New State Republican Party Executive Director John Findlay responded early this week to Sunday’s “Gregory’s Web,” which included criticism of his tenure as Virginia GOP Party Director.
Findlay specifically identified two comments as “provably false” and asked that they be retracted.
The first false statement, according to Findlay, was, “Findlay led Virginia’s GOP to abandon as much input as possible from state Republican voters in favor of decisions by wiser party leadership.”
He responds that “(d)uring my tenure as Executive Director primaries were selected for all state wide nominations for public office. The process used this year was not selected until December of 2020, nearly a year after I left. Delegates to our RNC convention are always selected via convention per the Republican Party of Virginia Plan of Organization, so there is not a mechanism to have them elected. Primaries for binding the convention delegates are held when there is an open seat for the Republican President (2000, 2008, 2012, 2016) but not when there is an incumbent Republican President in the White House (2020, 2004).”
Findlay says that; in fact, as party director and since then, he advocates direct involvement of voters rather than electoral decisions being made by party leaders. Findlay pointed out that the photo accompanying my column that showed him in a circus ringmaster outfit was part of his protest that Virginia’s election process had become a “circus” and did not involve sufficient voter participation.
He also disputes this statement, “Far fewer Virginia Republicans participated in choosing their party leaders and nominees under Findlay. Careful readers will recall that Trump-led Republicans managed, among other things, to take voting for delegates to the national convention out of the hands of ‘ordinary voters’ transferring it instead to ‘elite leadership.'”
To counter that comment, Findlay says, “The turnout in the 2017 Gubernatorial Primary was over 350,000 versus less than 10,000 who participated in the 2013 Convention. The 2018 Senate Primary had higher turnout than the 2012 Senate Primary and the 2020 Primary (which was selected before I left) had over 300,000 voters versus less than 5,000 at the 2014 Senate Convention. No matter how it is sliced, the average Virginia Republican had more of an opportunity to vote for candidates for nomination than at any other time in Republican Party of Virginia history.”
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I always welcome the opinion of others and would have given Findlay an opportunity to discuss his viewpoints in the original column except that I was unable to reach him. He has now given me his cell phone number so that should not be a problem in the future.
I also strive to make certain that “factual” statements are actually true. I appreciate Findlay for feeling the same way.
I will agree with him that my reference to taking national convention voting out of the hands of the people was not clear. There, I was criticizing the West Virginia state party leaders, not Virginia as it may have appeared.
Findlay said he has now fulfilled the outstanding contracts with individual candidates he had prior to accepting the West Virginia job. Those included recent work for failed Virginia GOP Governor candidate, State Senator Amanda Chase. Findlay’s wife also reportedly worked in that controversial campaign.
Hopefully, Findlay will bring his zest for direct voter input to his new job here. Perhaps we can work together to let “ordinary” Republicans choose national convention delegates rather than party leaders in smoke-filled rooms.
In the meantime, his comments are always welcome. A successful term as party director by Findlay would certainly be applauded. I apologize for my failure to communicate correctly.