In 2011 four major figures in the Republican Party of Virginia were removed from their local parties after they refused to support the chosen Republican nominee for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney. It showed that nobody was above the party rules – not Ken Cuccinelli or Eric Cantor or Bill Howell or Bill Bolling.
Whatever the circumstances were for their choices, the rules of the Party held steady, although the punishment itself proved rather toothless.
Some, however, thought that both conscience and circumstances should always be taken into consideration. Fast forward five years and Virginia Republicans are on the brink of facing a similar dilemma as we close out the presidential primary campaign…just as our 11 Congressional Districts are electing new members to the RPV State Central Committee.
The SCC is the governing body of the Party, so what happens if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee and members of the SCC are #NeverTrump? If we go by the book, many of these potential SCC members will be removed from their seats.
I think this is something we as a Party need to think about carefully and start contemplating now. On the one hand, do we really want the state GOP controlled by people who are not going to support the presidential nominee? On the other hand, is RPV willing to lose potentially scores of very loyal volunteers for the sake of Party rules?
I’ve been honest with the fact that I did not vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, and instead cast my ballot for Gary Johnson. So, far be it from me to lecture anyone about how they should vote. I am personally of the mind that you, the grassroots voter/volunteer, don’t owe anything to the Party, but rather it is the Party’s responsibility to respect you and your work.
If you find a candidate objectionable, then you should not be punished in any way for following your conscience, especially if you are still engaged in local and Congressional races helping other Republican candidates. While I may have voted for Johnson in 2012, I also voted for George Allen and Chris Perkins.
This could be the next messy fight for RPV. I believe Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president, and I know not a few people who are simply unwilling to vote and support him. They are simply following the dictates of their conscience. I voted my conscience in 2012, so I hope that the RPV won’t sacrifice volunteers as another proxy for the ongoing war between the various factions in the Party.
The delegates to District Conventions know for whom they are voting, and their right to support the candidates from their neighborhood should supersede whatever is going on Grace Street, at the Obenshain Center in Richmond. If #NeverTrump candidates are elected to State Central, it’s simply not worth losing these volunteers and the trust of the local committees that elected them by overturning their local preferences.
A true way to unify the party is to truly unify it: let everyone in the tent and we’ll figure it out. Those who don’t support Trump can work for Congressional candidate; I don’t think The Donald will be lacking in volunteers.