Republican Party Chairman John Canegata says he’s not backing down on the disqualification of the entire slate of delegates elected in a March 10 caucus.

Canegata issued a memorandum Wednesday citing local GOP party rules as a basis for replacing John Yob and other delegates with alternates.

But Yob says Canegata is out of line and he fully intends to represent the Virgin Islands at the Republican National Convention.

The battle over who has rightfully earned a delegate spot has been brewing since the caucus, when Yob, his wife, Erica Yob, and family friend Lindsey Eilon won delegate seats along with three others.

Yob is a long-time political strategist from Michigan who recently moved to St. John and was the highest vote-getter in the delegate caucus.

But he, his wife, and Eilon were allowed to participate in the caucus only after he filed a lawsuit against Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, who had disqualified them as electors in the territory because she said they hadn’t met the 90-day residence requirement.

Yob’s lawsuit also accused Republican Committeewoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal of using Fawkes to have the group removed from voter rolls so her husband, Humberto de O’Neal, would have a better chance at a delegate seat.

A last-minute temporary restraining order issued on the morning of the caucus kept the Yobs and Eilon on the voter rolls and allowed them to be on the ballot as delegate candidates, and Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay issued a preliminary injunction on March 22 declaring the 90-day waiting period invalid.

That case is ongoing and Edward Barry, lawyer for intervenor Valerie Stiles, who was elected as an alternate delegate, has said he will argue that the Yobs and Eilon are not bona fide residents of the territory and are therefore ineligible to register to vote and run for office.

Yob has said that he closed on a home in November and has enrolled his children in school on St. John and intends to make the island his permanent home.

However, Canegata said that Yob and the five other elected delegates failed to follow party rules and respond in writing with a commitment to attend the national convention and therefore are disqualified.

Yob has said that Canegata’s actions are premature, because the election has not yet been certified.

But Canegata doubled down on his commitment to replace the slate of delegates with the next six highest vote-getters in a memorandum issued Wednesday.

“By now, you have heard and read about the attempt by some newcomers to our party to undermine the well-established processes spelled out in the rules that govern the Virgin Islands caucus,” Canegata said in the memorandum.

“What is happening is unfortunate. Truly unfortunate,” Canegata wrote. “As chairman, I have tried my best to stay above the fray by remaining neutral — not picking sides, but acting as a disinterested umpire.”

In the memorandum, Canegata said that as chairman, he is tasked with enforcing party rules, which compelled him to disqualify the slate. He also said the caucus was in fact certified, and elected delegates were properly notified.

He also addressed accusations that he filed fraudulent documents to the Republican National Committee in September. Canegata said the Territorial Committee took action by email to approve the 2016 caucus rules, but several members called the RNC and said the rules were void because the group hadn’t physically met in person so they instead used the approved 2012 caucus rules.

“Unfortunately, a few voices objected and caused a controversy where a controversy need not exist,” Canegata wrote. “These same voices are now cooperating with John Yob and a couple of other newcomers to circumvent the well-established process spelled out in the rules, which we have operated under for over four years. That’s ironic because I don’t know John Yob well at all. I haven’t said one thing bad about him. I wish him well. I just wish we could all work together.”

Canegata said Thursday that the new slate of delegates is final and Yob will not be attending the national convention.

“We’re still cleaning up our paperwork and finalizing everything,” Canegata said “Our decision is done.”

Canegata and Yob also have begun airing attack ads on local radio against each other.

“I’ll take the shots on behalf of the party,” Canegata said.

He called Yob a “Johnny Come Lately from Michigan” and said that, “he’s been slapped up a few times.”

Canegata cited an incident this fall when Rich Beeson, deputy campaign manager for Marco Rubio, struck Yob at the GOP Mackinac Conference, and the party chairman also is publicly talking about Erica Yob’s arrests for domestic violence against her husband.

Erica Yob pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge nearly a year ago as part of a diversionary program that required her to seek counseling and wear an alcohol monitoring device, according to Michigan news reports.

Yob, who has worked on the campaigns of such Republican presidential candidates as John McCain, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, dismissed Canegata’s remarks.

“I would urge Mr. Canegata to keep his desperate attacks against me on the issues rather than make personal attacks on my family,” Yob wrote in an email.

He said Canegata “continues to embarrass the Virgin Islands,” and said the party chairman falsified the documents submitted to the Republican National Committee in September and has run the local party into $350,000 in debt.

Canegata is, “now attempting to violate rules yet again after his preferred delegates lost overwhelmingly,” Yob wrote. “I remain very confident that ultimately rules will be followed and that the six delegates who received the most votes at the caucus will be seated at the national convention.”

Party Vice Chairman Herb Schoenbohm, who filed an affidavit as part of Yob’s lawsuit saying that Belardo de O’Neal told him she intended to get Yob’s group removed as delegate candidates, said Thursday that Canegata does not have the authority to disqualify delegates.

“He continues to do things on his own, by himself and for himself,” Schoenbohm said.

Schoenbohm also said Yob is a seasoned political professional who could be an asset to the Republican party in the territory, and Canegata should respect the will of the voters who overwhelmingly supported Yob for the delegate seat.

— Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email