snead added that “we’ve had a communication problem ever since he [McClure] has been chair. It didn’t seem like he had time to devote to it.” A persistent problem was a failure to add names to an email contact list that kept members abreast of local party activities.

“I’m not saying he did that intentionally, but there were several requests for that list,” he said.

Also, party regulars who don’t use email often failed to receive written notice of meetings by mail, as called for by state party by-laws.

“I don’t know that we ever had any meeting that was duly called and held that was legal under Virginia Republican Party rules,” said Snead.

The final straw, he added, was a February meeting where the invited guest, Rev. Travis Whitt, a former chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation and prominent social conservative, urged local Republicans “advocated going after the [Board of Supervisors] and school board for no good reason other than to replace them with stronger Christians.”

The local GOP membership includes elected representatives on the school board and board of supervisors.

Internal divisions notwithstanding, the county party unit will endeavor to include everyone in local Republican politics, “including McClure’s people,” said Snead. “We’ll try to get everyone’s information set up for the mailing list, and we’ll try to keep everyone informed … Anyone who wants to come in is welcome. The biggest challenge moving forward is creating unity, or at least no contributing to disunity.

“We haven’t had any unit for local Republicans since the mass meeting in 2016,” said Snead. “That’s just a fact.”



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Comments

Let's make sure we have ALL of the facts before casting stones. Todd had the people's best interest at heart, just not enough political experience. That does not make him incompetent!!
No one is perfect.
Thank you Todd McClure for stepping up and trying.

Comments

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Not having or showing the necessary skills to do something successfully is the definition of incompetent.


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