Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Republican Committee will stick with a convention despite legal threats and safety concerns.
According to Melvin Adams, chairman of the committee, on Sunday the group voted for the second time to stick with a convention as a nomination method.
“Switching to a primary is completely off the table,” he wrote in an email to the Progress Tuesday afternoon.
The committee has yet to reschedule caucuses and a convention, but results could upset the freshman incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman. His challenger, Bob Good, a former associate athletics director at Liberty University who has said Riggleman has “betrayed the trust” of conservatives, claims to have enough delegates to unseat him.
Sunday’s vote came after drafts of litigation circulated amongst members, with the last sent the day of the vote via an email threatening to name committee members as defendants if they voted to change from a convention to a primary.
The draft lawsuit names as defendants Adams, Riggleman and various committee members. It also lists nine individuals as plaintiffs, all of whom are registered as delegates in the upcoming convention.
The unfiled lawsuit argues that if the committee members vote to change nomination methods, then they will infringe on the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, all of whom have paid $25 fees to register as delegates. The lawsuit also repeats claims made by Good that the challenger has secured “more than 60%” of the delegates, a claim the Riggleman campaign has refuted.
David Konick, who is listed as plaintiffs’ counsel on the draft, confirmed the lawsuit had not been filed and would not be filed following Sunday’s vote.
Adams said that though he has not polled members of the committee as to whether or not the legal threat swayed their vote, he does not believe it influenced Sunday’s decision.
Threats are something he has gotten used to, he said.
“These threats usually come from people who desperately want to feel they have power, and get their kicks from their expression, similar to individuals who spout off on social media without impunity,” Adams said. “However, the particular presentation and threat to the committee membership was over the top. It is being addressed in an appropriate manner.”
A statement from Kurt Lofquist, Riggleman’s political director, condemned the lawsuit, which he claims came from Good supporters.
“The congressman is appalled and disgusted that the Bob Good campaign would allow one of their most ardent supporters to single out committee members in a lawsuit,” Lofquist wrote. “These types of intimidation factors are not in the spirit of the party or law and should not be tolerated.”
Several committee members declined to speak on the record and the Good campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
However, further complicating the situation, two other lawsuit drafts obtained by the Progress list Riggleman and the 5th District Republican Committee as plaintiffs and name as defendants the Virginia Department of Elections, Virginia Board of Elections and various state election officials.
The two drafts, which appear to have been created prior to the lawsuit sent to committee members Sunday, would have sought a primary by arguing Riggleman’s constitutional rights were being infringed.
The drafts argue that, absent an injunction, there is no lawful way for the 5th District Republican Committee to have a convention to choose its nominee because it is currently unlawful for the convention to take place following an executive order from Gov. Ralph Northam forbidding gatherings of 10 or more people through June 10.
A spokesman for the Riggleman campaign confirmed that the lawsuits were not filed and would only have been filed with support from the committee.
The lawsuit drafts are similar to one filed last week by the 7th District Republican committee, which also is nominating via a convention. The 7th District Republican Committee filed a complaint against the Virginia Department of Elections and State Board of Elections, requesting a temporary injunction that extends the deadline for nominating past June 9.
The filing cites safety concerns and an inability to obtain insurance for a convention or committee vote.
On Tuesday, a Richmond City Circuit Court judge granted the request for a temporary injunction, giving the district until July 28 to select its nominee via convention.
The RPV has also filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of 10 other districts in the commonwealth, including the 5th District, though no ruling has been issued yet.
Last week, Northam announced a postponement of primaries to June 23.
The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia will meet Saturday to discuss what modifications to convention guidelines would be allowed in order to ensure that the party function and elections can continue under the present state of emergency.