RNC-Run Virgin Islands Republican Caucus Going Forward, Despite Suppression Efforts

RNC-Run Virgin Islands Republican Caucus Going Forward, Despite Suppression Efforts

A territorial caucus on March 29 to reorganize the Republican Party in the U.S. Virgin Islands is going ahead as planned, according to sources with knowledge of the caucus.

The caucus, which was first reported by the Virgin Islands Free Press, is being administered by lawyers from the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

It follows a 2020 ruling by the Republican National Committee to cease recognition of its V.I. affiliate, which had been led by St. Croix’s John Canegata.

Despite having agreed in January to the rules and framework being used by the Republican National Committee to conduct this month’s caucus, Canegata has been working behind the scenes to scuttle the caucus by getting the Democrat-controlled V.I. Board of Elections to refuse recognition of the caucus results. Canegata would rather compete in the August primary election.

Canegata is opposed in the caucus by Gordon Ackley of St. Thomas.

“It hasn’t been easy being a Republican in the Virgin Islands in recent years as our party ceased to exist with no leadership, no ideas, and no candidates,” Ackley said by email. “The caucus will have the effect of wiping the slate clean and starting anew.”

Also running with Ackley are Jevon O.A. Williams for reelection as national committeeman, Antoinette Gumbs-Hecht for election as national committeewoman, and a full slate of 20 candidates for the State (Territorial) Committee.

“I believe the Virgin Islands are still worth fighting for,” Williams said. “I want Republicans to stand up and make their voices heard on the issues and challenges facing our territory.”

Registered Republican voters can cast an in-person ballot between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. March 29 at the Company House Hotel in Christiansted, Bluebeard’s Castle on St. Thomas and American Legion Post 131 on St. John.

Under Canegata, who assumed the territorial party chairmanship in 2014 after defeating the now-deceased Herb Schoenbohm, Republicans became an endangered species with virtually no candidates nominated for any major office.

While Democrats have long been the majority party, the U.S. Virgin Islands has elected Republicans. It wasn’t that long ago when there were Republican senators in the Legislature to form a minority caucus.

Today, the V.I. Legislature is the only partisan-elected state or territorial legislature in the country without Republican members. The territorial party under Canegata also had the distinction of being the only state or territorial GOP not to run candidates for governor or Congress in the immediate past elections.

As embarrassing as those stats are it gets far worse for Canegata.

An audit of the territorial party’s finances, which was conducted pursuant to a ruling from the Republican National Committee and 2020 Republican National Convention, found that a scam PAC operated by Canegata raised over $10 million using the party’s name. But instead of spending that money on getting Republicans elected in the Virgin Islands, Canegata and Washington-based consultants spent the money on themselves.

The Republican National Committee has posted information and resources for voters on a website for the caucus.