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Grassroots GOP Grows in Numbers & Influence

The Waynesboro Republicans are men and women of principle. Their goal is to defend the Constitution, with energy, courage and good humor.

Published in the News Virginian, March 30, 2016

Major events are occurring in the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV). This article will discuss some of those events and explain their significance.

Let’s begin with a brief description of the organization of the RPV. The base of the Party encompasses 133 local committees, such as the Waynesboro Republican Committee.

The next level encompasses 11 Congressional District Committees, which overlay the geographic areas of Virginia’s 11 Congressional Representatives. The 6th Congressional District covers the Shenandoah Valley and is represented in Congress by Bob Goodlatte. The members of the 6th District Committee are the Chairpersons of the local committees within the District.

The top level of the RPV is the State Central Committee which has 84 members who are elected at Congressional District Conventions in the Spring of even-numbered years.

As you may know, there are two main groups within the Republican Party, the Establishment and the grassroots. The Establishment is led by elected officials and funded by large corporations. The grassroots are local people who seek to elect officials who will accurately represent them. They receive no outside financial support and are staffed by volunteers, not employees.

Now, let’s look at the long-term trends and recent events.

Since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the center of gravity of the Republican Party has been shifting from Establishment to grassroots. On a sustained incline, the influence of the grassroots has been increasing.

The tug-of-war between the Establishment and the grassroots continues today. Increasingly, the Establishment cannot depend on Republican voters to sustain them. That is why 33 State Republican Parties, such as Virginia’s RPV, use Open Primaries, which allow non-Republicans to choose Republican candidates for office.

But month after month, and year after year, the Republican Establishment is eroding like a sand castle. And month after month and year after year, the grassroots are becoming more numerous and more influential.

There is no better place to see that shift than right here in the 6th Congressional District.

The 6th District Committee has 32 members. Years ago, the majority of those members were supporters of the Establishment. Today, the majority of the members are grassroots people, or as they preferred to be called, Constitutional Conservatives.

A key member of the 6th District Committee has always been the Chairman. The current Chairman declined to run for re-election. To fill the vacancy, the Establishment enlisted Ralph Smith, a retired State Senator from Roanoke.

On Tuesday, March 22nd, Smith announced that he was withdrawing from the race to be the Chairman of the 6th District Committee. With two months of campaign time left before the election, Smith quit.

In a published statement, Smith wrote, in part, “The outcomes of recent local unit chairmanship races and the degree of turnover within those units, make it abundantly clear that the gap within the Republican Party that I saw earlier has continued to expand rather than shrink.”

The most significant insight from Ralph Smith’s campaign is his inability to identify the cause of the gap within the Republican Party. Most people, even casual political observers, understand that the gap exists because the Establishment does not represent grassroots voters.

Here are two examples of the lack of representation. The Establishment funds Obamacare, and the grassroots want it repealed. The Establishment funds illegal immigration and the grassroots want it stopped.

For some inexplicable reason, the Establishment just does not get it. And because they do not get it, the grassroots of the Republican Party will continue to increase in numbers and influence.

Ken Adams is the Chairman of the Waynesboro Virginia Republican Committee.