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by Jordan Green

BLOGFIGHT OF THE WEEK

An old feud between tea party activist Jeff Hyde and political power couple Nancy and Don Vaughan cropped up on Facebook late last week as a conspiracy theory that Nancy Vaughan was trying to torpedo Hyde’s candidacy for Guilford County Republican Party chair by peddling the criminal record of one of Hyde’s associates to reporters. By 4:28 p.m. on Feb. 26, Ed Cone had broken the story on his blog; on Tuesday, it was a story in the News & Record. The disclosure was set in motion when Jodi Riddleberger of Conservatives for Guilford County posted a statement on the group’s Facebook page: “It has been made clear that unless Jeff drops out of the race ‘dirt’ that was ‘dug up’ on the Riddleberger family will be leaked to the media.” She went on to identify Nancy Vaughan as the leaker. Vaughan responded in a Facebook message sent to a handful of parties, including yours truly, stating that Riddleberger “is 100 percent incorrect.” Cone weighed in on Vaughan’s Facebook thread: “The ‘dirt’ is known by just about every journalist in this area, nobody has to dig it up, and nobody has published it because Riddleberger himself is not running for office.” The dirt everyone was squirming about was a 1995 conviction for felony indecent liberties with a child by Bret Riddleberger, Jodi’s husband. Hyde himself added fuel to the controversy by stating in the Conservatives for Guilford County Facebook thread: “It is ruling-class Republicans, elitists, paranoid party people that have gotten their hands on this info and now, somehow, hope to use it to discredit a constitutional, conservative movement.” Several commenters at Cone’s blog took exception to Hyde’s follow-up: “I believe in the ‘transformative power’ of Jesus Christ. Non-Christians do not seem to understand this power.” The Conservatives for Guilford County Facebook thread was later deleted, as was an apologia for Bret Riddleberger by fellow parishioner and conservative blogger Joe Guarino. The matter pulls back the curtain on nasty infighting in the local GOP — which must hearten local Democrats as they get troops in place for 2012.

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