ST. THOMAS — A Superior Court judge in a judgement handed down Tuesday said that there was no 90-day residency deadline or requirement to register to vote in the territory, potentially ending the party-damaging scuffles and insults among local Republicans.
It also serves as a stinging rebuke to John Canegata — still recovering from a wounding conclusion last week by the National Republican Committee that the original delegates would be the ones representing the territory in Cleveland — who had gone above and beyond to ensure that the delegates who won the local party’s caucus in March, would not be the ones representing the territory this month at the party’s convention.
The territory’s laws does not impose a 90-day residency requirement the plaintiffs or any other Virgin Islands voter, said Judge Kathleen MacKay as part of her judgement.
The local party descended into mayhem following John Yob’s win, after Mr. Canegata decided that the original caucus winners had failed to comply with a party rule and therefore were ineligible. Explaining himself, Mr. Canegatga said in a press release that the delegates had five days to “confirm, in writing, that he or she accepts election” and that they were “willing and able” to attend the convention. The aforementioned candidates, the release argued, had failed to state whether they could attend and had therefore been disqualified.
But in a widely circulated response, Mr. Yob — a political operative that understands the innards of elections, who has written a book about contested political conventions; owns a Michigan-based consulting firm called Strategic National; and is a former national political director for former Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul — assailed Mr. Canegata and said that he, as well as the other candidates that Mr. Canegata declared ineligible, remained qualified.
Further bolstering his claims, Mr. Yob posted a screenshot on his Facebook page of a statement issued by Certification Committee Member Jim Oliver, which stands in stark contrast to Mr. Canegata’s claims.
The failure of that strategy led to other attempts to remove the original caucus victors. The back-and-forth became so distasteful that a scuffle apparently ended with Gwendolyn Brady, one of the March caucus winners, allegedly being “slammed against a wall” during a meeting. A video showing the beginning of the melee can be seen here.
But that’s not all. There are currently dueling groups claiming to lead the local party; a fight that could continue for a long time.