Virginia Republicans haven't had it easy lately. The trouble seemed to start in earnest during last year's elections -- GOP candidates lost all of the statewide races -- and went downhill from there.
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was indicted on corruption charges. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) was thrown out of office by his own party in a shocking primary. Party leaders hoped to make this year's U.S. Senate race in the commonwealth a key battleground, but have so far failed miserably.
This week, the intra-party fights took a turn for the worse, to the point that msnbc's Tim Noah said
it looks like "the entire Virginia GOP is having a nervous breakdown." Jenna Portnoy reported
The battle for control of the Republican Party of Virginia continued to rage this week with revelations of new discord between three prominent elected officials and a group of increasingly powerful conservative activists. The conflict centers around a request from three of Virginia's Republican congressmen to state GOP leaders urging them to postpone a meeting last Saturday that was widely expected to feature a contentious showdown over control of party leadership posts.
I can appreciate why a dispute between congressmen and local party leaders over leadership posts may not seem important, but let's not forget that a dispute like this was a precursor to Cantor's stunning defeat earlier in the summer.
And given that Virginia is one of the nation's key swing states, the fact that its state GOP is suffering through "growing rancor and division," as the congressmen put it, may very well carry consequences down the road.
In this case, U.S. Reps. H. Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt, and Scott Rigell, Republicans all, urged the Republican State Central Committee to delay a meeting over local leadership posts. Party officials ignored the request, held the meeting, and "hashed out rules and regulations for internal elections."
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Neil Vener, a former commonwealth's attorney in Campbell County who is at the center of the battle there, said the State Central Committee's rulings will hurt the party in the long run just as similar battles have weakened the party nationally. "These kinds of intraparty fights at the expense of winning elections are not helpful. The party needs to heed the advice of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and not be the stupid party. Instead of fighting with each other, they need to actually win elections," Vener said.