Simpson Proves That In Loudoun, A Republican Pledge Is Like A Shillelagh

Steve Simpson Loudoun Sheriff Candidate
Spurned again: Loudoun County Republicans watch helplessly as Steve Simpson turns away from pledge of loyalty.

Is former Loudoun County sheriff Steve Simpson the only candidate dealing honestly with the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) pledge?

Long-expected and now about to become reality, Simpson is almost certainly running again as an Independent for sheriff, weeks after pledging to support the Republican nominee for that office.

Like the Irish walking stick that helps you get from point A to point B, serves a head smack to someone in the way, and holds seemingly magical powers, the pledge provides access to the LCRC institution, is invoked to threaten and sanction opponents, while projecting the committee’s faux-authority to intimidate neophytes and rubes.

Can you get from point A to B without a shillelagh? Of course you can, and when needed you can toss it aside – or simply wink at it and it will disappear. Because it is magical, and essentially fake. Just like the LCRC pledge.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I am here today not to bury Steve Simpson but to praise him, because in a political arena of mushmouthed lies, Simpson is unapologetically realistic.

All that matters is the office and who holds it. As you get further up the government hierarchy the two-party system dominates, but at the end of the day the parties are merely devices for getting to an actual place of power.

Oh, you might not know that from listening to the parties. They have principles and platforms and pledges and creeds. That’s all a load of hooey aimed at capturing market segments, as “principled” as the red of a soda can or the blue of a corporate logo.

The LCRC pledge takes on poignance in Simpson’s case for a few reasons. He supported Eric Noble prior to the LCRC convention, and Noble used the pledge as a club to hit his GOP primary opponent, Mike Chapman, repeatedly. Noble and his supporters online goaded Chapman about keeping the pledge, presumably under the expectation Noble would prevail at the convention and Chapman would be tempted to run as an Independent. Shortly after Noble lost, those supporters seemed rather positive about the possibility of Simpson breaking the pledges he took (in order to join the LCRC and then vote at the convention) and run for the office himself.

Disclosure: When I argue the LCRC pledge is a sham, I should point out, I do so as someone who has a 100 percent perfect record keeping the LCRC pledge. I have never failed to vote for an LCRC nominee on any ballot since I moved here in 2004, despite not being an LCRC member most of that time, and my loyalty includes 2007 when I supported the LCRC nominee for sheriff, Greg Ahlemann. That last item – if my calculations are correct – places me higher atop the pinnacle of LCRC perfection than the majority of Republicans who were on the committee in 2007.

Does that make me some kind of great Republican? No, in fact what it makes me is a rube. But let’s take a quick look the texts comprising the so-called pledge.

Here are the relevant sections of the official LCRC documents:

Continue reading “Simpson Proves That In Loudoun, A Republican Pledge Is Like A Shillelagh”

It’s All Fun And Games Until They Come After Your Candidate For Chairman

Mike Chapman and Charlie King
LCRC leadership needed to wait two full weeks to defend Sheriff Mike Chapman (L), and presumably will now wait until June 8 to defend Charlie King.

The political business of the day in Loudoun County is called moral equivalence. And business is good.

The local Republican leadership waited a full two weeks to defend Sheriff Mike Chapman against a rebellion contravening party rules, presumably out of prudence and a need to gather all the facts. It is safe to assume, then, that those same leaders will wait another two weeks – until, say, June 8 – to defend Charlie King.

Let’s not do anything rash, please.

Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) Chair Mike Haynes just issued a stern press release which is reprinted below the fold. In it, Haynes calls on former sheriff, former Republican, former Independent, newly-Republican and once again threatening-to-go Independent Steve Simpson, to please stick to the GOP “pledge” that Simpson just signed in order to vote at the LCRC Convention earlier this month.

To recap: Soon after the LCRC Convention results quashed the attempt of a GOP faction to take down Republican Sheriff Mike Chapman, Steve Simpson announced he was considering a run for sheriff as an Independent, despite having just rejoined the LCRC and supported Chapman’s challenger.

