Saturday it was announced that the Republican Party of Virginia has abandoned their proposed plans to have Republican voters sign a loyalty pledge. The original plan, of having Republican voters sign a loyalty pledge was, designed in December, 2015. The plan was that every Republican voter would have to sign, a GOP document saying “I am a Republican.” That principle was challenge by many, including the Donald Trump campaign for President, that it was unconstitutional and unlawful. This marks the third consecutive presidential election in which state GOP officials have approved a type of oath or pledge, only to rescind it before the state’s presidential primary.
Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax City, said of the pledge, “Having a loyalty oath was a bad idea from the beginning,” Petersen said in a statement Saturday. Petersen said he will now strike the emergency clause in his bill due to the Republicans’ decision to change course.” He also stated that new emergency legislation would prohibit a political party that is holding a presidential primary from requiring voters to sign any pledge in order to vote in the primary. This turn around on the need of a loyalty pledge had been a bone of contention within many of the Republican party but none more vocal than the Donald Trump campaign.
Corey Stewart, chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign, said of the turn around, “We’re delighted.” Continuing he said that” It shows that the State Central Committee listened to the Trump campaign and others who were concerned that it was chasing new voters out of the party.” Trump himself, had said of the pledge that it would have turned away independents and first time voters. Black ministers also argued that the pledge would disproportionately hurt minority voters. Now the Republicans behind the idea are finger pointing across the aisle that the Democrats the real reason the measure had to be reversed. The party’s official statement Saturday did not frame the reversal as the result of an intraparty dispute, but instead blamed Democrats in the executive branch, who the GOP said implemented the oath in a way “designed to confuse voters.”
Whoever is to blame for the how the loyalty pledge, it has one clear winner, Donald Trump, Republican Candidate for President. Although exact numbers have not been released, many disenchanted voters have been swayed to register to vote to have the ability to vote for Trump. The State Central Committee’s move gives Trump supporters what they were asking for. There could be a problem for some though as the state Board of Elections has already printed at least some ballots. “They’ve already printed the absentee ballots,” said Corey A. Stewart, R-At Large, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and of Trump’s Virginia campaign.
Donald Trump has called plan of the loyalty pledge, suicidal mistake” that would turn away voters who maybe new voter who could have been drawn to this unconventional presidential election of outsiders and new political faces. Senator J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, (D-Fairfax,) has introduced legislation this year to ban loyalty oaths for both parties. “Having a loyalty oath was a bad idea from the beginning,” he said. “This is a bipartisan problem.”