The State Central Committee (SCC) of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has voted five times over the course of nearly three months and four meetings to nominate our candidates for statewide office by convention. Because the meetings were live-streamed, the contentious debates and… inelegant… language that was used by some were an embarrassment to Republicans across the Commonwealth.
We had hoped to approve an unassembled convention as we did in 2020, but because of one word in the emergency meeting article (XII) of the Party Plan, we needed a vote of 75% of SCC to do so. Because the primary caucus (those who supported a primary) dug in their heels and obstinately refused to budge, we settled for a “single-location” drive-up convention (envision a drive-in movie theater) to be held on May 8 at Liberty University.
Between the third and fourth meetings, in an effort to avoid the type of verbal warfare that had existed in prior meetings, Chairman Rich Anderson convened a group of three members each from the convention caucus and the primary caucus who agreed to a plan of action that would keep the last meeting from turning into another debacle. That meeting convened on February 23 at 7 p.m. (after the deadline to choose a primary).
Under the agreed plan, SCC first voted again on the amendment that would remove the one word of the Party Plan that prevented us from having an unassembled convention. Although the vote was 39 in favor, 31 opposed, and 5 abstaining or recusing themselves (because they were being paid by one or another of the campaigns), the motion failed because Party Plan amendments require 75% approval.
As agreed, since the first amendment vote failed, SCC did not address several related amendments but moved to a motion brought by the primary caucus to change the method of nomination to a “firehouse primary.” This would have given us the same problems we would face with a regular primary, only worse. And we have never done a statewide firehouse primary, so the chance for it to fall apart at some point was high. Additionally, a firehouse primary would require a voting location in each of the 126 Republican units across the state. This seemed hypocritical because the primary caucus had said we couldn’t have 30 unassembled convention locations for a whole list of reasons, all of which would still be problems made four times worse because of the greater number of firehouse primary locations. The motion to change to a firehouse primary lost by a 34 to 36 vote with five abstentions.
Following the defeat of that motion, the agreement called for SCC to approve a call for a single location convention. Many of the primary caucus members argued against adoption using arguments that claimed disenfranchisement of voters. The only problem with those arguments was that it was the primary caucus members who voted against the Party Plan changes that would make the convention more open to more Republican voters. The final vote to approve the call was 38 to 31 with six abstentions and one who did not answer to the roll call vote.
A number of us would still like to see the convention still move to an unassembled format which would allow many more people to participate in the nomination process. But Jeff Ryer, one of the leaders of the primary caucus, said during the meeting, “There is no way that is ever happening.”
If you want more participation in the nomination process, contact your representatives on SCC and ask them how they voted. Then ask them to vote to increase locations so to increase voter participation. They should listen to you. After all they are supposed to represent you and not some “elite” political influence operation.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.