The Virginia GOP is a Mess
The Republican Party of Virginia was once a gold standard of GOP institutions. Now, it's not.
The Republican Party of Virginia continues its descent into disorganized madness.
Virginia law gives the parties great leeway in determining how to select their party nominees. Virginia Republicans have often vacillated between a primary election and a state party convention, depending on who is running the show. Both of those options were still on the table, as well as a “firehouse primary” which is a type of canvass involving one location established for each of Virginia’s counties and independent cities.
The RPV has already decided on a convention four times before this week, but the matter was not settled due to opposition from pro-Trump elements of the party.
Further complicating matters is the difficulty in holding a convention during the time of COVID. Republican conventions in Virginia are often very well attended affairs, attracting thousands of
Bearing Drift has been providing coverage of all of this.
After months of disagreement, the Virginia Republican Party’s governing body agreed Tuesday night on a method to nominate statewide candidates for the November election. They’ll hold a drive-up convention May 8 on the campus of Liberty University.
The decision followed feuds among members of the party’s State Central Committee, who had opted for a convention to nominate candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. But such a gathering would be illegal under Virginia’s COVID-19 rules.
Republicans spent months unable to reach agreement until Tuesday night.
The convention at Liberty, the Christian university well known for its affiliations with conservative causes, is to be held at 9 a.m. Republicans said convention delegates will be able to stay in their cars the entire time, possibly listening to proceedings on a radio broadcast.
They plan to use ranked-choice voting, so delegates would fill out one ballot and list their choices.
Yes. A drive-in convention. Republicans from around Virginia will drive to Lynchburg, hand out in their car and….leave.
Is Joe Bob Briggs available?
Of course, because the Republican Party of Virginia just can’t get out of its own way, Liberty University says there isn’t a deal in place yet to host the convention the RPV just awarded them yeseterday.
There’s a lot of background noise on all of this. State Senator Amanda Chase, the Trumpiest candidate for Governor in the field, filed suit against the RPV trying to stop a convention and spun a weird conspiracy theory that the party itself was going to choose the nominee. Chase this morning said the convention was illegal and is threatening to run as an independent if the Central Committee chooses the nominee.
The thinking is that a convention hurts Trumpy candidates like Chase by putting the decision into the hands of active Republicans instead of Republican primary voters.
It’s a pretty weird twist in thinking after the previous years. Corey Stewart won the Republican primary in 2018 for U.S. Senate by being the Trumpiest candidate in the field. In the past, non-Trump Republicans had preferred primaries because it avoided debacles like the 2013 Convention, where more activist elements got E.W. Jackson nominated for Lt. Governor.
Both Jackson and Stewart went down in flames in their respective races.
Part of the problem is that the RPV does not have a set way of picking their nominees and sticking to it. It seems like the RPV changes its tune every so often as to how they want to select their candidates. Choosing a convention barely two months before that convention is going to start is an incredibly odd way to run a political party, regardless of the reason for who it benefits.
But unfortunately, it’s just another in a series of missteps by the Republican Party of Virginia, which has been plagued by the State Party Chairman calling Richmond a “ghetto”, the National Committeewoman suggesting Trump’s impeachment was more of a show trial than the Nuremberg Trials, and Chase praised those who participated in the January 6th coup d’etat attempt at the Capitol.
I have said this multiple times the past few years, but I never thought I would live to see the day where the Maryland Republican Party was a better organized political operation than the RPV. But the MDGOP has been outperforming the RPV for some time now.
For years, Virginia was a pretty red state. It flirted with Democrats at the top of the ballot from time to time, but Republicans usually had control of at least the General Assembly. The descent from red state to purple state to blue state happened quickly. If the Republican Party of Virginia is going to have to get its house in order. Electing new leadership would be a good start, and picking a method of candidate selection and sticking to it would help (though may not matter soon).