The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia sent the wrong message when it voted to nominate its 2013 candidates for statewide office in a convention. It also changed the rules in the middle of the game. The party previously had opted for a primary. Gubernatorial candidates already were tailoring their strategies and tactics in the context of a primary. The shift suggests an ideological indifference to protocol and reflects poorly on the candidate deemed most likely to benefit from it. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his supporters seemingly want to limit participation to the most active and most passionate. Parties ought to value their bases, but they also ought to welcome those who do not drink from partisan cups. The abandonment of the primary and the embrace of the convention reflect a stridency that by all rights should hurt factionalists at the polls.Meanwhile, conservative Virginia blogger Ken Falkenstein posted on Facebook his disappointment at the reversed vote causing the disenfranchisement of thousands of Commonwealth Republicans:
Virginia Democrats likely will nominate a ticket headed by Terry McAuliffe (or Mark Warner). Their team will be led by a candidate few Virginians will consider threatening to the commonwealth. Republican efforts to depict the 2103 gubernatorial election as an end-times battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness will not work, and should not. Democrats will portray the Republican ticket as ideological extremists, regardless of the specific nominees. A GOP convention could play into their hands.
The decision by the Virginia Republican State Central Committee to reverse its prior decision to have a primary in 2013 and instead nominate our statewide candidate at a convention has left me and thousands of other Virginians disenfranchised. I cannot justify to my firm taking time off from work to attend a political convention, and I also cannot abandon my wife to take care of our 3 young boys (including one with severe special needs) by herself. So, since the State Central Committee decided that putting our nomination process in the hands of the Tea Party was more important than seeking the will of Republicans across the Commonwealth, I will have no say in that election. And when that convention blindly nominates the furthest right candidates regardless of their electability, the happiest man in Virginia will be Terry McAuliffe.A letter to the editor in Sunday's Times-Dispatch titled, "The Republican Party is out of touch," confirmed what Falkenstein wrote. Letter-writer James McGuire wrote:
I was extremely disappointed to read that the Republican Party of Virginia decided to select its 2013 nominees for statewide office in a closed convention, rather than in an open primary. It was reportedly a 47 to 31 vote. I'd surely like to know who those 47 people are and why they think most Virginia Republicans shouldn't have a voice in selecting their nominee.This Correspondent of the Day continued:
A convention cuts the party off from those of us for whom real life intrudes even on a convention Saturday. I almost missed the 2009 convention because I was deploying to Iraq with the Army. I likely would have missed the proposed 2010 convention due to reserve duty. Many other citizens have work or weddings or children's events or are in such difficult financial straits that they simply can't afford the money and time to travel back and forth to Richmond.He closed by adding:
I challenge the regular, everyday majority of the Republican Party to pressure our so-called leaders until this shortsighted convention decision is changed.Polls have shown that Ken Cuccinelli cannot win against any of the expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate but that Bill Bolling could win against all except Mark Warner.
Food for thought as Virginia Republicans tilt ever further right.