Republicans Show United Front While Democrats Reel From Self-Inflicted Wounds

In one of the stranger political counterpoints in recent memory, Loudoun County’s Democratic and Republican constitutional officer candidates each made their own respective news yesterday. The Republicans came out ahead.

While the LCRC was all about unity and party, the LCDC (“LC” possibly now meaning “Litigation Central”) was more evocative of hoisting, and petards.

LCRC Mike Chapman
WE’RE ONE TEAM: Sheriff Mike Chapman at Republican unity event, with GOP candidates, including Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman (back row, second from left), who opposed Chapman’s nomination earlier this year.
On a sunny Friday afternoon on the historic Leesburg courthouse steps, Loudoun County Republican candidates and elected officials stood in a show of unity, delivering statements and holding a brief press conference.

Notably, Sheriff Mike Chapman and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman shared the same stage. Just over a month ago, at the LCRC convention, Plowman opposed Chapman’s nomination to another term. Plowman had actively supported Chapman’s primary opponent, Eric Noble. (Plowman was unopposed for nomination).

Chapman, appearing relaxed and upbeat, said the convention had provided Republicans “an opportunity to air our differences,” and

Now is the time when we all pull together… We share the same values of fiscal responsibility, law and order, the ability to treat each other with dignity and respect. This is about pooling all of our resources together, working as a team, going forward as a team, and making sure that the voters out there understand what we’re all about.

Asked whether his campaign would highlight any of the ethics questions involving his current opponent and former sheriff Stephen O. Simpson, raised in the media during the 2011 campaign, Chapman said he ran a positive campaign then, and would take the same approach in 2015, emphasizing the accomplishments of the past four years.

[Also speaking at the GOP unity event were candidate for Board chair, Charlie King, and several other Republican nominees, who together provided a good preview of themes for the upcoming campaign. Click here for the second part of our coverage at FirewallNOVA.]

The cheery end to the week did not extend to the Democratic side of town, and here is where the irony comes in: Just prior to the GOP unity event, the Loudoun Times-Mirror published a story about the Loudoun Democrats’ rejection of their candidate for sheriff – to be a member of their own political committee. (Also noted here at FWN.) When the vote came, according to the report, it appears the sheriff candidate did not receive a single vote from the membership.

But that may not have been the biggest news in the piece by reporter Crystal Owens. Brian Allman, the sheriff nominee, who is now engaged in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against at least one LCDC member, apparently was originally supported for nomination by the Democrats’ candidate for commonwealth’s attorney, Bob Ohneiser. (In order to be voted on, Allman’s nomination for membership had to be seconded at the previous month’s meeting, and that second was provided by Ohneiser.)

STILL ON THE SAME PAGE? Democratic sheriff candidate Brian Allman (L) was supported by the Democrats’ nominee for commonwealth’s attorney, Bob Ohneiser.
Whether Ohneiser brought Allman to the LCDC for consideration originally, Owens’ story does not say, but Ohneiser’s support for Allman might clear up one mystery: How did Allman get the sheriff nomination in the first place, when he was not even a member of the committee? Vouching by a prominent local Democrat like Ohneiser could have made a newcomer’s path to nomination smoother.

So while the Republican commonwealth’s attorney candidate was working very publicly against the eventual Republican sheriff nominee, the Democratic CA candidate was supporting the Democrats’ sheriff nominee. And while the first two have made up well enough now, in June, to present at least a nominal united front, the latter two may still be united, but the only “front” they present is more like the lead cars in a train wreck.

It would not be surprising if, during the upcoming campaign, Republican candidates posed the question to their Democratic opponents: Have you gotten your house in order yet, and what have you learned, to assure voters you would not bring the management chaos of the Democratic Committee to Loudoun County as a whole?

The LTM story also does not say whether LCDC Chair Val Suzdak has changed her position on the Brian Allman nomination. In a March press release, Suzdak praised the LCDC ticket – including Brian Allman – as “the strongest, most dedicated, and most virtuous group of candidates I’ve seen since I’ve lived here in Loudoun County.” However, at this time, Allman is no longer listed on the LCDC Web page as a 2015 candidate. Suzdak has not responded to a FirewallNOVA request for comment.

The Democratic Party, as a rule, champions the right to redress a wrong through legal means, which is seen as a key protection accorded everyone in modern civil society. Without the right to sue for damages, the average citizen has no legal recourse.

