Republican JCC Supervisor Hipple denied admittance to Republican Committee

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JCC Supervisor Michael Hipple. (File photo)
JCC Powhatan Supervisor Michael Hipple. (File photo)

After a Wednesday night vote, career Republican and James City County Supervisor Michael Hipple was denied admittance to the county’s Republican Committee.

“I was voted out not because I disagreed with the Republican philosophy, but because I disagreed with a few people,” Hipple said. “It was a personal thing from the leadership from the local party.”

Hipple has been a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, representing the Powhatan District, since 2013 and served as chairman in 2015 and 2016. He is up for reelection in November.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the James City County Republican Party donated $5,125 toward Hipple’s 2013 race for Board of Supervisors.

“I’ve got people that I know will contribute and I don’t need a lot of money,” Hipple said of plans to fundraise for his upcoming campaign. “People know me. I go from house to house and that doesn’t cost me any money. A smear campaign costs a lot of money. A clean campaign doesn’t cost as much.”

Hipple said his membership with the county’s Republican Committee expired and he applied for membership again in October, but his application was tabled.

“I thought membership was automatically renewed and it wasn’t,” said Hipple. “Technically [the Republican Committee] sent out what they should have. I didn’t understand that at that time. I missed it. I can’t blame that part on them…Nobody called and told me. You’d think as a sitting chair they’d call you and say, ‘Hey dude, you need to fill this out.’”

Republican Committee Chairman Chris Henderson said that Hipple’s application was denied because of Hipple’s behavior during previous Board elections and his voting history while on the Board.

“Michael Hipple’s application for membership was discussed and a vote was taken, and the membership elected to reject his application for membership to the committee,” said Henderson.  “That action was based upon Mr. Hipple’s violation of the party plan and James City County bylaws, his vote for the largest tax increase in James City County history and his vote to reinstitute staggered terms.”

Hipple voted for staggered elections for Board members, which passed in September. When asked for comment on the vote, Hipple said, “I have to look at my stuff, but I don’t think I ran on that. I know I said I would entertain going from staggered terms to simultaneous terms.”

Hipple also took exception to criticism of his vote to raise taxes.

“Voting for the tax increase we have not had in 20 years allowed us the opportunity to get a triple bond rating and put James City County back on a financially stable foundation,” Hipple said.  “Yes, I voted on that and yes, it put us in a more stable position and yes, I’d vote that way again.”

JCC Administrator Bryan Hill said that the financial year 2015 tax increase came to $20 per month on a $300,000 home.

According to Henderson, Former Republican Committee chair Amanda Batten said in the meeting that Hipple applied for — and was admitted to — the Republican Committee in 2013, before being elected to the Board of Supervisors.

“Despite the fact that Mr. Hipple was a brand new committee member, the JCCRC provided strong support—both financially and with volunteer efforts—for his campaign,” said Batten.  “To the dismay of JCCRC members, Mr. Hipple ceased attending committee meetings immediately upon being elected to office. He subsequently declined to renew his membership.”

Batten also alleged that Hipple opposed the 2015 Republican candidates for the Board of Supervisors, Heather Cordasco and Sue Sadler.

“Instead, Mr. Hipple publicly supported Democratic and Independent candidates,” Batten added. “All JCCRC members are held to the same high standard of steadfast support for our Republican nominees.”

Hipple said he never formally endorsed the Republican opposition, John McGlennon and Jim Kennedy, in their respective races against Cordasco and Sadler, but instead said he wished his fellow incumbent board members well when speaking to a reporter after a board meeting.

“I said I’d hope they’re reelected,” said Hipple. “I’m a chairman [at the time] and I have to protect my board. If they’re doing a good job, I want to protect them.”

Hipple admitted to missing some committee meetings, but said his family, business and Board of Supervisor duties took precedence.

“JCCRC members acted in good faith to support Mr. Hipple in 2013,” continued Batten. “His betrayal of this trust and of his signed pledge is dishonorable and renders him unfit for membership in this committee.”

Hipple said that he has been honest with the JCCRC about his intentions from the beginning.

“I told them from day one, I am not one of your foot soldiers,” said Hipple. “I have a mind, I have an opinion.”

Hipple said that he is and will remain a Republican and plans to run for reelection for his seat on the Board — with or without JCCRC support.

“I’m a Republican,” Hipple said. “I’m always going to be a Republican.”