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Virginia ‘Never Trumpers’: Where are they now?

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- During the last Republican National Convention, a group of Virginia GOP delegates led a movement opposing then-candidate Donald Trump. There was a federal lawsuit filed, and even a rebellion on the convention floor in Cleveland, pushed by those who wanted to see a different Republican presidential nominee, like Ted Cruz.

In 2016, a rules fight erupted on the RNC floor. One of the ringleaders was former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who now works for the Trump administration in the Department of Homeland Security.

Cuccinelli did not make time for an interview on this story.

“Ken is one of Trump’s most fervent supporters,” said Beau Correll, who was a Virginia RNC delegate in 2016. “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

Correll stood by Cuccinelli’s side during that revolt four years ago. In one unforgettable moment, Cuccinelli even threw his credentials down at the RNC.

Correll, a lifelong Republican from Winchester, ikes many of Trump’s policies, but says his presidency is too chaotic. He’s not sure he can vote for Trump in November.

“It’s really changed the shape of the Republican Party,” said Correll, on Trump’s influence over the GOP. “We’re getting away from our values.”

Tucker Martin worked as the communications director for Virginia’s last GOP Governor, Bob McDonnell. After spending most of his career as a Republican political operative, 2020 is the first year he’ll be voting democratic.

“I will be voting for Joe Biden,” said Martin. “I’m not a Democrat. I probably disagree with him on a number of policies. But I feel like the country needs a reset,” he added.

The RNC says these voters are outliers. A recent Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) poll says 81% of Virginia Republican voters plan to back Trump in November.

“There were members of our party of course that were a little bit skeptical because he’s a New Yorker, he’s an outsider,” said RNC spokeswoman Liz Harrington.

But since 2016, Harrington says party unity is rock-solid and Trump is delivering strong results for Americans.

“President Trump was a disrupter but once he got the nomination, and once he did, and he’s really brought this party together,” said Harrington.

The latest polls show Biden beating Trump in Virginia.

A VCU poll from July also estimates that 39 percent of likely Virginia voters say they will vote for Trump. In 2016, Virginia was the only Southern state that did not go red in the presidential election.

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