| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

Virginia delegation closes ranks behind Trump

Republican delegates nominated Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee Tuesday night, bringing an end to the Never Trump movement that sought to displace the longtime front-runner and ushering in the start of the party’s general election campaign.

Many eyes turned to the Virginia delegation, which had been a ringleader in an effort on Monday to change party rules aimed at devolving power to the party’s committee members. When the roll call of states began, many members of the Virginia delegation were not present on the floor.

But it wasn’t a sign of a new floor fight. Rather, many delegates were still at a reception hosted by the state’s largest electric utility, Dominion Resources.

Once the full delegation assembled, Subba Kolla, a Loudoun County realtor, and the first Indian-American member every chosen as a Virginia convention delegate, announced that the state’s delegates were casting their 49 votes for Trump, a billionaire real estate developer and media personality who dominated a large Republican field throughout the primaries.

The display of unity after a day of infighting was no accident, according to Republican Party of Virginia chairman John Whitbeck.  “We put the rules fight on Monday behind us and pulled together. The delegation met early on Tuesday, where we agreed there would be no protests” on the vote to nominate Trump Tuesday night.

There were disagreements, however. Whitbeck said those who had successfully challenged Virginia’s law binding delegates to vote for the winner of the state’s March 1 presidential primary, led by Winchester delegate Beau Carroll, wanted to poll the delegation to get an accurate count of how the state would vote when its turn came in the roll call.

“Those concerns were voiced respectfully, but the conditions under which a poll of the delegates would be necessary didn’t apply here,” Whitbeck said. “There were no problems with the delegation’s voting for Trump.”

Correll did not share Whitbeck's sentiment. While he does "not support Hillary Clinton" and "wants to beat her" in November, Correll said he remains dissatisfied with the way the convention leaders handled Virginia's attempt to change the party's rules.

"This convention consisted of multiple rule violations of national party rules by those in positions of power," Correll said in an exclusive statement to AMI Newswire. The shutdown of the dissenters, in his view, "all just reinforces the notion that this is just a scripted television show, not a political convention."

Correll said he has "moved on in the sense that, procedurally, the options are limited" for those seeking a nominee other than Trump.

Other Virginia Republicans were eager to move past the rules fight Monday, which played out on the floor of the convention in full view of television cameras. 

“We’re going to suck it up and move forward,” Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman, GOP gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart, told AMI Newswire. “I don’t sense any lingering grudges among the delegates from Virginia.” 

But that doesn't mean there haven't been any hurt feelings. Former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who had been chairman of the state’s delegation until ceding that title to Whitbeck, was not present on the floor during Tuesday night’s balloting.

Cuccinelli led the unsuccessful effort to change party rules in favor of closed primaries and greater authority for Republican National Committee members. Images of Cuccinelli throwing his credentials on the floor of the Quicken Arena after his proposals were rejected quickly went viral.

Cuccinelli did not respond to a request for comment from AMI Newswire.

“We need Ken in the party,” Stewart said. “He and I haven’t always seen things eye to eye, but I certainly wouldn’t want to see him leave the party.” 

Stewart said Virginia is one of the crucial states believed to be in play in November.  “With Virginia, arguably, being the most important state in November, we’re going to have to put our differences aside and work to get Trump elected,” he said. 

Whitbeck said he had met with Cuccinelli, who reiterated that he would back the nominee.

“The fighting is behind us,” Tim Hugo, a member of Virginia’s delegation and a member of the Republican leadership team in the House of Delegates. told AMI Newswire. “I was chairman of the Marco Rubio campaign in the state. I think the world of him, and wish he was the nominee. But we’ve made our choice. I’ll support that choice, because we need to beat Hillary Clinton in November.

“That’,” Hugo said, “is our only goal, and the one that unites this delegation coming out of Cleveland.”