Local GOP accuses ex-member of deserting candidate

Ralph Rinaldi

A former Warren County Republican broke a promise by challenging a rival for a supervisor’s seat, party officials say.

Ralph Rinaldi announced earlier this month that he had started a campaign to run as an independent candidate for the Shenandoah District seat on the Board of Supervisors. Rinaldi narrowly lost a bid for the Warren County Republican Committee’s nomination to Thomas Sayre at a convention held last month.

Rinaldi and Sayre sought the committee’s nomination to run for the seat held by Supervisor Richard Traczyk, who does not plan to run for re-election in November.

Rather than endorse Sayre for the seat, Rinaldi chose to move forward without the party’s support.

Steve Kurtz, chairman of the committee, said Thursday that Rinaldi violated the agreement that members make to support nominees.

“When we admit members to the committee … that’s one of the requirements is that they support all the Republican nominees,” Kurtz said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Rinaldi wouldn’t comment on the claim except to say that he knew of no document he would have signed to make the agreement.

Shenandoah District Chairwoman Dr. Mary Kay Clark has made claims that Rinaldi broke a verbal promise to back whomever the committee nominates.

“She can claim anything she wants,” Rinaldi said. “I have a lot of respect for Dr. Clark … I have no comment as to her opinion.”

The chairman cited the Republican Party of Virginia’s Plan of Organization, particularly the first section on qualifications, which states that “[a]ll legal and qualified voters under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, and who, if requested, express in 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 may participate as members of the Republican Party of Virginia …”

The section goes on to state that a voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four years.

Rinaldi submitted a resignation to the committee before he announced his intentions to run as an independent, Kurtz said.

“If he did not resign, he would have been removed,” Kurtz noted. “He broke that promise, that’s correct, and now he’s no longer a member of the committee.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com