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Frederick County, Va.: Revolt of the GOP Purgees?

February 10, 2016

In running for Republican National Convention Delegate I have met and talked to many people. Last night I was moved by the uprising and revolt of my neighbors in Frederick County who took action to defend one of their conservative stalwarts, Mark Berg, who is in the middle of a dispute with the Republican Party of Virginia.

I have friends who disagree with Mark Berg in this dispute.

I have other friends who turned out to support Mark Berg who was "purged". In the interests of allowing their voice, the voice of the purgees, I post this report from the Winchester Star. I will vote to seat all of the posted delegates from Frederick County and not exclude any of them.

From the Winchester Star:

WINCHESTER - Several months after being barred from the Frederick County Republican Committee, former 29th District Del. Mark Berg was voted its chairman Tuesday night over the objections of a large minority.

The vote was counted on a walkway outside Millbrook High School following a raucous and contentious re-organizational mass meeting.

"The people spoke tonight," Genevieve Behnke said following the meeting. "Frederick County woke up."

Berg was deemed to have resigned from the Frederick County, State Central and 10th Congressional District Republican committees last fall after he failed to disavow a write-in campaign launched on his behalf.

He'd lost the party primary that summer to now-Del. Chris Collins, R-Frederick County.

Roughly 170 people were at Tuesday's meeting in the auditorium of Millbrook High.

It was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., but with so many people needing to check in and provide their identification to be able to vote, it didn't get started until nearly 8 p.m.

Divisions arose with a call for nominations for a temporary chairman at the meeting, and lasted throughout the night.

Richard Shickle, former chairman of the Frederick County Board of Supervisors, was nominated, but lost on a 74-82 vote, and again on a recount, which was 76-88.

A measure to nominate Collins also failed.

A motion was made to nominate Shawn Graber, who had unsuccessfully tried to unseat Back Creek District Supervisor Gary Lofton on Nov. 3.The motion passed 81-72.

A credentials committee appointed by Graber reinstated the former members deemed to have resigned along with Berg for their support of him as a write-in candidate.

Former Chairman Andy Robbins objected to this, as did a woman who called out, "Are you overruling the Republican Party of Virginia's decision?"

Robbins said he had an opinion from the party's general counsel Chris Marston that said the members were not allowed back in yet.

"I've also spoken with several people from the Central Committee, and the mass meeting is the voice of the people," said David Sparkman, who Graber had named chairman of the rules committee. "And the Central Committee leaves it to the mass meeting to make these decisions."

When it came time to nominate candidates for party chairman, Robbins said only two names were received by the Feb. 26 deadline, and one, presumably Berg, was disqualified.

"There's only one candidate left standing," Robbins said.

Berg said, "The body has spoken, and I was voted back in. I'm qualified to be unit chairman."

Graber said the nominees were Berg and Allen Sibert, a major with the Winchester Sheriff's Office.

Prior to voting, Graber said a school employee had told him the auditorium had to be cleared because of time limits, and he would reconvene the meeting.

"No, now," was shouted. "Vote now."

Graber then said, "We will vote."

Sibert and Berg gave short speeches and were followed by another announcement from Graber.

"We've been told that they're calling the sheriff's office if we don't leave," he said. "We will have the vote in the parking lot."

Sparkman said, "We're having all the dirty tricks pulled on us tonight by the opposition."

While Graber was outside the school collecting ballots, several members of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office arrived and went inside the vestibule of the high school.

The majority of Sibert's supporters left, while Berg's stuck around.

Graber said the vote was 87-5 in favor of Berg.

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