Compressed timeline for May 8 Lynchburg convention seems designed to limit participation
The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) tonight formally issued a call for the May 8 convention at Liberty University in Lynchburg to nominate Republican candidates for governor, lt. governor and attorney general for the November 2021 elections.
According to the convention call, which the RPV State Central Committee (SCC) approved Feb. 23 during a tense meeting, the timeline is as follows:
- Candidates have until March 26 at 5 pm to file with RPV and pay the filing fees: $14,000 for governor, $2,900 for Lt. Governor; $12,000 for Attorney General (note – this is about double from what it normally has been, which is based on a percentage of the office salary.)
- RPV issued a fillable PDF filing form that all units and candidates can use to enlist delegates, which is a good thing vs. paper forms.
- Delegates are to be elected by each GOP unit (of which there are 126 in Virginia) either through a mass meeting, convention or caucus. Traditionally, each unit is allotted a certain number of delegates and each delegate is “weighted” depending on how that jurisdiction votes (GOP or Democrat). These meetings are intended to prevent over filing. The call lists the maximum amount of delegates each unit can have.
- All certifications, regardless of the date of the local mass meeting, party canvass, or convention must be postmarked no later than April 22, 2021, or delivered to RPV in person by 5 p.m. on April 24, 2021.
- Convention convenes 9 a.m. May 8 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, and there would be drive-thru voting.
- By SCC resolution, which passed pretty overwhelmingly Tuesday, there will be no party plan amendments or resolutions brought to the convention to consider, but that is nonbinding unless the party plan is amended, so I am told.
- It is assumed there will be rank voting for candidates as there was with the Aug. 15 unassembled convention, so all nominees must receive 50% plus one to win.
- No fees can be charged to vote, but donations are voluntary.
So, at this juncture, unless SCC meets again to consider party plan amendments to allow for an “unassembled” convention at the district level, we are looking at an in-person convention, logistics of which are still not worked out with Liberty University. Liberty issued a statement that it has no agreement with RPV to host the convention or use its parking lots for drive-thru voting, but RPV Chair Rich Anderson arranged for a committee to meet with Liberty on the details
The pro convention faction issued a list of party plan amendments to allow for an unassembled convention.
As 2nd vice chair of the Norfolk Republican Party, I see problems with the compressed timeline:
First, the filing deadline for the candidates is quite late, given the fact anyone who wants to run has already declared. The March 26 date prolongs the entire process. But I guess units can start now to issue their own calls for delegates and mass meetings to nominate them.
Second, the April 22/24 deadlines puts a heavy burden on the 126 local units to issue calls for either mass meetings or caucuses — particularly those with few volunteers to key in paper filing forms and convene mass meetings/caucuses to approve delegates. The idea of units doing the counting of votes, which pro primary SCC members proposed, puts more of a burden on the units
The uniform filing form helps, but it doesn’t export to a spreadsheet, which means the local units have to key in the information. RPV staff (which is but four people) had no time nor money to do an online filing system, which many of us had been pushing for.
Third, the call (and party plan) still requires each unit to elect and certify the delegates before April 24. In addition, the party plan does not allow canvasses or mass meetings to be conducted by Zoom. A canvass, which I assume can be drive thru, would be the option to use for confirming delegates (again, another burden on the units).
Third, while candidates recruit their own delegates and can line them up to go to Lynchburg ,they are owed a consolidated list of all delegates. If most units file their delegate lists between April 22 and 24, it will take some time for RPV to compile it and get it to the candidates. So, this leaves only 10 or 12 days to the May 8 convention for candidates to campaign.
Fourth, and most important, is how RPV can hold a convention in person given COVID restrictions. There was talk of having curbside drive-thru voting at Liberty U., but the university has not given permission to use its parking lots, which students and staff will be using on May 8.
I expect students and parents are likely to be peeved if the university allows for a big convention on campus, but not an in-person graduation exercise for seniors.
For the units and the candidates, this is just not a very good situation. It has created a lot of rancor in GOP activist ranks, too. The long knives are already out for Pete Snyder for his campaign operatives’ involvement to push the convention option (click here ) and the New York Times wrote a slanted article here.
And Gov. Blackface still holds the cards. He can shut down the convention under COVID, which means the SCC picks our candidates.
A number of the egotists on SCC would love to be kingmakers, I guess.
In my view, this whole effort is being masterminded by SCC members who feel a convention is the way to block Sen. Amanda Chase from winning the nomination, and help Pete Snyder, who has advocated for one through SCC members on his campaign.
Chase is already making accusations against Snyder and threatening an independent run. Click here to read the Democrat Governors Assn. article on this.
And what is nuts about this is that Chase – who already is an Independent in the State Senate — could still file as an independent and only needs 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot and become a spoiler for the GOP.
For the record, I have no choice for governor or lt. governor just yet. While I supported using the state primary (deadline passed Feb. 23 for RPV to use it), or a party run firehouse primary, I hope the holdouts in the pro primary faction of SCC will now support the party plan amendments to have an unassembled convention with rank-choice voting, and limit the burdens on the units and its volunteers.