Rumors are flying about the Republican nomination situation in House District 30. I talked with several of the major players to find out what is really going on. Nick Freitas, the incumbent delegate from District 30 filed his paperwork with the State Board of Elections (SBE) in a timely manner. He also sent a copy of his paperwork and his filing fee to the District 30 Legislative District Committee (LDC30). In due course he received both his cancelled check and an email from LDC30 telling him that his paperwork had been filed. Then a few days later he discovered his name was not on the ballot. He checked to find out why, and the SBE said they could not find one of Nick’s forms and they could not find a record of LDC30 having filed a copy of his paperwork. Nick and his legal team asked for an extension to allow them to refile the missing documents, but the SBE refused. The SBE allowed five other candidates to have extensions so that they could get their paperwork in order after the filing date, but every time the GOP member of the SBE made a motion to approve an extension for Nick neither of the Democratic members would second it, so the motion died without being heard. (Parenthetically, the SBE is made up of one Republican member, one Democratic member, and one member representing the Party of the Governor. This is another reason why winning statewide offices is so important.)
When the SBE ruled that under no circumstances would Nick’s name be on the ballot, his legal team told him that he could spend $100,000 and fight the ruling in court with a less than even chance of winning or he could run as a write-in candidate. Or LDC30 could select a different candidate and go to court with a good chance to get that candidate on the ballot. Nick was more concerned about having a Republican candidate on the ballot than about that candidate being himself. He told LDC30 members to go ahead and select someone else. They refused. They think he can win a write-in campaign, and they intend for him to run one.
Some among the GOP leadership, including House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, are deeply concerned about maintaining at least 51 seats in the House of Delegates. If Democrats gain the majority, everything conservatives have gained over the past generation will be lost in two afternoons, and Virginia will become California east with rat problems like Sacramento, homeless problems like San Francisco, outrageous taxes, an unending stream of illegal immigrants, unlimited government spending, unlimited abortion, and almost total gun control. Todd is deeply concerned about the future – or lack of it – that his children would have in Virginia should Democrats take control of the General Assembly. Court ordered redistricting has turned several solidly Republican districts into toss-up districts. House District 30 was not at risk until this SBE filing foul up. Todd and other House leaders wanted LDC30 to choose a new nominee as the best option going forward. In District 30, an R by a candidate’s name is almost all that candidate needs to win. Without a candidate on the ballot, the seat is not secure. When LDC30 chose to have Nick run a write-in campaign, Todd and several other leaders tried to find some way or someone to convince them to change their minds. At no time did Todd try to get any member of LDC30 replaced.
Then during a recent conference call, RPV’s consulting lawyers said that a new nominee’s chance of getting on the ballot via a court order were little better than Nick’s chances. That drastically changed the dynamics of the decision. As things now stand Nick is running as a write-in candidate, and he has a good chance of winning the seat again. He has an extra month to campaign (since he doesn’t have to wait on the resolution of a court case), he has raised a half million dollars, and he has retained the team that helped Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski win her seat with a state-wide write-in campaign.
Todd Gilbert and others did NOT try to change the makeup of LDC30. They did try to convince LDC30 members to change their minds out of a deep concern for the wellbeing of Virginia as a whole. We Republicans need to learn to talk with each other about what we want rather than assuming those with whom we disagree do so from evil motives. Nick has pointed out in a public post that his discussions with Todd and others have been about finding the best strategy for moving forward. He still considers Todd to be a good friend
Finally, since Nick Freitas is running a write-in campaign, he will need everyone to get on board in support of his campaign. It is winnable. We must win it. We must work together to win it. Passions have been high because the stakes are high. Let’s turn that passion into effort for Nick and all of our Republican candidates this fall.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.