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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