Fighting intensifies in USVI over Republican delegates

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 8:07 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A fight among Republicans in the U.S. Virgin Islands is intensifying over which delegates will be sent to the upcoming national convention.

The U.S. territory's Republican Party announced Tuesday that it was disqualifying the six delegates chosen earlier this month because they violated party rules.

Six alternate delegates have been chosen. Four of them are uncommitted, one supports Sen. Ted Cruz and the other backs Donald Trump. None of the disqualified delegates had said whether they supported a specific candidate.

Among the candidates disqualified was John Yob, a political strategist who wrote a book titled "Chaos: The Outsider's Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention."

"I admire this gentleman," said John Canegata, the island's GOP party chairman. "He executes exactly what he talks about. ... I'm sure he can challenge anything, but basically it's our final ruling."

Canegata said in a phone interview that the six were disqualified because they did not comply with a rule saying delegates have five days to confirm in writing that they accept election and are willing and able to attend the convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

"It's an unfortunate situation," he said. "We have a more important matter at hand. We're trying to elect a conservative Republican to the White House."

In a separate matter involving Yob, a U.S. Virgin Islands court issued a partial ruling Tuesday on whether the Michigan native qualifies as a resident of the U.S. territory. The ruling responded to a lawsuit filed nearly two weeks ago by alternate delegate Valerie Morrow-Stiles, who said in a phone interview that she felt the delegates were not legal residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands at the time.

Yob said in a Facebook posting late Tuesday that he was pleased the judge agreed there is no 90-day residency requirement.

Attorney Edward Barry, who represents Morrow-Stiles, said the case against Yob continues. He said the court in upcoming weeks will determine whether Yob, his wife and other Republican strategists elected as delegates are really residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Yob criticized Canegata for disqualifying him. "The response of the USVI GOP chairman was to act like a dictator, break the USVI GOP rules, and try to select his own delegates," Yob said.

Yob is from Michigan and once worked for Sen. Rand Paul. He became well-known last year after he accused a campaign staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio of punching him. No charges were filed in that case.

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Danica Coto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danicacoto