The March 13th Election for the New Republican Party Chairman

The March 13th Election for the New Republican Party Chairman

On March 13th, approximately 130 voters, members of the state executive committee of the Republican Party, will hold an internal election at the Charleston Convention Center to choose a new state party chairman. The new chairman will serve the remainder of the current four-year term, 16 more months. The position was left vacant by former Chair Melody Potter, who resigned suddenly after a troubled tenure. Potter was filling the remainder of former Chairman Conrad Lucas’ term after he resigned to run for Congress.

The Family Policy Council is proud of the generational red veterans of the WVGOP. Our organization is nonpartisan, but we are happy that the reign of the current Democratic Party is over in West Virginia.

Our hearts were tugged when we met a long-time Republican gentleman in his 90s attending a sold-out 2019 Republican dinner in deep blue Wyoming County. After seeing the record number of Republican attendees, tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, “I’m proud that I lived long enough to see this.”

But many of these Republicans are the remnants of the four-plus generations of Republican resistance who took their West Virginia beatings from the powerful Democrat machine for 83 years. And because of that hard road they lived, we sometimes refer to them as the “battered-wife” Republicans.

Many Republican voters in West Virginia voted for a slogan more than a person.

And now, even though what’s left of the blue army has been run plumb across the Maryland line, the old guard still has a hard time embracing primary controversy. In their day it was foolish to waste money on a primary and weaken a Republican candidate, when they were likely going to lose to the Democrat in the general anyway. Because of those experiences, they tend to shy away from internal party change and stick with the names they know.

They are quite reluctant to abandon the Republican icons they’ve known for years and years. Those Republican veterans just won’t believe it when they are presented with evidence that some of their legacy Republican names and office holders are almost considered Democrats by today’s conservative standards. – Allen Whitt

This election for a new Republican Party State Chairman is a milestone event.

It will be the first in state history to take place while Republicans have supermajorities in both houses and a Republican governor. The state chairman is just a volunteer position, but the executive committee’s choice will determine if the Republican head will be more of the same or will step forward and champion true conservatism.

Candidates for Republican Party Chairman

(The four candidates contrast significantly one from another.)

Mark Harris


Current Chairman, Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee

Harris is a retired U.S. Army Colonel that served as a senior flight surgeon. He is also a firefighter from Beaver, WV, and serves as a part-time minister at Memorial Baptist Church. Harris is a sought-after event speaker and delivers inspirational messages on constitutional integrity. He has the support of the majority of the 55 Republican County Chairs. He would be the fresh face going forward for the WVGOP. He would support the entire Republican Party platform, including the socially conservative bills.

The Family Policy Council recommends Harris as a candidate for chairman.


Conrad Lucas

Former Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party

As Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, Conrad oversaw the historic takeover in both chambers in the state legislature and near federal sweep by the Republican Party. When elected, Conrad was the youngest state party chair in the nation. He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from Vanderbilt, a master’s from Harvard, law degree from Tulane, and a certificate in international law at the Sorbonne. He has the support of the House speaker and the state Senate president. He ran for Congress in 2018 and finished a disappointing fourth in a crowded primary. We have worked well with Lucas in the past.

The Family Policy Council recommends Lucas as a candidate for chairman.


Roman Stauffer

Interim Chairman, WVGOP

Roman Stauffer was appointed by former Chairwoman Melody Potter to Deputy Chair against the consultation of the Family Policy Council. He has served as Acting Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party since her resignation. He only assumed the interim position on January 11, 2021.  He recently managed the re-election campaign of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. The Chamber of Commerce would find him favorable. Stauffer would not promote the faith-based policies on traditional marriage and human sexuality within the Republican Party platform.

The Family Policy Council urges a NO VOTE on Stauffer as a candidate for chairman.

Rob Cornelius

Former Wood County WV Republican Chairman

Cornelius is a sports broadcaster and a longtime Republican activist. His wife handles communications for the Republican-controlled state Senate. Cornelius was removed as Wood County Chairman by state party Chairman Melody Potter in a contentious interaction that resulted in litigation against Potter and the WVGOP. He built a reputation of courageously calling out ethical failures with elected Republican officials, and he possesses a passion that will be necessary to fight the decaying American political environment. However, he spent most of his tenure mired in controversy and is not viewed by most committee voters as a real candidate.

The Family Policy Council cannot recommend Cornelius as a candidate for chairman.