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Virginia GOP struggles to figure out how to nominate candidates

Only New Jersey and Virginia will hold elections this year, and in one of them, the GOP is struggling mightily to figure out how to nominate candidates.


Only New Jersey and Virginia will hold statewide elections this year, and in one of them, the Republican Party is struggling mightily to figure out how to nominate candidates. As the Roanoke Times reported:

The Republican Party of Virginia is again trying to figure how to nominate its statewide candidates after concluding that a one-site drive-in convention at Liberty University is not feasible. "The convergence of as many as 4,000 automobiles and 70 buses at a single venue makes that impossible," Rich Anderson, chairman of the state GOP, wrote to Republican officials Friday.

Let's take a moment to review how we arrived at this point.

After decades of dominance, the Republican Party of Virginia started falling on hard times toward the end of the Bush/Cheney era. As things stand, Republicans haven't won a statewide election since 2009. Democrats now control the governor's office, the lieutenant governor's office, the attorney general's office, the state legislature, and most of the congressional delegation. At the presidential level, the Democrats' national ticket has won four of the last four elections -- with President Joe Biden nearly winning the commonwealth by double digits.

This year, state GOP officials clearly have some work to do.

They're just not sure how. Republican officials in the commonwealth voted four times on how to choose their 2021 candidates, but as the New York Times recently explained, "in a sign of the Trumpian times," many Virginia Republicans simply refused to accept the outcome and kept the fight going. The article added, "Just a month after former President Donald J. Trump left office, Virginia's drama is the first state-level boomerang of his legacy. Some state Republicans have internalized the lesson that there is no benefit to accepting results they don't like, and the result is a paralyzed party."

Last month, they voted for a fifth time and settled on an apparent solution: on May 8, delegates to the Republican convention would choose candidates by driving to Liberty University, an evangelical school founded by the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell. Participants would submit a ballot through a drive-through system at the far-right school.

There would be no alternative ways of participating in the process. Proposals to have voting locations throughout Virginia were rejected.

The day after the matter was ostensibly resolved, officials at Liberty University announced that they had not agreed to the Virginia Republicans' plan. Now, that plan has collapsed altogether.

So, what happens now? From the Roanoke Times report:

Anderson says he will call yet another meeting of the Republican State Central Committee — the party's leadership group — next week to renew discussion of earlier proposals for a convention that features satellite voting around the state. Holding such an "unassembled convention" would require a change in the party's rules. That would require a 75% vote from the State Central Committee.

That may not sound too difficult, but in recent months, reaching the 75% threshold has been a problem among Virginia GOP officials.

As for Virginia Democrats, the party's voters will participate in a regular ol' statewide primary on June 8. Election Day is 34 weeks away.