Wood County Republicans vote Conley in as chairman

PARKERSBURG — The acting chairman of the Wood County Republican Party Executive Committee was elected Tuesday to serve the unexpired term of the chairman who was removed by the head of the state GOP.

Roger Conley in June was appointed to the executive committee and made acting chairman by West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter, who removed Rob Cornelius as chairman and from the executive committee because of comments he made concerning her and Gov. Jim Justice.

Cornelius appealed the decision by Potter to the state executive committee, which upheld the action to remove him. He has notified Secretary of State Mac Warner that he intends to file suit challenging his removal.

The Wood County executive committee assembled Tuesday night for its regularly scheduled meeting and elected Conley as chairman to serve the remainder of the term, which expires in 2022. The vote was 13 in favor, one no and two abstentions, Conley said.

“(The meeting) went very smoothly,” Conley said. “It was very well attended.”

Potter also attended the meeting, held at the Judge Black Annex on Market Street, along with a registered parliamentarian, Conley said.

Cornelius on Wednesday continued to refer to himself as chairman of the executive committee.

“It’s a pleasure to serve as Wood County Republican Chairman, and I look forward to winning elections with conservatives here for the rest of my term,” he said.

“We look forward to handling this matter appropriately in circuit court with our secretary of state and ensuring that our party remains in the hands of honorable people, not Conley or the disgraced Melody Potter or the deadbeat Jim Justice,” Cornelius said in a statement.

The statement on Wednesday also said: “It’s was four years ago last week that Roger Conley lied to this community about being the acting chairman of the Wood County Republican Party. Unsurprisingly, after last night’s illegal meeting and improper votes with members hand-chosen by people outside Wood County, he’s lying again.”

The committee was in turmoil four years ago when Conley and other members of the executive committee voted to remove him as chairman over actions and comments made during the effort to remove embattled Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell, a Democrat who resigned to retire on the eve of a hearing to determine whether he could remain in office. The state party under then-Chairman Conrad Lucas continued to recognize Cornelius as chairman, and a party arbitration board declared the meeting in which he was voted out invalid.

“The same fake Republicans who stood with humiliated Democrat Bob Newell in 2015 want to steal this committee and its checkbook, much as they tried and failed then. Elections have consequences, and these sad people respect neither your marked ballot, nor Wood County voters,” Cornelius said. “They are wrong, and the duly elected and appointed members of this Republican committee will prevail.”

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.