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Former Sheriff Simpson’s Run Causes GOP Angst

© Leesburg Today - 05/27/2015

Former Loudoun Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson is running as an independent for his old job, and that's not likely to please the county GOP committee.

Simpson confirmed Tuesday evening that he is planning to be on the Nov. 3 ballot. He said he would make a formal announcement next week.

He told The Bull Elephant political blog earlier this month that he was pondering a bid, and the Loudoun County Republican Committee issued a statement Tuesday morning that urged the former officeholder to instead endorse incumbent Sheriff Mike Chapman.

Chapman, a Republican, defeated independents Simpson and Ronald D. Speakman in 2011, and he also weathered a GOP nomination challenge this month from retired Sheriff's Office Maj. Eric Noble.

Simpson was a delegate supporting Noble at the county Republican convention, so the notion that he would mount his own independent bid didn't sit well with Loudoun GOP Chairman Mike Haynes.

In the statement Tuesday, he called on Simpson to support Chapman.

""For the past few months Steve Simpson has been frequenting Loudoun Republican meetings, attending fundraisers and events, and apparently trying to be part of the Republican Party again,"" Haynes said. ""For him to now be considering a run as an independent is very unfortunate and unacceptable.""

Haynes noted Simpson's 2011 loss and said that at least ""part of the reason for his removal was that a few years earlier he had lost the Republican primary and then ran as an independent. Being a Republican has to mean something, and you can't jump in and out of the party to further your political career. Loudoun County voters want elected officials to stand for something and not just be in politics for selfish reasons.""

Simpson, Haynes said, is ""more than welcome"" in the Loudoun GOP if he is going to support the party's nominees as he has promised to do.

""But if he is going to run for office as an independent,"" the chairman said, ""we will make every effort to defeat him in November just as we will the Democrat in the race.""

Simpson said he thought that Haynes' move was ""in poor taste,"" given the fact that he hadn't made an announcement.

He said he has been circulating petitions to get on the ballot because he wanted to get a read on whether voters would endorse an independent run.

And, Simpson said, ""The support's been huge.""

The former elected lawman said he's found well-wishers on both sides of the county and within the Sheriff's Office.

Simpson said his phone has been ringing off the hook since Noble's loss at the nominating convention.

He didn't dispute Haynes' contention that agreeing to support Republican candidates went along with signing the form to be a party convention delegate. But he said that he's concerned about the future of the Sheriff's Office, and that ""public safety is bigger than party politics.""

""I care too much about what's going on in Loudoun County"" to stand idly by, he said.

Simpson served as sheriff from 1996 to 2012, and he won elections during that stretch with the GOP label and as an independent, although he said he considers himself a Republican at heart.

His entry into the race makes for the latest development in a campaign that began last year and that has seen lots of news.

Chapman's contest with Noble was fierce, and even insiders were unsure who would win the GOP nomination heading into the May 2 convention at Stone Bridge High School.

In addition, Chapman's other announced opponent, Democrat Brian Allman, has been criticized by members of his own party for saying that, if elected, he wanted to hire Noble as his chief deputy.

Noble declined the offer, saying that he hadn't been told about Allman's plan and that he would support Chapman, the GOP nominee.

The Allman-Noble hullaballoo continued, though, and Allman filed a civil suit in Loudoun County Circuit Court, alleging that fellow Democrat Larry W. Roeder Jr. ""intentionally, willfully and maliciously"" defamed him at a Loudoun Democratic Committee meeting in Leesburg on May 7.

Chairman rumors

Independents have until June 9 to file papers to get on the November ballot, and discussion also has centered on possible runs for county chairman.

Incumbent Scott K. York (R-At Large) announced in January that he wouldn't seek re-election, and Republican Charles King, Democrat Phyllis Randall and independent Tom Bellanca are currently the chairman hopefuls slated to appear on the ballot.

But some in Loudoun continue to try to persuade York to mount an independent bid, something that he has done successfully in the past.

County Supervisor Shawn M. Williams (R-Broad Run) also sought the GOP nomination for chairman earlier this year.

He got out of that race after reports of drunken driving and an assault arrest from his past were publicized. But over the past few days, he's become the latest subject of independent rumors.

Reached Tuesday, Williams said that he sought signatures on a petition that he would need to run as an independent but that he hadn't actually made a decision to move forward with another chairman campaign.

""It's not something that I think is probable,"" Williams said, but it's an option to consider if that's what residents want.

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