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The party's over for GOP Web site

December 23, 2000

The party's over for GOP Web site



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Republican Journal, a Web site run by a former county native who was not shy about expressing his views of local politics, has sent its final e-mail.

In many respects, the Web site run by Dwight D. Weidman operated as a gossip page, offering such tidbits as which county politicos were switching parties, how they were taking political defeats and giving the rundown on political forums.

But the Web site was sharply critical, too, tossing barbs at local media for the way they covered issues and even finding fault with the Republican Party.

The Web site accused the party of not strongly supporting candidates in recent elections and criticized a Republican newsletter for making candidates pay for campaign ads.

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In his farewell e-mail dated Dec. 11, Weidman said the Berkeley County Republican Party is "hopelessly split."

Weidman claims there are two factions of the party in the county, one led by Del. Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley, and one led by Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley.

Until there is an independent-minded Republican that can bring the two factions together, the party will remain "mired in its present state of mediocrity," Weidman said.

Some of his other parting thoughts in the Dec. 11 e-mail:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "Nobody should be at all surprised at Al Gore's attempt to steal the presidential election. What we're seeing now is the logistical continuation of an attempt to destroy our constitutional republic that has been going on since Bill Clinton took office in January 1993."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "The American 'mainstream' media is hopelessly liberal, biased, corrupt and incompetent."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "We are not, repeat, NOT, a democracy. America's founding fathers were wise enough to know that a democracy is one of a series of steps toward anarchy, and finally to dictatorship."

In an interview recently, Weidman said his comments may have been "a little strong."

At this point, he figures his detractors are not about to change their mind about him.

"So why not?" he said.

Jerry Mays, chairman of the Berkeley County Republican Executive Committee, said he was troubled by much of the content on the Web site, saying many times it was inaccurate.

"It had absolutely no legitimacy," said Mays, who insists the county Republican Party is strong and united.

Mays said he questioned Weidman why he was so critical about issues on the Web site, but never got an answer.

Weidman, who moved to Chambersburg, Pa., about a year ago, said in his final e-mail that he was committed to keeping the Web site open through the elections, "due to a number of requests from friends of ours in the Eastern Panhandle."

Mays said he does not know who those people are.

"It wasn't mainstream Berkeley County Republicans," Mays said.

Weidman said after he started the site, he quickly developed a number of sources he could rely on for information.

At one point, Weidman said he was getting about 2,000 hits on the Web site every month.

"My hit counter was going crazy. I developed a very large consistent readership," he said.

Weidman, 48, moved to Chambersburg so he could be closer to his job, which is acquiring software for the Department of Defense. He works at Letterkenny Army Depot.

Weidman said in his final e-mail that while he still has ties to Berkeley County, he did not believe it was appropriate to continue operating a Web site about politics where he did not reside.

Weidman claims the split in the Republican Party started in 1992, when Overington's supporters controlled the Berkeley County Republican Club and Faircloth's supporters controlled the Berkeley County Republican Executive Committee.

Weidman claims Overington's supporters took over the executive committee in 1998 and Faircloth reacted by forming the Berkeley County Republican Association.

"The sad thing is between the two, there's a lot of energy and talented people. But they can't come together. They have wasted a lot of energy with these little battles," Weidman said.

Overington said there has never been any factionalism in the executive committee or the Berkeley County Republican Club.

Overington said Mays has been very effective at uniting Republicans in the county, and that was illustrated in last month's general election by Gov. Cecil Underwood's victory in Berkeley County, U.S. Rep.-elect Shelley Moore Capito's win in Berkeley County and the decision by county voters to elect two Republican magistrates.

"Dwight's journal was one person's view. Any person can start a page and do whatever they want," Overington said.

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