There is currently a write-in campaign being promoted in the 29th House of Delegates (Winchester, Frederick and Warren Counties) in support of Delegate Mark Berg. Delegate Berg lost the Republican nomination to Chris Collins in a very contentious primary in June.
So far Mark Berg has not publicly denounced this write-in campaign.
Many individuals are upset Democrats were able to participate in the Republican nominating process. Many think it decided the outcome of the nomination. It probably did. It was a state-run open primary.
For a little background, there are two ways to nominate a political candidate: via an open primary, or via a party-run process. Open primaries are run by the local government and paid for by local taxpayers. Since we do not have party registration in Virginia, any registered voter may participate. Democrats can vote in Republican nominations contests. In Clarke County we did an informal study a few years ago and found up to 10% of voters in our Republican open primaries were known Democrats. Consequently most conservatives prefer a convention or party canvass (also known as a firehouse primary), which are organized, run, and paid for by the Republican Party (no taxpayer dollars used). Rules are written to limit, or eliminate, participation by Democrats.
Unfortunately the Republican Party only has the privilege of choosing the nominating process for the General Assembly when the seat is vacant. According to Virginia Code 24.2-509, the incumbent General Assembly members are able to choose the method by which they wish to be renominated. Almost all incumbents choose open primaries, and some even actively court Democrats to participate.
A party shall nominate its candidate for election for a General Assembly district where there is only one incumbent of that party for the district by the method designated by that incumbent or absent any designation by him by the method of nomination determined by the party.
This is where it gets confusing. Mark Berg was the incumbent. He is also known to be a strong conservative, and even a member of the Republican State Central Committee pledged to support the party-run process.
Yet, the 29th House of Delegates nomination process in June was an open primary.
The Republican Party regularly nominates candidates via its own processes. In April 2014 we had a very successful party canvass for the nomination of our Rep. Barbara Comstock, with over 13,000 voters participating. The Republican Party of Virginia frequently holds conventions to nominate candidates for statewide office, with thousands attending. Unit and District Committees utilize local mass meetings, conventions, or party canvasses to nominate their candidates. The 10th District Republican Committee even organized a party canvass for the Winchester Commonwealth Attorney nomination after the local unit committee had internal conflicts preventing it from doing so itself.
I do not know why Mark Berg chose an open primary, or abdicated his responsibilities to others to make that decision. He is smart, so I am sure he understood the Virginia Code. I suspect he was very poorly advised.
The bottom line, Mark Berg and his advisors bear 100% of the responsibility of making it possible for Democrats to openly vote in the 29th’s HOD Republican Nomination, not Chris Collins.
Two years ago some conservatives accused ‘The Establishment’ of turning their backs on Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain, and accused them of being less than Republican. Are the Conservatives in the 29th no better?
I call on Delegate Mark Berg to publicly denounce this write-in campaign and have a press conference with our nominee Chris Collins declaring his full support for our candidate.
It is time for all of us to start being 100% Republican.