Dave Mistich Published

DNC Credentials Committee Dismisses Challenge To Local Officials

Capitol Dome, Capitol, Legislature

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore and three other prominent state party officials will hold onto their posts, even as pressure mounts on Biafore to resign from her position leading the state party.

While Tuesday’s meeting of the DNC credentials committee dealt with a longstanding issue — focused on the election of Biafore, the state party chair and others to the DNC last summer — the calls for Biafore to resign have mounted since a June 3 meeting of the West Virginia Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee.

During that meeting, Biafore and other members of the party adopted an Affirmative Action Plan — just ahead of a deadline imposed by the DNC. Some members of the state executive committee allege the plan was approved with no input from a committee tasked with overseeing that plan.

On Tuesday, Selina Vickers — a member of the Democratic Party from Fayetteville who made a failed bid for the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2020 — had challenged the legitimacy of four party officials. That included Biafore’s election as state party chair, Rod Snyder as vice-chair, and Elaine Harris and Pat Maroney as DNC national committee members.

“Regardless of what happens here today, we have already won,” Vickers told the DNC’s credentials committee Tuesday. “Three counties have called for the resignation of chair Biafore just in the last week.”

Since the weekend, executive committees from Wood, Greenbrier and Monongalia counties had handed Biafore a vote of no confidence. They have called for her resignation over the June 3 meeting and the dust-up over the adoption of the state’s Affirmative Action Plan.

Vickers, in her challenge, had alleged that the public notice for the elections for those positions was not done so in a prominent and effective manner. She pointed toward one newspaper and a string of emails as evidence to support her argument.

“Hardly less information could have been provided,” Vickers said, “It doesn’t even provide where to attend. This notice cannot be called an adequate and effective notice.”

Biafore contended Tuesday that she and the other three state leaders ran unopposed in the June 2020 elections for state party leadership.

“This is a challenge to the unanimous elections of four DNC members,” Biafore said. “No one ran against us.”

But Vickers argued that the minimal notice of the elections discouraged a challenge to Biafore as state party chair, a position she has held since 2016.

“If no one knows about those meetings and you only find out about it with five days’ notice, would any of you run for chair of the party?” Vickers asked.

The DNC credentials committee ultimately adopted a motion to dismiss Vickers’ challenge against Biafore, Snyder, Harris and Maroney.

In a statement following the meeting, a group of other West Virginia Democrats — including West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women Vice President Barb Scott; former legislator, mayor, and longtime Democrat activist Charlene Marshall; and Labor Council President and Rivesville City Councilman Mark Dorsey — issued a statement that backed Biafore and the others who Vickers had challenged.

“We’d like to thank the DNC credentials committee for the fair and transparent way in which they’ve heard this challenge, and for making the right call in confirming that Chair Biafore and the three other officers should maintain their credentials with the DNC,” the group said. “We’ve seen firsthand her leadership of this party, and we know the vast majority of West Virginia Democrats are behind her in her effort to make this party stronger, more inclusive, and truly representative of all West Virginians.”

Amid other swirling controversies — including the adoption of the Affirmative Action Plan and other efforts for diversity — Biafore has said she hopes to build on that into the future. She maintains it will include the newly seated committee tasked with overseeing its implementation.

“I won’t deny that our party is less diverse than what we would like,” Biafore said Tuesday. “Our party has engaged in numerous outreach programs.”