We will need to wait and see if the Loudoun Democrats can move on from this episode of misunderstanding, and join together in support of their own average citizen, a sheriff candidate who thus far appears to have done no more than exercise his Democratic-supported right to redress. Maybe they will even have the discussion about his qualifications which they should have had months ago, and then reconsider his membership (although one supposes he would need to drop the lawsuit first). If Brian Allman becomes a committee member, the LCDC will save face and Allman will likely have an easier time conducting a viable campaign.

Brian Allman Lawsuit Creates Multiple Headaches For Loudoun Democrats

Brian Allman, sheriff candidate
Loudoun Democrats’ candidate for sheriff, Brian P. Allman

The Loudoun County Democrats’ candidate for sheriff, Brian P. Allman, does not appear to have a campaign Web site yet, but he is already making an impact on the sheriff contest – and possibly other races as well.

According to Leesburg Today, Allman has filed a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against fellow Democrat – and key party volunteer – Larry Roeder. Allman’s suit reportedly claims both that Roeder defamed Allman in the course of challenging Allman’s petition for membership in the Loudoun County Democratic Committee (LCDC), and that Roeder plans to run for sheriff himself.

Presumably the situation at LCDC is still quite fluid, but some of the questions likely to be addressed in the imminent future are:

  • whether the committee will hear any challenges to Allman’s standing as the Democratic nominee – which he was named in late March;
  • if he remains the nominee, how to repair the relationship such that Allman’s candidacy can be promoted in the same manner as the campaigns of other Democratic nominees; and
  • whether the LCDC will provide any legal or financial assistance to Roeder in his response to the suit.

(LCDC Chairwoman Valerie Suzdak has not responded to FirewallNOVA’s request for comment, but if she does we will update this post.)

If the LCDC withdraws support for Allman’s candidacy, either by actually withdrawing the nomination or as a result of a lack of enthusiasm among LCDC members, the door will appear even more open for another candidate (ahem) to enter the race, than already is the case.

In addition to legal and financial complications brought about by having a candidate sue a committee member, in this case the target is someone who has been an instrumental volunteer for the LCDC. Roeder has opened portions of his home to serve as grassroots headquarter offices in past election seasons for the Democrats, and has dedicated many personal hours of work. Will Roeder be able to contribute to the same extent for the 2015 campaign season?

Normally, the formula for winning a local campaign would include some combination of: A) access to piles of money, and B) the goodwill of an army of grassroots volunteers. If A is lacking, it must be made up for with B, and vice versa. Presumably, even without this lawsuit, the LCDC would have to consider carefully where to allocate money and labor for the many races taking place. Now, that calculation will be more complex, especially if Allman remains the nominee. And to the extent that Allman was going to be responsible for coming up with most of his campaign resources anyway, as all candidates are, it will be interesting to see whether he will draw money, or activists, or both.

From an outsider’s perspective, the situation has a surreal aspect to it – mainly because of the logistical nightmare facing the LCDC, but also because of the surprise factor in learning Larry Roeder is accused of wanting the sheriff’s job. That would seem to contradict his public image.

But for an already-bizarre campaign that has been conducted more in newspaper comment sections than anywhere else (in fact, if you search the Web, most of the statements you can find from Brian Allman regarding the campaign are newspaper comments), maybe surreal is the new normal.

In April, the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported that Allman has filed at least 25 civil lawsuits over the past few decades. In the course of one case, he allegedly repeatedly referred to an opposing attorney using a term for a part of the female anatomy.

The Times-Mirror asked Suzdak, the LCDC chair, about that allegation against Allman, and Suzdak said it “wasn’t something that raised to the level of major concern to me where I felt like he wouldn’t be able to be a strong candidate and be able to do the job as sheriff when he gets elected …. We’re happy to have him as the nominee and we’re looking forward to November.”

Presumably the LCDC’s nomination procedure is being rethought and its level-of-concern meter has been recalibrated.

Democratic Fireworks Over Nominee for Sheriff

The Loudoun Times-Mirror has a story about Brian Allman, the Democrats’ nominee for sheriff, being asked to leave last night’s meeting of the county Democratic Committee, after making threatening remarks to one of the members. For a breath-taking look at the events, see John Flannery’s video (video) of some of Allman’s remarks: