CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Republicans in the U.S. Virgin Islands are rebuilding their party after years of inactivity.
The first step is a caucus in March administered by lawyers from the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.
The caucus will elect new leaders after the Republican National Committee decided in 2020 that John Canegata was not the lawful and legitimate chairman of the national GOP’s affiliate for a host of reasons, including fraudulent party elections, corruption and malfeasance.
As part of that decision, all but two members of the Virgin Islands delegation to the 2020 Republican National Convention that nominated President Donald Trump for re-election were stripped of their credentials. The only Virgin Islanders recognized as legitimate delegates were then-National Committeeman Jevon O.A. Williams and then-National Committeewoman Lilliana Belardo O’Neal who had so-called superdelegate status.
The RNC attempted to implement its decision over the past two years, but Canegata and his Democrat allies who control the Virgin Islands Board of Elections refused to recognize the RNC’s authority. After threats of litigation, Canegata complied and agreed to recognize the outcome of the RNC-administered caucus.
Canegata is expected to run again, alongside Belardo de O’Neal for national committeewoman and Max Schanfarber for national committeeman.
Gordon Ackley of St. Thomas announced this weekend that he will run against Canegata for chairman. Running with Ackley are Williams of St. Croix for re-election as national committeeman and Antoinette
Gumbs-Hecht of St. Thomas for national committeewoman against Belardo de O’Neal.
Republicans in the Virgin Islands have been decimated since Canegata ousted the deceased Herb Schoenbohm in 2014.
Canegata later expelled Schoenbohm and also-deceased Holland Redfield, the party’s long-time national committeeman until 2016.
In the intervening years, Canegata’s party failed to run candidates for Congress in 2018, 2020 and now 2022. Similarly, Canegata also failed to run a candidate for governor in 2018 and it’s unlikely a Republican will run in this year’s general election.
Canegata has also embarrassed Republicans across the country with a scam political action committee that preys upon unsuspecting donors with claims of supporting Republican candidates on the mainland.
The PAC, called the VIGOP, has raised and spent over $10 million — enough to buy every senator’s seat in the Virgin Islands Legislature — with most of the money going to Canegata, Schanfarber, and D.C.-area consultants.