This Saturday the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee will be voting on a call for the 2017 Nominating Convention for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. In June 2015, after months of intense public and private debate, and thousands of emails and phone calls from concerned Republicans, the Virginia State Central Committee passed the following substitute motion on the Compromise Plan that Chip Muir and I proposed:
“In accordance with the state Party Plan, and the rules of the Republican National Committee, I move that Virginia’s Delegates and Alternates to the 2016 National Convention shall be elected by the respective District and State Conventions, and that their votes be bound by the results of the Republican Presidential Primary, to be held on March 1, 2016.
The votes of Virginia’s delegates, district, at-large Delegates, and Alternates, shall be bound on the first ballot, proportionally to candidates according to the votes received in the Statewide Presidential Primary vote. For the purpose of this allocation of votes, the State Chairman, National Committeewoman, and National Committeeman shall be considered unbound delegates.
In addition, it is recommended that RPV holds a 2017 nominating convention for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. RPV shall establish a restricted account to be used for convention expenses. Money can be donated or transferred to the account, if it’s expressly designated, and can only be drawn for use to pay expenses related to the 2017 convention.”
Why was the Compromise Plan necessary? As Chip Muir laid out in multiple op-eds (Here) the Republican Party of Virginia has been tearing itself apart over nomination process for nearly a decade. Where you stand on the method of nomination has, unfortunately, become a litmus test for conservatism in Virginia Republican politics.
Our fear was that a rushed and compact Presidential Convention process to allocate Republican National Convention delegates would have brought to bear so much pressure and outside influences upon the party structure that we would have devolved into chaos. Contested Mass Meetings would have been more insane than they usually are, District conventions would have been rife with disputes, and if you attended the State Convention in Harrisonburg this year and thought that the fights there were intense, can you imagine what it would have been like if the actual binding of delegates to the national convention would have been involved?
The purpose of offering the Compromise Plan was to accomplish three goals: 1) Reduce the intra-party fighting 2) Allow RPV and local GOP units to focus their attention on preparing for elections, and 3) Allow RPV to raise significant funds by showing the public that we are able to work together and govern ourselves through prioritizing electoral success rather than party control.
To a large degree I believe that the passage of the Compromise Plan was able to create an environment to allow us to accomplish these goals. The subsequent relative intra-party calm (compared to previous cycles) over the last year is certainly one piece of evidence. Electorally, over the course of the year Republicans successfully held on to the Virginia Senate. RPV is now not only out of debt, but we’re in the black. At a time when we were in a financial hole, not spending money on a gigantic convention allowed RPV to use its resources to regain solvency, and now we once again have the financial capability to host a top-notch convention. Chairman Whitbeck and his team’s fundraising success should be applauded.
More than just hitting these three strategic goals for the Republican Party of Virginia, Chip and I believed that if RPV passed the Compromise Plan, it just might set RPV leadership on a path towards much needed long term reconciliation.
When I spoke on the motion for the Compromise Plan I said that “ As a party, we have been so completely engrossed in fights about the process that we have lost sight of how to work together and thereby, win together. Both sides are at fault in this regard. It is my hope that if we can have two years of peace in regards to process, that we can begin to work together, and to win together. Because we simply cannot win without each faction of the party coming together…Everyone of us has an opportunity for real leadership. I hope that you will show it by voting for the Compromise Plan.”
Many SCC members who are traditionally pro-convention stood up that day and showed real leadership by speaking in favor of the Compromise Plan knowing that they would receive intense pressure for “crossing over.” Many of these same members subsequently lost their SCC seats for that very reason. They showed sacrificial leadership and I greatly admire those good conservative Virginians because of the way they conducted themselves that day. They proved the doubters wrong who said the plan would never gain enough support or that those in the Conservative Fellowship are not independent minded enough to break away and support such an idea.
A significant number of traditionally pro-primary members that still serve on SCC also stood up that day and spoke in favor of the Compromise Plan and I appreciate their efforts as well. But for them, that was the easy vote, this Saturday will be a more difficult vote. During debate on the method of nomination a number of SCC members spoke against the Compromise Plan by saying that pro-primary members would not keep their word, that they would not follow through, in short, that they lacked integrity. I don’t believe that’s the case, and I hope that on Saturday those predictions will be proven wrong.
It’s time to put the integrity of our party first, to bring the Compromise Plan to fruition, and prove to ourselves that we can work together and begin trusting each other once again.
Originally published at the Virginia Republican Review