It became evident, and not very secret, that some in the anti-Chapman contingent of Republicans might be quietly celebrating Simpson’s entry. Voters need to have a choice, don’t ya know.

Response from the LCRC leadership about this open threat to reneg on the “pledge”? Not a peep.

Presumably Chapman was on his own.

Then yesterday, when Shawn Williams made noises about going back on HIS pledge, and joining the race for chairman, and dealing a very real threat to the head of the Republican ticket, Charlie King…. apparently alarms went off.

As they say in the vernacular: S–t just got real.

And the wink-wink at Steve Simpson became a little too hypocritical for comfort, apparently.

So before Haynes could fire off a press release chastising Shawn Williams – a press release that would pass the laugh test – someone must have whispered in his ear that he’d better, first, address that Steve Simpson fellow who was doing THE EXACT SAME THING two weeks ago.

Unfortunately you cannot back date a press release, but better late than never.

Mike Chapman finally got his party leadership’s support, and in a couple of weeks Haynes can issue a new press release, condemning Shawn Williams, that will not be met with a chorus of guffaws.

Here is the text of today’s LCRC press release.

Continue reading “It’s All Fun And Games Until They Come After Your Candidate For Chairman”

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.

Steve Simpson’s LCRC Experience Once Again Ends In Heartache

Steve Simpson
Former Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson reportedly re-joined the LCRC a few months ago.

Although he recently rejoined the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC), former Sheriff Steve Simpson says he is considering running for his old office – and because the LCRC nominee is current Sheriff Mike Chapman, Simpson will need to run either as a Democrat or Independent.

Until 2007, Simpson was the Republican sheriff of Loudoun County. He lost the GOP nomination that year, and successfully ran for office again as an Independent.

Simpson attended the April Republican candidates’ debate as a supporter of Eric Noble, and also participated in last week’s LCRC convention. In order to vote at the convention, Simpson had to sign a pledge to support the Republican ticket in the fall.

The LCRC pledge, however, is regarded as dubious by many observers, and Simpson’s recent statement certainly confirms it.

As reported today at The Bull Elephant, Simpson says he is being encouraged by members of both parties. Simpson says “many” LCRC convention participants were unhappy that Eric Noble lost the contest to Mike Chapman, and “have contacted me asking me to run.”

Someone uninformed about the inherent holiness of the Republican Party might think this is about nothing more than a raw quest for power. But the LCRC has had a love-hate relationship with the Independent side of the fence and there would be ample precedent for LCRC members to encourage such a candidate.

In 2007, a large segment of the committee turned their back on the Republican nominee for sheriff, Greg Ahlemann, in order to support Simpson’s Independent campaign. Simpson had been defeated by Ahlemann for the GOP nomination at the June, 2007 LCRC convention, and the next morning reneged on the Republican “pledge” and announced he would run as an Independent.

Because of Simpson’s history as an Independent, it seems likely that is the route he would take.

At LCRC, It’s All Over But The Shouting

Mike Chapman (foreground) and Eric Noble (background) work the line of delegates from Sterling district waiting to enter the voting area.

The voting process went very quickly once the Ashburn problem was cleared, or pushed temporarily to the side as the case may be.

Everyone here to vote has voted. Most have left the building.

Those who are hard core will sit, and eat candy, and wait. The introverts, I mean. Others are probably out talking.

It would seem if the vote is close for either sheriff or Ashburn supervisor, this could get complicated. The overvote would affect two races. So, one would hope that neither race is close, because one can only eat so much candy.

First Convention Report – Sheriff Speeches

The convention speeches began at 10:15 am, which is pretty impressive. The check in process went extremely smoothly and no time was wasted getting the meeting started.

Here is a cursory overview of the sheriff speeches.

Noble was more subdued than in previous times I have heard him speak.

New focus was on comprehensive traffic safety plan – actually most of the speech was about the fact that traffic danger is a major concern, and it means a lot to him to solve it.

