Jeff Frederick won't give up. Ousted as chairman of the state Republican Party last month, he may seek the post again at the party convention May 30, raising the specter of intraparty chaos in a crucial election year.
Frederick was accused of misspending funds and repeatedly embarrassing the party. At one point, he compared Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. Earlier this year, his premature Twitter about a party switch may have cost Republicans control of the state Senate.
In response, nearly every leading GOP officeholder in Virginia called for Frederick's resignation, arguing that his presence might hurt Bob McDonnell, the party's gubernatorial hope in this fall's election. When Frederick refused, the state central committee removed him. But by then he had become something of a hero among conservative activists. His fight reflects a nationwide argument within the GOP about whether to pursue a new and more moderate approach, as McDonnell seems to prefer, or a return to unyielding conservative principles.
The question is whether enough of Frederick's conservative fans will show up at the state convention to give him his job back, overruling the central committee. Few thought he could win it last year against a former lieutenant governor, but he did; he could surprise people again.