I believe it is the biggest unfunny joke in Virginia right now that the State Central Committee (SCC) has wasted 20 hours and four majority votes over three meetings on the issue of whether to nominate our statewide candidates by convention or primary. There are so many other things that SCC should have been focused on, but some people would rather niggle about decisions already made rather than get on with the important business of the Party.
Much of the discussion was a battle between a minority of SCC members who were trying to change the method of nomination – for who knows what reasons – and the majority who were fending off the assaults on the decision. Chairman Rich Anderson was, I am sure, trying to let us work out our differences and reach an equilibrium, but it eventually became more than evident that such a result was not going to happen. In response, Chairman Anderson sent a letter to the SCC membership. I quote it here in part:
Saturday’s meeting (7.5 hours long) resulted in the same impasse that confronted us at our meetings on December 5th (8 hours long) and January 16th(4.5 hours long). Collectively, these three meetings produced four majority votes by the SCC to proceed with a traditional assembled RPV State Convention for selecting our candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
As most have acknowledged, the current COVID-19 restrictions in Virginia preclude an assembled convention, and a majority of SCC members (but not the required 75% threshold) want to approve amendments to the State Party Plan (SPP) for an unassembled drive-through convention. At present, this is unachievable and not likely forthcoming. That is the current situation in which we find ourselves, and we now stand at an impasse with no apparent way forward.
As State Party Chair, I now find myself at a place where I have been instructed by the SCC through four successive votes—across three meetings and over a two-month period—that we will proceed with a convention. From my perspective, the clock is ticking, time is fleeing, the media has been reporting since December 5th that we have opted for a convention, and our 126 local Republican units and rank-and-file Republicans have been told four times by an SCC majority that we are moving with a convention. Likewise, many of our candidates for all three statewide offices have been proceeding since December 5th with engineering their campaigns for a convention.
In the interim and in the coming week, I have no choice but to form the various convention committees that are mandated by the SPP [State Party Plan] for convention planning, which is consistent with what I have previously said to the SCC. With our present impasse, I will direct the RPV staff to initiate contingency planning for both convention options (i.e., assembled and unassembled conventions). While I prefer to plan for an unassembled convention only, I do not have that option and would be negligent if I were to defer planning to a future date.
At the close of Saturday’s SCC meeting, a motion passed to fix our next official meeting to 10am on Saturday, February 27th. I believe that we now need a cooling off period as a result of our present impasse, passions running at elevated levels in full view of the public, adverse publicity, and the need for Congressional District Republican Committee chairs to research potential district venues for unassembled conventions.
Without approved SPP amendments for an unassembled convention, we are now on a trajectory that will preclude an assembled convention, an unassembled convention, and a primary. That will require that our three statewide nominees be selected by the SCC, which will take on the perception of party bosses huddled in a smoke-filled back room. To the best of my knowledge, the last statewide nominee designated by the SCC was in 1978 under extraordinary circumstances when Senator John W. Warner III was selected after the death of our convention-nominated candidate, Richard D. Obenshain. Four decades later, I don’t wish to employ this method.
I do not believe that any member of the SCC wants SCC to choose our nominee. If any member does, that member should resign immediately so that someone else can be elected to that position who has the best interests of Republican voters at heart – rather than those of a favored candidate. As you read this, many people are working quickly to provide a quality event. Their goal – as is mine – is to allow Republican voters, and only Republican voters to select our nominees. It is a shame that a few SCC members wasted so much of our time. But we will get this right, for you.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D,