Yes the survey said we feel happy with public safety, we also care about traffic, and the LCSO has no current safety plan.

I have dealt with traffic accidents firsthand, and if my plan saves only one life it will be worth it.

We feel safe, but that is not because of the sheriff, but the men and women of the LCSO.

Chapman (much more energetic, and was so rapid fire I could barely take notes.)

Note accomplishments of the agency, from moving it forward technologically and successful partnerships.

Opponent says we should focus on street level work, but it would have taken thousands of street arrests to get results of the recent busts.

Integrity is the hallmark of my administration. My opponent wants more arrests and to scare us about Metro which will not be here until 2020. I want to move us forward not backward.

MY TAKE – both did well, likely neither a game changer but Chapman reversed the dynamic from the April 13 debate. Now, I think the winner will be who turned out the delegates because I don’t see many changing their intention.

My wife just noted there are a TON of Ashburn delegates (for the contested supervisor race) and for those who had not already made up their mind on the sheriff race, Mike Chapman might have helped himself. Besides being more lively, his content was more substantial.

But again, if you came here to vote for Noble, you probably would not have changed your mind.

UPDATE: We are in the time-to-kill part of the meeting, as each district goes to vote, and board chairman candidate Charlie King said one of his themes will be “Keep Loudoun Little.” Here’s hoping there is a way to shrink the school budget, unless the goal is to keep everything else little, besides the billion dollar school system.

UPDATE II: I am told he said Keep Loudoun Livable. Well from the back of the room, that’s not what it sounded like. It makes more sense…. but let this be a lesson on the importance of enunciation. Charlie should get some tips on that from Matt Letourneau.

LCRC Convention Coverage Tomorrow

If the Blackberry gods are smiling upon us (yes, I am an old school reporter from like 2005) I will post an update or two from the Loudoun County Republican Committee convention tomorrow.

Mainly, I will be covering, in detail, the speeches of the approximately 27 candidates who are unopposed at the convention.

If time permits, I will try to pass along observations on the sheriff race, in the event anything interesting happens on that one.

Noble’s Supporters Show Desperation In Closing Days

In about 48 hours the Loudoun County Republican campaign for sheriff will be done, but over the past 12 hours Eric Noble’s supporters have been caught in laughable acts of desperation. Beginning with an attempt to reclaim a “Tea Party” pedigree, of all things, and continuing with a humiliating smack-down by the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC), these daft moves may or may not reflect the Noble campaign’s internal assessment of the race in its closing days.

Is Eric Noble’s campaign this incompetent? While it seems to have been run pretty darn well up until yesterday, something like the email below, sent right before the convention, suggests otherwise.

LCRC Eric Noble correction
A devastating official reprimand: Today’s LCRC email says one of two dishonest acts occurred, both of which point to ethical lapses by the Noble campaign (click for larger image).
According to this official LCRC statement, the email that went out yesterday to certain LCRC delegates points to a major ethical lapse by Noble’s campaign. Either the campaign itself sent out a dishonest message, or the campaign gave the delegate list to someone who sent out the message. In either case, according to the LCRC, Eric Noble’s campaign is responsible.

The offending email was received this morning. Framed as an official LCRC communication, it contains registration instructions for Saturday’s convention – along with an endorsement of Eric Noble, right in the body of the text just before the time and location, and two attachments which are Noble campaign materials.

The email is nothing less than a breathtaking act of political deceit, and an attempt to manipulate the vote by claiming party sanction of one for the candidates.

Less legally dubious, and much more humorous: Yesterday afternoon a blogger who co-owns the Republican site The Bull Elephant tried to claim that certain “Tea Party” endorsements are more bona fide than others. Anyone who knows anything about so-called Tea Party groups knows that your dog and cat can form a “Tea Party.”

