By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
RICHMOND, Va. – A fence-straddling Republican who may have swung a Senate election for Democrats last month is contending for the House of Delegates.
And he has many Eastern Shore conservatives spitting sand.
The 100th House district – which stretches from Norfolk to Accomack County – opened when incumbent Democrat Lynwood Lewis moved up to the Senate.
Lewis’ 11-vote squeaker over Republican Wayne Coleman in last month’s special election blocked the GOP from retaining control of the Senate.
Now Robert Bloxom Jr. – who refused to publicly endorse Coleman – is vying to succeed Lewis as a Republican.
Bloxom’s failure to back Coleman may well have tipped the pivotal Senate election for the Democrats. As son of former GOP Delegate Robert “Bob” Bloxom Sr., junior was in position to aid the Republican cause.
Bloxom defended his neutrality in the race by saying Lewis is a personal friend and second cousin to his wife.
Political compromise seems to run in the family. Bloxom’s father was an early endorser of Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor, and served as secretary of agriculture under Tim Kaine, another Democrat.
But with a GOP nomination meeting set for Saturday, Bloxom the younger says he’s all in for the conservative cause.
Saying he “was approached by both Democrats and Republicans to run,” Bloxom nonetheless describes himself as “a small-government Republican.”
Yet Bloxom is late to the party, literally. He did not file an application to become a member of the local Republican unit until Dec. 16.
Melody Scalley — a lifelong Republican, party activist and former GOP House candidate — is squaring off against Bloxom at Saturday’s meeting in Onley.
Republican activists are ramping up a get-out-the-vote effort for Scalley, and party officials plan to weed out any Democrats who try to cast ballots.
The call for the mass meeting states that participants must be “in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and who, if requested, express in the open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required, their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election.”
The rules also stipulate that “a person otherwise qualified hereunder shall not have participated in Virginia in the nomination process of a party other than the Republican Party with in the last five years.” Their oath will be kept on file with the Republican Party of Virginia.
GOP officials will have voter rolls on hand Saturday, and Scalley said her campaign will be observing the process.
Democrats have employed similar loyalty oaths at their nomination meetings.
In a statement to Watchdog on Wednesday, Scalley said:
“As we watch the liberal Democrats in Richmond disregarding our state Constitution, blatantly breaking Senate rules to remove Republicans from committees and ignoring the rule of law in Virginia, it is more important than ever we elect a principled delegate to represent the 100th District.”
She said Bloxom’s decision not to endorse Coleman “certainly cost us more than 11 votes and gave the Democrats complete control of the Senate. Were he to be elected as our delegate, why would we think he would be willing to take a principled stand on important issues at the legislature?”
State Sen. Steve Martin issued a call for action Tuesday. The Chesterfield Republican praised Scalley as “a solid conservative with a record of working hard for our limited government principles.
“Melody has the right understanding and respect for the district she is seeking to represent,” Martin said.
This article was updated at 8:52 a.m.
Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at email@example.com or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward