Republicans take a regional vote, censure Marsden for withdrawal

Published 8:28 pm Sunday, June 25, 2023

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The problem wasn’t that Farmville attorney John Marsden withdrew from the 50th District Virginia House Republican primary, which included Charlotte County. It was when and why he did it, Republican officials say.

Marsden issued a statement on Monday, June 5, saying he was withdrawing, and that he couldn’t serve if elected. 

“Over the last couple of weeks, with the recent events that have happened within the Republican Party, (they) make this decision unavoidable,” Marsden said. “Also, I cannot in good conscience serve alongside certain individuals who have recently secured the Republican nomination for Delegate in their respective districts.” 

Marsden didn’t name the people he refused to serve alongside or provide any further information about who they were or why.

But by June 5, it was too late to shut down the primary. And as a result, the five counties in the 50th District ended up paying. On Saturday, June 24, a response came from a larger Republican body, as the 5th District Committee got involved. The 50th District includes the majority of Charlotte, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Prince Edward counties, along with a portion of Halifax County. The 5th District Republican Committee includes not just those five counties, but everything from Charlottesville to Pittsylvania County on the North Carolina border, covering 21 counties and three cities. 

By a unanimous vote Saturday, the 5th District Committee censured Marsden for his actions. After the vote, the group released a statement, explaining their decision.  

“Because John Marsden withdrew during the election process, his actions required the five counties located in the 50th House to spend over $50,000 in taxpayer money for the 50th House District Republican Primary, where only one candidate ran,” the committee said. “In addition to wasting taxpayer money on a primary where only one candidate ran, election officers from all five counties within the 50th House District were required to take time out of their lives to man a polling precinct on Primary Election Day as well as Early Voting. John Marsden’s actions were contrary to the Republican Party’s belief in fiscal responsibility.” 

Breaking down the numbers

According to the Republican committees and the local registrars, we have a breakdown of how much each county spent on the 50th District Virginia House Republican primary. In Charlotte County, the registrar estimated it was between $6,000 to $10,000. Lunenburg County was slightly higher than Charlotte, at an estimated $11,500. In Halifax County, the primary cost between $13,000 to $15,000, the registrar said. The most was spent in Mecklenburg County, where the primary cost between $25,000 to $28,000. Prince Edward County was the second highest, coming in at $23,000.

The 5th District Republican Committee pointed out that Marsden had previously served two terms as Chairman of the Prince Edward County Republican Committee, first from 2006 to 2010 and then from 2022 to 2023. As such, they argued, he should know better than to pull out late and stick counties with the bill. 

“Therefore be it resolved, that the Fifth Congressional District Republican Committee hereby censure John Marsden for forcing Republicans of Southside Virginia to pay for a state-run primary and wasting taxpayers’ money to conduct such primary, contrary to the principles of the Republican Party,” the group’s statement said. 

The group sent copies of the censure order to Rich Anderson, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia; along with the Secretary of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia and all county chairs within the Fifth Congressional District.  

The Herald has attempted to reach Marsden for comment, but currently has not been able to do so. 

What does censure do to Marsden? 

The question for some people is ok, what is a censure? It’s not as severe as expulsion. Marsden hasn’t been removed from the Republican Party. Instead, a censure acts as a formal statement of disapproval.