Continue reading “Noble’s Supporters Show Desperation In Closing Days”

Understanding The Loudoun Sheriff Campaign In Six Minutes

Mike Chapman at Sheriff Candidate Debate
For those of you who want a quick primer on the 2015 campaign for Loudoun County sheriff, this short video clip from the April 13 debate captures a lot. If you are a delegate at Saturday’s Loudoun County Republican Committee convention, you ought to watch this because it underlies what you will hear in the speeches by current Sheriff Mike Chapman, and the challenger Eric Noble.

The video is from the point where the men are allowed to ask the other a question. It contains Mike Chapman’s question, Eric Noble’s answer, and Chapman’s rebuttal.

Watch the interchange and listen carefully. (If you are not in a position to watch video, here is a link to the relevant part of the transcript – but the video gives a much better understanding.)

Chapman sums up the problem he has had with Noble from the beginning of the campaign, and which Chapman up until this point has not stated this directly: When Chapman took office, he elevated Noble to a position of trust and authority, following Noble’s professed desire to serve in the new administration. But from early on, Noble worked to undermine Chapman, in public yet under the cloak of anonymity, rather than address the disagreements in-house.

Yes, it is a long question, but for anyone listening it could have been boiled down to a very short one. To paraphrase Julius Caesar:

Continue reading “Understanding The Loudoun Sheriff Campaign In Six Minutes”

Sheriff Chapman: Disappointed in Jim Plowman

Sheriff Mike Chapman
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman just released a comprehensive reply to the commonwealth’s attorney.

Below is a letter just received from Sheriff Mike Chapman, in response to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman’s letter issued yesterday.

In addition to the fact that Chapman was able to fire off such a comprehensive reply in such a short time, what follows is worth reading for two more reasons. First, this is a unique public argument, between our sheriff and chief prosecutor.

But more importantly, Chapman’s letter addresses ongoing controversial issues (including some touched on in yesterday’s post here), with surprising frankness: quite a departure from the typical euphemistic official-speak we are accustomed to hearing from elected officials.

If you want an unvarnished view of matters of serious disagreement between the sheriff and Plowman – and the challenger, Eric Noble – touching on politics, policy and ethics … here it is.

April 27, 2015

Dear Delegate,

Today Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman distributed a letter containing false statements to help Mr. Noble win the Republican nomination. His motive is clear and he offers no facts. He simply wants a puppet for sheriff. Here is the real evidence:

Continue reading “Sheriff Chapman: Disappointed in Jim Plowman”

Both Sheriff Candidates Claim Focus On The Future

Steve Simpson supporting Eric Noble
Former Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson supporting Eric Noble at the April 13 candidates’ debate. Noble says some things were better under the old regime, but also that Simpson may have become insulated from problems in the agency during his last years in office.

He campaigned in 2011 on a platform “to move the Sheriff’s Office into the 21st century,” and Mike Chapman says the many innovations he brought have done exactly that. But Loudoun County’s sheriff says there have been contingents within both the Republican Party and the Sheriff’s Office who continue to see him as an unwelcome change.

Chapman says, from the naysayers’ viewpoint: “Back then I was the outsider; I’m still the outsider.”

In addition to making personnel changes that upset the “old guard” when he first came into office, Chapman thinks his approach to bringing problems to light, and inviting outside agencies to ensure objectivity, has not gone over well with everyone.

“I’m the one that uncovers things, and it ticks them off. When we caught up with the asset forfeiture accounts being changed back in 2008, as soon as we found there was an anomaly I called in the state police to investigate.”

Regarding certain conflicts – including on issues where he has taken an opposing position from that of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office – Chapman has observed that there is an old guard within the local government for whom maintaining control – “the power thing” – is paramount.

“But for me, it’s not. It’s just about doing the right thing. And when you have a situation like money disappearing, I don’t want there to be any suspicion we are trying to cover anything up. I want to have somebody from the outside come in. They are not used to that in this county. In many ways it’s still backwards.”

Chapman’s challenger for the Republican nomination, Eric Noble, believes Chapman has not been forward-thinking enough, and cites the expanding heroin problem in Loudoun County as evidence.

