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The 7th District Republican Committee on Saturday upheld Steve Nixon's appeal and reinstated him as chairman of the Culpeper County Republican Committee.
However, Nixon, who was elected to his second term in late April, announced Tuesday that he plans to resign that chairmanship at the Culpeper committee's monthly meeting next week.
"I think it is best to step back from the chairmanship," Nixon said Monday. "Maybe by doing that the party can come together in a positive way to further our efforts."
Nixon, a moderate Republican, stresses that the only reason he appealed a vote to oust him as chairman was to "vindicate myself against the charges" of the more conservative members of the Culpeper committee.
Those members charged him with allowing "known Democrats" to vote at the Apr. 26 mass meeting where Nixon was re-elected and candidates for two local offices were given GOP backing.
Some conservative committee members had urged that everyone voting at the mass meeting be required to declare party affiliation and sign a loyalty pledge.
Those two stipulations, however, were ultimately defeated and were not part of the meeting's "call," which was voted on twice, appeared twice in a local newspaper and was read aloud at the mass meeting.
There were no objections voiced publicly by the more than 500 people present that night. The objections came after Nixon defeated Al Aitken by three votes.
On June 28 the conservative element of the Culpeper committee presented Nixon with a petition of no confidence that stated the members planned to vote him out, which they did on Aug. 2.
On Aug. 30, 15 days after Nixon appealed his ouster, the committee, not waiting for a district committee decision, elected Aitken as its new chairman. That action was negated by Saturday's ruling that Nixon had acted properly. Culpeper committee members have the option to appeal that ruling to the state's central committee.
"The 7th District decision was not a surprise to me but it was disappointing," Aitken said. "I believe that the [state] party plan is irrelevant as to who can participate in mass meetings."
Nick Freitas spoke against Nixon on Saturday, advising the district committee of the Culpeper committee's complaints and charging that there were "56 known Democrats" at the mass meeting.
Freitas, according to Nixon, did not make it clear how the party affiliation of those present was determined.
His status and political reputation restored, Nixon is now ready to step down as chairman--for the good of the party. But he is leaving on his own terms.
"Obviously the committee wants to go in a different direction and they feel I can't lead them there," Nixon, who stresses he will remain an active committee member, said.
Aitken agrees. "Over 75 per cent of the committee is against [Nixon]," he said. Nixon says he can't understand why his detractors would create this much party confusion a few months before a hotly contested national election.
"It doesn't make sense," he said. "I think the controversy has affected the standing of the committee in the county and has caused some longstanding members to resign."
Nixon also points out that six out of the seven members of the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors--including himself--and three out of the five constitutional officers are Republicans.
"We must have been doing a pretty good job," he says of his party and his leadership.
Aitken says that even after Nixon resigns, the 7th District Committee cannot reinstate Aitken.
"There'll have to be another election, either at a special called meeting or at the October committee meeting," he said.
Until then, Vice Chairman Dewey McDonald, who led the committee between Nixon's ouster and Aitken's election, will be Culpeper's No. 1 man again.