- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A candidate who unsuccessfully ran to represent Virginia on the Democratic National Committee is appealing the election results from a convention earlier this month that descended into chaos, confusion and substantial intraparty finger-pointing.

Ben Tribbett has written a formal appeal letter to Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian J. Moran, charging him with violating procedural rules at the party’s convention in Fairfax earlier this month. These violations, Mr. Tribbett claims, damaged his candidacy and led to the election of Hampton Vice Mayor George Wallace to the DNC.

Mr. Tribbett, who writes the often-caustic Not Larry Sabato blog, is not challenging the election of three other members — Mame Reiley, Doris Crouse-Mays, and Frank Leone — because they were chosen before the alleged rules violations.

“This is step one in a number of steps to deal with the problems with this convention,” Mr. Tribbett said.

Mr. Tribbett claims Mr. Moran twice instructed delegates to stand for “division” — meaning backers of each candidate would stand up to signify their support — when they were actually standing to suspend the rules. Mr. Moran then ruled that two-thirds of the crowd was standing, the rules were suspended, and he immediately moved to a standing vote for election to the DNC, according to the appeal.

Seeing that he was likely to lose the standing vote, Mr. Tribbett moved to elect Mr. Wallace by acclamation, while reserving his right to appeal.

In the appeal to Mr. Moran, Mr. Tribbett listed Paul Goldman, a former Democratic Party of Virginia chairman, and Delegate Joseph P. Morrissey, Henrico Democrat, as his attorneys.

“In a sense, the appeal speaks for itself,” Mr. Goldman said. “Ben lays out the case, basically, for chaos. You’ve got to follow the rules as they are — be forceful, be fair.”

Mr. Morrissey said many people at the convention think that rules were broken, regardless of which candidates they supported.

“Importantly, it’s a sense of fairness and due process not only for Mr. Tribbett, but for all of the delegates,” he said. “The chaotic nature of the balloting process, the moving to a voice vote, the time constraints that were put on the membersreally deprived not just Tribbett, but all of the people to have ‘one man, one vote.’”

The party has maintained that all the proper rules were followed and that the eventual vote by acclamation was a perfectly acceptable form to elect the Hampton vice mayor.

“We received Mr. Tribbett’s complaint yesterday afternoon,” Democratic Party of Virginia communications director Brian Coy said Wednesday. “We take these matters seriously, and we will respond after we have had an opportunity to review its contents and consult with the chairman and party leadership.”

The convention was preceded by an aggressive email campaign against Mr. Tribbett — who frequently targets Democrats on his blog — to credentialed delegates.

“We need DNC members from Virginia who will help build our party, support our Democratic elected officials, and nurture current and future candidates,” 11th Congressional District Democratic Committee Chairman George Burke wrote on May 31. “Ben Tribbett will do nothing of the sort. Don’t give Ben Tribbett a national stage to embarrass Virginia Democrats and continue to tear down good Democrats at every level from the White House to Main Street.”

Because of the campaign, Mr. Tribbett felt he would perform better on a secret ballot rather than the standing vote that was to be used to elect Mr. Wallace.

But the reputation that precedes Mr. Tribbett should not be a factor in his appeal, said Dan Sullivan, a convention delegate from the 6th Congressional District.

“I just think that Ben’s appeal should receive fair consideration, and the decision should be based on the merits of the appeal and not the personalities involved,” Mr. Sullivan said.

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