Continue reading “Both Sheriff Candidates Claim Focus On The Future”

The Sheriff Versus The Puppets

Eric Noble - Loudoun Lifer, Ricky Frye - Lone Wolf
Loudoun Lifer (L) and Lone Wolf, aka, Eric Noble and Ricky Frye. (Of other aliases … only the local news editors know for sure).

Some say elections are won and lost by soldiers in the trenches. Boots on the ground. None fits that bill better than the contest for sheriff of Loudoun County, where boots cover socks, and soldiers are puppets.

In other words: Sock puppets.

Of the gifts Loudoun County politics bestows upon local bloggers – and trust me, the cornucopia is bountiful – few surpass the sideshows and subplots of our beloved quadrennial sheriff campaigns.

This year, the incumbent Sheriff Mike Chapman faces former deputy Eric Noble in the battle for the Republican nomination, which will be decided on May 2 at the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention. Both are likeable, decent men. As noted in yesterday’s article, Chapman has enjoyed a successful first term in office, though periodically under surprising criticism from political opponents within the LCRC.

One of Noble’s key errors in the run up to this race was to engage in anonymous commenting on local news sites, along with his campaign “tag team” member and former Loudoun deputy, Ricky Frye. Despite being an impressive public speaker and – in my opinion – political natural, Noble has undercut some of his key campaign messages this time around. For instance, Noble has levelled the charge that Chapman’s management style is too controlling and extends too far down the chain of command, but experienced managers may well read the story that follows as evidence of Chapman’s need to do exactly that, coming in, in order to improve the agency.

This unforced error does not mean Noble should be written off politically: If he does not prevail on May 2, he seems a likely candidate for another office in the future.

But some convention voters may balk because, as Chapman has said, the expectation of honesty and integrity is higher for the Sheriff’s Office than for most jobs: “We don’t just have to abide by the law. We have to abide by General Orders.”

So, about this rookie mistake. Who among us has not been tempted to don a persona and give it voice? Fulminating or complaining from the safety of anonymity: What finer of guilty pleasures can there be? Be cautious when holding forth on matters over which you someday wish to preside, of course. Like if you plan to get into a pitched and negative political campaign, and you plan to be the one pushing the negative angle, then you might want to be really, really non-specific in your anonymous statements.

So they don’t get traced back to you.

But in any case, the Loudoun County sock puppet story needs to be brought out into the open so it can be fully acknowledged, and put to bed. It will be useful for those interested in this particular campaign, and perhaps also for anyone attempting to balance puppetry and politics going forward.

Chapman, Noble and Frye are not the only characters in this tale. But they are the only ones made of flesh and blood.

Continue reading “The Sheriff Versus The Puppets”

Politics and Hyperbole in the Loudoun Sheriff’s Nomination Contest

One of Eric Noble’s key supporters, Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, employed some “hyperbole” on Twitter in comparing Sheriff Mike Chapman to Saddam Hussein

Having earned a record 91.5% public approval rating, and with the crime rate down 18%, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office under Mike Chapman would seem headed into the 2015 election season on a high note. And by all accounts, among county residents, that is the case.

But within the local political party it’s a different story, and Chapman faces a nomination contest prior to the November elections. Instead of anything resembling smooth sailing, Chapman’s potential path to re-election will be turbulent. He must overcome a Republican faction bearing overheated rhetoric – and taunting Chapman to quit the party – and an opponent leading a mini-rebellion from within the agency (which actually began about the time Chapman took office) who also happens to have the backing of a Republican-turned-Independent, turned-Republican, former sheriff (who always seemed to hold substantial Republican support). And there is a subplot, with sock puppets.

Party politics is about nothing if not chest-thumping, temporary loyalty, brandished in a bellicose spree of righteousness and situational ethics, where a careful observer can almost always pinpoint the irony.

This introduction is the first in a series of articles between now and the May 2 Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention, in which we’ll cover some of the complexities of the race for the nomination for sheriff.

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