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Loudoun Republicans host ‘unity’ event—but some key members were missing

Charlie King, the Republican nominee for Board of Supervisors chairman, spoke at a Loudoun GOP “unity” press conference in Leesburg June 5. King stands in front of Republican candidates and elected officeholders. Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko

More than a dozen heavy hitters in the Loudoun Republican party stood on the steps of the old county courthouse June 5 in a show of GOP unification. But absent from the grounds were some key members of the party, including the majority of the all-Republican Board of Supervisors.

Billed a GOP “unity press conference,” the event came just three days after Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) announced he would seek a fifth term – this time as an independent.

York officially filed paperwork June 9 to appear on the ballot. His announcement has set off harsh criticism from members of the Loudoun GOP, which has twice nominated him for the county's top elected post. York held the countywide chairmanship as a Republican from 2000-2003, an independent from 2004-2010 and again as a Republican from 2012 through today.

The chairman's surprising move raises the question: Who will current Republican members of the board support – York, whom they've repeatedly praised for his leadership? Or the Republican nominee, Charlie King?

The three supervisors who attended Friday's press conference answered the question directly. Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) all said they will stump for King, who became the GOP nominee in May, a time when York said he wasn't seeking re-election.

“I think it's important for people to stand by their word,” Clarke said. “I had supported Charlie from the get go, as a good Republican, as a good candidate. Chairman York had announced he was not running. I still feel that Charlie is the right man for the job.”

Higgins said he's supporting King simply because he's the Republican nominee and "we're on the Republican ticket."

King, meanwhile, thinks there needs to be a “different tone set in the county.”

“I think the chairman has to be very much a facilitator, a counselor,” King, who is making his first bid for public office, said. “You cannot have continual conflict – which I think we've seen a lot of with Mr. York. The board has done a lot of good things, but I think the events of the last couple of weeks have shown it's time for new leadership in Loudoun County. It's time for some fresh blood.”

King also noted York's about-face came after he told executives at the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and Virginia News Group as recently as mid-May he wasn't seeking re-election – a requirement to be considered for the Times-Mirror's Citizen of the Year, which was ultimately bestowed on York late last month.

“If Mr. York will lie to a newspaper to win an award, how can we trust him to be truthful on more important issues?” King said.

Several of York's colleagues on the Board of Supervisors – including vice chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) and long-time Republican stalwart Suzanne Volpe – did not respond to a June 3 email asking who they will be supporting in the chairman's race by the time the Times-Mirror went to print.

The day after York's announcement, the local GOP issued a statement decrying his decision.

"Scott York's flip-flop is very disappointing,” said Michael Haynes, chairman of the Loudoun Republican committee. “Four years ago Scott approached the Loudoun County Republican Committee, asking to return to the party after previously running as an independent. We welcomed him back and helped him in his successful run for chairman. Being a Republican has to mean something. You can't just jump in and out of the party to further your political career. Loudoun County voters want elected officials who keep their word and run for office because they stand for something, not just to further their own career.”

In 2014, York said he was seeking re-election. Then in January, he gave a heartfelt speech from the dais saying he was retiring. Now he's back in the running, he says, because people in the community have urged him to seek another term.

Responding to the barbs from the past week, York told the Times-Mirror: "This is just all silliness on the part of Eugene Delgaudio's attorney. I invite all Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to unite and support my re-election to continue moving Loudoun forward."

King served as Delgaudio's attorney in a special grand jury case investigating the Sterling supervisor, as well as during the failed effort to recall him from office.

The chairman's race is currently a four-way contest, with King, York, Democrat Phyllis Randall and independent Tom Bellanca in the running.

The June 5 event also addressed a similar situation with the local sheriff's race, in which former sheriff Steve Simpson, who held office as a Republican, is waging an independent campaign himself against the GOP's Mike Chapman, the current sheriff.

On hand for the "unity" event, in addition to Higgins, Clarke, Delgaudio, King, Haynes and Chapman, were County Treasurer Roger Zurn, County Commissioner of the Revenue Bob Wertz, County Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens, Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman and 2015 candidates Tony Buffington (Blue Ridge District supervisor), Will Estrada (Leesburg District supervisor), Ron Meyer (Broad Run District supervisor) and Stephen Hollingshead (State Senate 33rd District).


Orange is for winners you do know that York will not wear orange!

Sounds like the local party apparatchiks suffer from some trust issues. Seems like there are significant numbers of their colleagues in other Virginia jurisdictions that have much more respect for their voting public. Like the rest of Virginia, they don’t register by party, either. Yet they hold primaries. Trust and respect are two-way streets. You earn it. You give it. It comes back to you in spades. Concepts obviously foreign to the local party operatives.

Is Chapman scratching his head trying to figure out why the important players in this picture are standing as far away from him as possible?  Maybe he is trying to figure out why most of them, behind the scene, will be supporting Steve Simpson.

“Scott York’s flip-flop is very disappointing,” said Michael Haynes, chairman of the Loudoun Republican committee.” You want to talk about disappointing? How about the fact that I woke up to a news announcement this morning declaring that today was “Primary Day” in Virginia and urging me to be sure to get out and vote. The only problem is that, although it may be “Primary Day” in the rest of Virginia, neither major party in Loudoun County sees fit to give voters here the opportunity to let their voices be heard. The major parties selected candidates for us in their own cloistered and incestuous processes. And what did we end up with? Hardly a slate of stellar candidates for either party. I’m inclined to vote for every candidate other than a major party candidate available to me. And I’m hoping enough other voters do the same if, for nothing else, than to let both major parties know that their nomination processes stink to high heaven. They have no one other than themselves to blame for a lack of unity. You can’t have unity without inclusion. Get over yourselves, already.

My only question is why doesn’t King have his stupid orange hat?  King is Delgaudio’s boy.

My only question is why isn’t Delgaudio wearing his stupid orange hat?

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