Phillips to Run for Council Despite GOP Objections - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Phillips to Run for Council Despite GOP Objections

GEORGETOWN, De. - There is a conflict in the Sussex County Republican Party, in regards to the 5th District seat on the county council. John Rieley, the chairman of the County GOP, wrote an email this week to incumbent Vance Phillips, urging him not to run in this year's race. Phillips, a 16 year veteran of the council, told WBOC he will not be heeding this advice.  He said he plans to run, despite objections.

Phillips is facing a civil lawsuit filed by a woman accusing him of various acts of sexual misconduct including rape. Phillips has said the claim is false, and said he will not let the accusation end his political career. 

In the letter, Rieley wrote the committee thought it best for the party if he did not run.

"It was the unanimous vote of the RD chairs that they would request that you reconsider your candidacy for the 5th Council seat," Rieley said in the email. "And seriously consider not running."

Later in the e-mail, he wrote that the lawsuit which is set to be heard in February, 2015 would be an "ugly political battle" that would hurt the Sussex County Republican party.

In a response to the email from GOP leader John Rieley, Phillips wrote "nuts," implying that he would continue running as planned.

"The RD Chairs want me to reconsider," Phillips told WBOC. "It took me about a nano-second to reconsider. And so of course I'll be running."

Phillips has maintained in multiple interviews with WBOC that he believes he'll be adjudicated of all crimes. However Duke Brooks, an official from the County GOP said that the perception that he is guilty is enough. 

"You can't unring a bell," he said. "Everyone is aware that Vance has these legal issues. It's been in the paper, it's been everywhere. People talk about it. There's nothing you can do to contain or control something like that." 

For that reason, he said it's for the good of the party that he leaves the race. He said Republicans can lose the majority in the county council this year if they lose the seats for district four and five, and so this adds an extra level of caution. 

"A person who has this sort of issue really needs to look at the larger picture," he said. "And if this causes the fifth councilman seat to be in play, I don't think that would be good for the community."

WBOC asked Phillips if this lawsuit makes him "unelectable."

"Of course not," he said. "I'm getting so many people saying 'what happened to innocent until proven guilty?' And if you read the charges, I think anyone who knows me understands that they're pretty out there."

For Phillips' seat, there have already been three challengers, two from the Democratic Party and one from the Republican Party.

For details on the race, visit WBOC's breakdown at

Primary elections will be held on September 9 and the polls will open for the general election on November 4.
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