DNC Credentials Committee Rejects Challenge To Biafore And Other WV Leaders - West Virginia Daily News
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DNC Credentials Committee Rejects Challenge To Biafore And Other WV Leaders

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The Democratic National Committee Credentials Committee rejected a challenge to allowing several leaders in the West Virginia Democratic Party to be instated in the national party on Tuesday, June 15. The meeting saw West Virginia Democratic Party Chair Belinda Biafore defend herself against a challenge filed with the DNC Credentials Committee by Selina Vickers and a group of grassroots Democrats looking to reform the party/bait their challenge.

“I want to turn to the key issues of our challenge,” said Vickers. “First is the issue of notice. Second is the lack of outreach to historically underrepresented groups, and third is the unacceptable lack of diversity in the membership of the executive committee as of June 29, 2020. … The key element to achieving this goal is effective notice — not just to party insiders but to all of those that wish to participate. The so-called notice provided by the executive committee in connection with the important elections of June 29, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called effective notice.”

Both Biafore and Vickers referred to a legal ad in the Charleston Gazette Mail published five days before the state executive committee meeting where the officers were elected. Biafore pushed against the accusations of not properly notifying the election.

“We sent notice by mail or email twice to every member of the executive committee, which is the body that votes in the election on this issue,” said Biafore. “We also took out a paid ad in a statewide newspaper announcing the meeting. We sent several press releases to other outlets in the state. We added the meeting to our calendar of events blog on our website and we emailed a general list of West Virginia Democrats. Our bylaws require notice to members and a press release, and we fully complied.”

She continued, pointing to the challenge the national party was specifically considering in the hearing.

“Let’s talk about what this challenge is really about,” Biafore said. “This is a challenge to the unanimous elections of four DNC members. A vote to deny us these credentials would be a vote against the unanimous choices of our party. These challenges raise several complaints about our party’s composition and practices. While there is always room for improvement, … the challenges have not even attempted to present evidence that any aspect would have been any different. … No one ran against us. Other races on June 29th were contested — ours were not. Not one person has come forward to say they would have run against us, but, somehow, we prevented them from doing so. If the challengers had wanted representation on the DNC, they could have run themselves or recruited candidates to run against us, but they did not. Now they are asking you to intervene and overturn an election they didn’t even contest.”

Vickers pointed out the ad did not identify which officers were being elected and the location of the meeting. In addition, the limited notice did not give her and other organizers time to find others to run against Biafore in the same way they have in other positions in the state party.

“With five days notice to contact, ballpark, 100 people … that is difficult to do,” Vickers said. “If you were going to give people a fair opportunity, which is what the bylaws say, … how in the world can you do that with five days notice? I also want to point out that the offices weren’t even listed. It just said election of officers. I want to be really clear that nowhere, in any document, that was sent out by the party, … there was zero notice those positions were to be there.”

Biafore noted an email list of approximately 30,000 also received notice from the party. Vickers pushed back, providing witness testimony of several people who are signed on to that mailing list that did not receive an email notification but have received email from this mailing list. This included Jean Evansmore, a leader in the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, Dierdra Purdy, chair of the Calhoun County Democratic Executive Committee, and several more.

Biafore also denounced the challenge as being one of nine filed against the state party by Vickers in the past two years.

“Despite Ms. Vickers inflammatory rhetoric, she did raise some helpful points about how our bylaws could be improved,” Biafore said. “So to ensure that our party was doing all we could do to welcome diverse voices, last summer we agreed to conduct a comprehensive review of our bylaws. … This challenge raises the exact same issues that Ms. Vickers agreed to withdraw [after the agreement] two days before. Word for word, it is the same challenge against the same people, although it was based on them being automatic delegates to the convention. I had hoped this MOU and the monumental task ahead of us to grow our party, Ms. Vickers would set aside her desire to oust me and my fellow officers through DNC challenges and instead would focus her energies on the task at hand. Instead of proceeding in good faith, she filed this challenge and escalated her attacks on us. Filing this challenge showed a lack of respect to the agreement she had just made with me and the Rules and Bylaws Committee co-chairs.”

Vickers emphasized her desire to massively expand the party in West Virginia.

“One of the fundamental elements of our party rules is to ensure that all those who wish to participate in Democratic Party affairs have the opportunity to do so,” Vickers said. “The key element to achieving this goal is effective notice — not just to party insiders but to all of those that wish to participate.”

The decision from DNC Credentials Committee was to allow Belinda Biafore, Vice-Chair Rod Snyder, National Committeewoman Elaine Harris, and National Committeeman Patrick Maroney to be credentialed as members of the DNC. Several Credentials Committee members expressed a reluctance to not credential those elected by unanimous votes by their state executive committee. Members also noted that this decision did not reflect any approval or disapproval of West Virginia’s Affirmative Action Plan.

Since the contentious June 3 meeting of the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee, more local Democratic executive committees have issued votes of no confidence. This includes Greenbrier County, Mercer County, Fayette County, Wood County, and Monongalia County.

“This follows years of decline of the Democratic Party under her leadership, taking us from a legislative supermajority to a super-minority,” announced the Greenbrier County Executive Committee. “Support for our county Democrats has been non-existent … Statewide assistance for promoting candidates, voter registration, and get out the vote projects has been left entirely to local clubs, candidates, and organizations, with no strategy or planning from our state office.”

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