- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

RICHMOND

The speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and two other senior House Republicans have joined the call for the removal of state Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick.

Speaker William J. Howell, House Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox and Delegate Samuel A. Nixon Jr., chairman of the House Republican Caucus, signed a letter Friday supporting Mr. Frederick’s ouster.

It voices “serious reservations” about Republicans being able to rebound from devastating 2008 losses in state races with Mr. Frederick at the helm.

Absent from the signatures, however, was House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith of Salem, who backs Mr. Frederick’s bid to retain his post.

The House leaders’ letter was addressed to members of the state party’s central committee, who will vote in a special April 4 meeting on whether to dismiss Mr. Frederick, now in the ninth month of his four-year term as chairman.

Fifty-eight of the 77 members of the committee have expressed support for Mr. Frederick’s removal.

Others who have called for him to step aside or be replaced include the party’s presumptive gubernatorial nominee, Bob McDonnell, all five of the state’s Republican members of Congress and the six members of the state Senate’s Republican leadership.

Mr. Howell, of Stafford, Mr. Cox, of Colonial Heights, and Mr. Nixon, of Chesterfield, wrote that this fall’s races are too important.

“As Republicans, the sum and substance of our message should not be about cliches and misguided comments,” the three House Republicans wrote.

Mr. Frederick’s comments to party volunteers last fall - comparing presidential candidate Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden - infuriated Democrats and dismayed the Republican presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“With its current chairman, we have serious reservations about how effectively the state party can help us accomplish our goals and persuade a majority of Virginia voters that Republicans have the right ideas and policy prescriptions to help resolve the issues they care most about,” the letter said.

Mr. Frederick, a three-term delegate who represents Prince William County, has declined to comment specifically on the proposed removal.

He said in a written statement that the 10 charges on which the removal call is based are “false and without merit.” He promised to respond to them in detail and in writing soon.

Mr. Frederick was overwhelmingly elected at the party’s state convention in May and has said repeatedly that his standing is strong among party members at local levels.

Despite mounting pressure from the party’s establishment for Mr. Frederick’s departure, removing him is neither easy nor assured.

Party rules require that 75 percent of the central committee members present for a vote have to vote for his ouster for it to take effect. If all 77 members attend, pro-ouster forces will need at least 58 votes.

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