Yesterday, I’d planned on doing a primer post on the upcoming caucus in the US Virgin Islands. The chart I’d been using indicated the caucus was to take place on March 19, with the confusion extending even to the media.
Turns out it was actually on March 10. Whoops! Still, I wanted to give some coverage to the election results, so here we go.
As previously noted in my post on conditions in the US Virgin Islands, the islands are quite small, with a population of only 103,574. Like many of the other US territories, they have suffered a serious economic depression. The specific reasons for the problems in each territory are slightly different. In the case of the Virgin Islands, it was due to the 2008 recession, the Caribbean debt crisis, US regulatory meddling, and the closure of the HOVENSA oil refinery which was the islands’ largest private employer. They suffer from one of the highest homicide rates in the world as well, comparable to countries like Honduras.
Their system is a closed caucus. Given the islands’ small size and population, they will send only nine delegates to the Republican convention.
The US Virgin Islands did not seem to me like it would be friendly territory for Donald Trump. The first bit of data regarding how the Virgin Islands might be trending appeared in mid-January:
CHARLESTON, S.C.—A Republican National committeeman delivered a call-to-arms against Donald Trump during a closed-door GOP meeting on Thursday, urging his colleagues to take a forceful stand against those who he said are destroying the party’s brand.
At a breakfast at the RNC winter meeting, Holland Redfield, an RNC committeeman who represents the minority-rich Virgin Islands, rose to address party Chairman Reince Priebus. In the five-minute impromptu speech, a video recording of which Redfield provided to POLITICO, Redfield did not explicitly mention Trump’s name. But he made clear that angry voices in the party pose a grave threat to the GOP’s future, and expressed alarm at what he described as crushing pressure to play nice.
“You can argue with me, but we’re almost terrorized as members of our party. ‘Shut up. Toe the line, embrace each other, and let’s go forward.’ I understand that. But there is a limit to loyalty. I am loyal to this party by speaking out on these very issues,” he said at the private breakfast meeting.
At one point, Redfield essentially argued that those in the room have been held hostage by Trump’s threat to run as a third-party candidate if the party hierarchy treats him unfairly.
Holland Redfield (who is in the featured picture above) attracted a lot of interest from the media for his comments, even appearing briefly on Drudge Report.
When a political consultant from Michigan who has written a book about contested political conventions pops up in the Virgin Islands making a bid to become a delegate to the Republican convention — along with his wife and two of their pals — well, it gets your attention.
John Yob, the owner of Michigan-based consulting firm Strategic National and the former national political director for one-time Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), was on the ballot Thursday in the GOP caucus to be a delegate to the 2016 Republican convention from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On March 4, Caroline Fawkes, the supervisor of elections for the U.S. Virgin Islands ruled Yob, his wife Erica L. Yob, and Ethan Eilon and Lindsey Eilon ineligible to vote. All four of them were on the ballot to be delegates, but delegates must be registered Republican voters. Fawkes’ ruling compromised their eligibility to serve as delegates.
According to court documents, Yob was initially ruled ineligible to vote, according to Fawkes, after he tried to register to vote before he had lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the required 90 days. According to an email that Fawkes sent to state chairman for the Virgin Islands Republican Party, John Canegata, Yob is alleged to have purposely falsified information to gain access to the polls.
“Mr. Yob appeared at the St. John Elections Office in order to register to vote in early January. He was informed by the Elections Assistant, he has to reside in the Virgin Islands for ninety days before he can register. He informed the Elections Assistant, he arrived on the island a week before, which made him ineligible. He then took the information gained and travelled to the St. Thomas Elections offices and provided a falsified date within the parameters to meet the requirement,” Fawkes wrote in an email to the party chairman.
How on earth could the Republicans have allowed this man to stand for election? Yob’s gambit seems to have paid off, and he and his group mostly won the caucus:
All nine of the V.I. delegates selected at Thursday’s V.I. caucus are uncommitted. Serving as super delegates are GOP State Chairman John Canegata, Holland Redfield and Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal.
John Yob, one of the four candidates whose eligibility has been questioned due to residency requirements, topped the list with 131 votes.
Gwen Brady is next with 129 votes; then Warren Cole with 123. Erica Yob, wife of John Yob, is next with 123. George Logan came in fifth, with 120 votes. Lindsey Eilon, another new GOP member whose eligibility is before the courts, came in sixth. Her husband, political consultant Ethan Eilon, did not place among the winners.
It wasn’t as if Republican candidates ignored this vote. Several campaigns made pushes into the Virgin Islands and Guam, territories that send delegations to the national convention. Rafael Cruz, the pastor father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), stumped in the Virgin Islands to win over voters.
It didn’t work. The lowest vote-getter of all the uncommitted delegates, Lindsey Eilon, picked up 117 votes; the most successful Rubio delegate candidate, Valerie L.Stiles, won only 72 votes. Robert Max Schanfarber, the highest vote-getter in the Cruz slate, earned just 47 votes.
The Virgin Islands are an interesting case of delegate shenanigans and the increasingly corrupt nature of the entire Republican primary. Essentially, it seems that Yob moved the Virgin Islands specifically in order to become a delegate at the Republican Convention, in the hopes that the convention would be brokered. Anyone here seriously think he and his family won’t be hopping on the first plane back to Michigan as soon as the convention is over?
If the Republicans had any integrity, they’d throw these corrupt fraudsters out of the convention and demand the Virgin Islands send real residents and real representatives, but of course they won’t. Yob belongs in a jail cell and not living it up at the convention, accepting bribes in return for his vote. Between this, the 6,000 prisoners who voted in Puerto Rico out of 36,393 voters, and the blatant threats to overturn unfavorable election results, the Republicans have completed their metamorphosis into the Democrats.
For what it’s worth, my guess is that Cruz will get the Virgin Islands delegates’ vote at the convention (after, of course, they are offered the appropriate bribes). Redfield’s hostility to Trump at the RNC meeting makes me think it’s unlikely they will support Trump.