Progress! GOP Replaces FUBAR With Confusion

by Steve Haner

Virginia Republicans are finally beginning their nomination process for statewide candidates, graduating from the FUBAR phase of this exercise to a state of mere confusion.

It is not a primary, nor is it a traditional “under one roof” convention, nor even the proposed “everyone in one parking lot” convention. The process most closely resembles a party canvass or firehouse primary, with the added requirement that to vote in the canvass you must pre-register as a delegate. 

The confusion arises because each of the party’s local city and county units will have some variation in their deadlines for filing the paperwork to be a delegate. And to be a delegate you are responsible for getting that signed application form to the appropriate party apparatchik by the appointed day and time. When and where? Much of that remains to be announced.

It is an application. The individual party units will have their own process for either approving everybody’s application or winnowing them out some way. It is on you to find out what is going on in your own locality, although the better organized statewide campaigns will be happy to help if you pledge your support. The details are supposed to appear here eventually. Or here.

Blink and you may miss your local deadline.

There is no limit on how many people can file in any given city or county, and there is no fee to file. Any registered voter in Virginia can participate. The state party-issued delegate application contains a declaration of intent to support the party nominees in November.

Come the big day, Saturday, May 8, there could be 37 or even more locations around the state where the delegates will need to go to their unit’s assigned location, check in and complete a ballot, designating their first and second choice for the three offices: governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.  The poll locations may not be known until April 24, but for most shouldn’t be too long a drive. It seems you will just vote and leave.

In a primary or true party canvass, each vote counts the same. Not so with this process. Each unit has a set number of delegate votes based on how many people voted Republican in the last presidential and gubernatorial elections. You can see the breakdown on the final two pages of this Call to Convention.

Fairfax County has 1,142 delegate votes and Highland County 7.  If the units sign up more people than it has delegate votes, each of their delegates who votes gets a fractional vote. If they send fewer, those people cast more than one vote. You will see both outcomes on May 8, with delegates from the most populous locations getting a fractional vote but some rural delegates with whole or even multiple votes.

Are you starting to see why some didn’t want a true primary? With a true primary, turnout in one region can overcome geographical balance. Guess which region.  The good news is thousands of people will get to participate, probably more than with a real convention but fewer than with a primary. But the crucial political weight Northern Virginia will carry on November 2 will be diluted on May 8.

The list of potential governors on the RPV website is up to ten names but may shrink a bit when a $14,000 cash filing fee is due from each campaign in ten days. Frankly, if seven of them passed me on the sidewalk I wouldn’t know them, and eight probably wouldn’t know me.

Former Speaker Kirk Cox and Chesterfield State Senator Amanda Chase have head starts from 2020 and are reaching out aggressively now to get people to sign delegate forms. Wealthy retired Northern Virginia tycoons Pete Snyder and Glenn Youngkin are latecomers, aggressively buying name ID in various advertising media and presumably building lists of their own.

Meaning no disrespect, the other six are non-starters at this point. In a convention, the also-rans can have an impact if things get complicated. I will be shocked if the four names above don’t share 95% of the first and second choice votes. But with only a first and second choice named, will the final nominee achieve a majority? Maybe not.

This is the key language from the Republican Party Plan:

“Ranked choice voting” shall mean a system of election in which each voter ranks candidates in order of preference (first, second, third, etc.) and ballots are tabulated sequentially identifying the candidate with the least support, eliminating that candidate, and transferring those votes to the next-ranked candidate on each ballot, until there are only as many candidates left as seats available.

So, lacking an outright majority, the person who gets the most first choice votes could lose when all the second choices are tallied on the ballots for the eliminated candidates. Soon enough the political ads will include a theme new to Virginia politics: “If not your first choice, make me your second choice.”

Voting in this process will be fairly easy compared to the counting that follows.  Staffing 30-plus count rooms with reliable observers with math skills will be the real test for the campaigns.

And remember which party we’re talking about here, the experts at the circular firing squad. Odds are the drama is just beginning.

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12 responses to “Progress! GOP Replaces FUBAR With Confusion”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well , the BIG problem is that they’re acting like they believe COVID is real. Why aren’t they going after Northam for his silly rules that is screwing up their convention?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      According to a recent poll ~35% of Republicans (~49% of GOP men) are going to forego the vaccine. That pretty much assures that any deaths after July is one fewer Republican vote. Now THAT’S voter suppression!

      **It took 4 years before SARS cleared.

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        Get my 2nd shot tomorrow, in case it helps you agree with my positions any better. At least I can pass one litmus test.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          I don’t think that’s a litmus test, more like a life choice. While it may not bring us closer in our positions, it does make arguing with you more fun. Like the golfer said to his wife when he got home, “Crappiest game ever. Pete had a cardiac on the third fairway, and after that it was just hit the ball, drag Pete, hit the ball, drag Pete…”

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    I hope y’all still gonna nominate Amanda. I wanna drive the final nail in the Party of Putin… what Trump has done for the national party, Trump-in-Heels can do to the RPV.

  3. Steve Gillispie Avatar
    Steve Gillispie

    A good posting. Very informative, Steve.

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Absolutely fascinating Mr. Haner. I plan to be a delegate if I can figure out the yellow brick road to the unassembled convention. It should prove to be the most interesting convention since the days of the 1881 Readjusters (Republican) convention led by Billy Mahone. 1881 and 2021 have one thing in common. Education is going to be a key plank. I hope the drive thru is a Burger King and not a Hardee’s.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Well, as a “convention” it seems a bust — just drive to the location, check in, vote, and go home to watch for results. A true statewide convention has its upside, mainly seeing people from all around the state you seldom see.

      But yeah, be pro-active and find the info on your county. It is not like there are any public notice requirements. This is still the insiders limiting participation to maximize their individual (perceived) clout.

      Department of Corrections reported yesterday that so far about 40% 0f inmates and staff have refused the vaccine, even though all have been offered. Somehow I don’t think they are all Republicans, but keep up the talking points, Nancy. Everybody I know has had it or is seeking it.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Do they vote? Then who cares?

        Which is the more significant number, 40% of prisoners, or 49% of Republican men? Maybe it’s the same population?

        No doubt you know everyone. What about that horny guy at the Capitol? No. Not Morrissey. The US Capitol.

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          Well, yeah, they vote the day they get out now, apparently. Won’t be long until New Blue Virginia has voting booths in prisons. Hell, if all those folks are GOP, maybe I want that too! (And maybe the Dem’s will slow down?)

      2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Interesting. It costs 14 grand to file a run for governor with the Republican Party of Virginia. The blue plate special is Lt. Governor. Filing fee is only 2,900 dollars. Never knew any of this.

  5. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Ha! Let the games begin! Just heard that the City of Newport News Committee just set 5 p.m. this Friday as the filing deadline for delegate wannabes! Clearly trying to keep the news among a narrow circle of known associates….keep out the riffraff. And they hold seminars on why they lose….

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