A majority of one of two warring U.S. Virgin Islands delegations, each planning to attend the Republican National Convention representing the territory, has endorsed real estate developer, heir and reality TV star Donald Trump for the party’s presidential nomination.
“Virgin Islanders look forward to joining fellow Republicans from across the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the four other territories in unifying to defeat the Democrats in November,” embattled V.I. GOP Chairman John Canegata said in a statement Sunday. Canegata chairs one of the two competing slates of delegates, both of whom claim to be the sole official and properly seated delegates.
The V.I. GOP’s 2016 delegate selection process has seen lawsuits, allegations of assault, members being called "Nazi sympathizer" and "convict," references to "gestapo tactics," press conferences featuring polygraph tests and an influx of new V.I. residents who happen to be long-time stateside GOP political operatives. (See Related Links below)
In Sunday’s statement, Canegata said “Our delegates may have supported other candidates in the Virgin Islands caucus, but we are now behind Donald Trump.”
Canegata says in the statement that this Trump endorsement is "a repudiation of Holland Redfield, the Virgin Islands committeeman on the Republican National Committee. Canegata was referring to leaked video of Redfield, posted by Politico, condemning Trump during a closed-door national GOP meeting.
Redfield, a former V.I. senator, local radio host and long-time V.I. Republican Party official, spoke out against what he saw as racially divisive rhetoric in the party at a closed door GOP meeting in the states. Redfield is allied with the slate of delegates initially elected at the V.I. GOP’s March 10 caucus.
Canegata issued a statement after that contested caucus saying he was disqualifying the original six winners because they failed to give notice of their intent to attend within five days of winning, as required under local party rules. Other members argue the clock for notification had not started yet, and Canegata’s disqualification was out of order. Since then the party appears to have completely split in two. Two factions of the party have each issued notices announcing the V.I. GOP territorial convention, on different dates (See Related Links below) and both factions vehemently insist their actions are the official party actions and the other faction’s actions are not valid.