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It’s A Convention. So What?

By Greg L | 14 March 2007 | 28th VA Senate | 12 Comments

Not Larry Sabato has an interesting post up regarding the confusion that has apparently been reigning within the 28th Senate District Committee regarding the method of selecting a Republican candidate to fill the seat of retiring Senator John Chichester. His take essentially is that “moderates” screwed up and missed the opportunity to have an open primary and are stuck with a convention. My read on this is just a little different.

If “moderates” do control the local party units, having a convention would in no way thwart their goals. There’s nothing particularly favorable towards a conservative Republican candidate over a “moderate” Republican candidate in a convention, as both would have to register delegates and get them to actually show up and cast their vote in favor of the candidate who enrolled them. While the process tends to favor those most active in local politics within a district, I haven’t seen any evidence that would indicate that “moderates” are any less politically active than conservatives. So to be “stuck” with a convention really doesn’t favor anyone. Unless of course you think your candidate can’t win among those active in the party.

If you’re someone in the mold of John Chichester, however, you may be of the opinion that you don’t stand much of a chance of winning a nomination contest unless you can get folks who are not Republicans to come and support you in a Republican nomination process. I’m pretty surprised that anyone out there would seriously consider it a good thing for a party nomination process to become polluted by a large degree of participation by those who have no interest in being affiliated with that party. So if someone, perhaps Dan Chichester, believes that his only decent shot is to have Democrats show up and help him get selected as the Republican nominee for the 28th District, and now wants to whine about how his allies happened to sabotage this conspiracy, I hope that gets broad coverage among 28th District Republicans. That speaks volumes about a candidacy is dependent on such subterfuge.

In the 28th District, Republicans will choose the best Republican to run as their candidate for the state senate. That’s how it should be. If this ends up making John Van Hoy the most likely candidate to be selected by Republicans, that’s a strong argument for those who believe that his candidacy and platform actually represents the party better than a fringe group of folks who cannot get their candidates elected without having Democrats come to their rescue in the Republican nominating process. How that could be anything less than ideal might only be apparent to anyone who subscribes to the principles and values of the Democratic party, which somewhat explains how this is somehow a Bad Thing to the folks at Not Larry Sabato.  They thought Chichester was just peachy.  Perhaps he should have been a Democrat, then.

I wonder what the commentary would look like if we were talking about a “moderate” Democrat and the issue was whether Republicans would be excluded from helping to select him as the Democrat’s nominee for a general election. Might we be hearing a different story? Perhaps.

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  1. Not Larry Sabato said on 14 Mar 2007 at 11:18 pm:
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    What a bunch of crap! I didn’t imply any opinion on what happened. If you look at my history, I am a big proponent of the Cuccinelli lawsuit to shut down the crossover voting.

  2. Greg L said on 14 Mar 2007 at 11:44 pm:
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    I understand your previous commentary on the lawsuit that Cuccinelli is engaged in, but I take issue with the implication that this necessarily benefits a conservative unless you’re saying there’s some intent by “moderates” to try to ram their candidate through a nomination process by encouraging Democrats to participate in a primary contest. A convention benefits those who work hard. Regardless of what ideology a candidate represents, that opportunity to win is dependent on nothing other than legwork.

  3. Not Larry Sabato said on 14 Mar 2007 at 11:46 pm:
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    That’s exactly what I’m saying.

  4. Veronica Corningstone said on 15 Mar 2007 at 6:52 am:
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    This is a big deal because Russ Moulton purposely took over the S28 nominating committee to remove Chichester from office- and he said so in public. Moulton represents the most extreme social Republican elements in the party, and is not the best representative of the party or the district. He crafted a committee and a process to get as extreme a candidate as possible.

    So it wasn’t that Chichester was relying on Democrats to nominate him. With the deck completely stacked against him in a convention he needed a primary to allow the actual Republicans (fiscally conservative, respectful of privacy issues) the opportunity to have their voices heard.

  5. 10thdistrictrepublican said on 15 Mar 2007 at 7:19 am:
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    We would not be discussing any of this if Virginia had party registration.

  6. Bwana said on 15 Mar 2007 at 7:46 am:
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    Yes, we would…

    There is a difference between the party activist who will be sure to vote no matter the venue or the time commitment and the run of the mill voter who typically votes for the party nominee in the general and maybe in a primary, will vote GOP at the election.

    There are issues in deciding on a convention or primary that go beyond crossover voting between parties. There are also questions of accessibility to voters of various ideological stripes and interest within a party.

    Party registration does not obviate these issues…

  7. Conventions are still not the Silver Bullet « Renaissance Ruminations said on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:28 am:
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    […] Posted by bwana on March 15th, 2007 With the “No Mas” announcement by John Chichester, the political maneuvering in Virginia 28 has commenced as to whether a convention or primary should be used to nominate his potential successor.  This is a matter of no small controversy, as seen at NLS and BVBL. […]

  8. anon said on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:40 am:
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    What party registration does is forever cement the Republican party and the Democratic party in our political structure.

    Not a good thing in my opinion. Especially in light of how far they have strayed from who they are “supposed” to be.

  9. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:44 am:
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    Veronica, had John Chichester chosen to run for reelection, state law grants him, not Russ Moulton, the choice between a primary and a convention. Now, with it being an open seat, it would be up to the party to decide between the two. HOWEVER, John Chichester waited so long to announce his retirement that we are passed the deadline to request a primary and therefore a convention MUST be held to nominate the candidate.

  10. veronica corningstone said on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:55 am:
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    They had until 5 yesterday to make the decision as to primary v/ caucus. While Chichester certainly waited until the 11th hour, the party did have the opportunity to make a choice.

    And Moulton attempted to remove Chichester from the party (ultimately defeated), which would have given him control of the process before Chichester retired.

  11. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 15 Mar 2007 at 11:53 am:
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    Sure they had until 5 yesterday. But there is that little issue of having proper notice to hold a meeting at which the decision would have to be made. In this case, a meeting could not have been held before the deadline.

    So what if Moultan tried to remove Chichester? As you said, the move was defeated. Woulda, shoulda, coulda…

  12. Riley, Not O'Reilly said on 15 Mar 2007 at 2:06 pm:
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    Looks like Veronica showed her true colors on NLS:

    Look out all you NoVA guys. We’re going to pick up 2 in central.
    Go Carlos!
    Go Albert!

    Posted by: veronica corningstone | March 15, 2007 at 01:47 PM


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