Are you happy with our Primary campaign season and results from last Tuesday?
For many of us the answer is an overwhelming no.
Are you happy with how Corey Stewart campaigned?
Are you happy that he almost won?
Are you happy that he lost?
Are you happy that Frank Wagner’s support couldn’t be counted for either Corey Stewart or Ed Gillespie?
Are you happy that we have a candidate that received far less than a mandate from our voters?
Repeat nearly identical questions for the Lt. Governor’s race.
Primaries are great in many ways:
The government oversees and sifts out illegal voting.
Members of the military have easy access to absentee voting.
The party doesn’t pay for a Primary.
We can gather substantial voter data.
Primaries allow for maximum voter participation
Conventions (or other party processes) are great in many ways:
Democrats and other non-party members can be kept out of a convention.
More informed, and not casual voters elect our nominees.
We don’t rely on the government to foot the bill.
Candidates with less funding or name recognition still stand a chance.
They do make money for the party.
There is one thing you lose that can never be regained when selecting a Primary over a party process: FLEXIBILITY.
When a political party gives up its power of free association to the government to conduct its nominating process, the Government sets all the rules. This isn’t the government trying to control the two major political parties, this is the government by its nature only being able to conduct a Primary in the following manner:
- All registered voters may participate, and
- The highest vote getter wins regardless of their vote percentage.
The Primary creates a game in which the person who can convince one more person to vote for them than the next highest vote getter wins. Candidates are not appealing to a majority of Republicans, but instead are incentivized to turnout their own base of support, and depress the support of the next strongest candidate. Getting fewer people to vote IS THE GOAL when looked at in terms of raw game theory. The unpleasant campaign season can be chalked up to the fact that our Republican candidates get this game theory better than the Democrats.
There were approximately 542 thousand votes cast in the Democratic gubernatorial primary as opposed to approximately 365 thousand in the Republican one. Are there that many more base Democrats than Republicans in Virginia? No. We simply had fewer people engaged in our Primary either due to negativity or the lack of choices. Looking at the Lt. Governor’s race we had a dropoff of about 10,000 undervotes representing people who had little or no interest in supporting one of our candidates. The vote difference between Vogel and Reeves was almost exactly 10,000 votes.
On to 2018:
This Saturday, June 24th RPV State Central Committee will meet in Richmond and decide the method of nomination for our Senate Candidate in 2018. If the vote is for party process instead of a primary here is what we are choosing in terms of flexibility:
We as Republicans will be able to keep out non-Republicans. Due to anti-slating measures in the Party Plan practically everybody who wants to participate will be able to participate. I constantly hear the refrain that our military members are disenfranchised in a convention. The party plan was modified a few years ago to provide for deployed military member attendance by absentee ballot. See Art. VIII § 7 of the Party Plan on pages 20-21. (more on this later).
The winner at a convention receives at least 50% +1 of the vote. This means that whoever comes out of a convention can claim a mandate. Imagine a Primary with 6 or more candidates where the plurality winner receives less than 30% of the vote. This nightmare scenario will lead to an incredibly weak nominee. In a convention, whether there are 2 or 20 candidates the winner will walk away with a majority of the vote.
In a party process, candidate preference can be expressed. From what I can tell all the Corey Stewart Supporters think the Frank Wagner votes would have gone to Stewart and all the Ed Gillespie supporters think the Wagner votes would have gone to Gillespie. It would be nice for the Wagner supporters to have an opportunity to actually tally their preference for second choice, but that can only happen in a party process. Which gets us to one of the greatest benefits of flexibility: Instant Runoff Voting.
Whether at a convention or firehouse primary we have the opportunity to utilize instant runoff voting, where you as a delegate or voter vote for candidates in rank order of preference. This allows for a majority winner in a firehouse primary. This allows for a one and done vote at a convention. I know everyone loves sitting around at a convention for hours on end to vote over and over again. But if we had just one vote, and our candidates vied openly to be delegates’ second or even third choice game theory suggests a very different campaign in the spring. Instead of nastiness yielding substantial benefits, nastiness would be a dangerous gamble. Then you show up to a convention or firehouse primary, vote, AND LEAVE. Those who wish to stay and enjoy the show, or monitor the counting can do so. The rest of humanity can return to their daily lives. Virginia Democrats can do instant runoff voting. And instant runoff voting is what we have provided for our deployed military members in Art. VIII § 7 of the party plan identified above. Virginia Republicans are capable of a better way of handling Conventions.
Two more thoughts before packing up this segment about Saturday’s State Central Committee meeting (Oh yes, there is more):
1. The vote is largely preordained. Last August a Primary was chosen by a vote of 41-40. I run my own internal whip counts for most major votes. Due to turnover in various positions since November 2016 the primary side now has an 8 (eight) vote advantage. Unless grassroots members in the 2, 3, 4, or in the specialty seats pressure their representatives firmly but respectfully, the vote margin is too large to overcome. Nonetheless, it should be known that we are giving up the flexibility inherent in a party process by choosing a primary.
2. There is a very vocal member who points out that conventions can be rigged. Rigged is too strong a term. They can be manipulated to the point of being unfair. The convention body can overturn this unfairness, but it is difficult. As a District Chairman I am one of 12 people with power over Convention Committees. I will always appoint people who will fight to return power to the broadest base of the convention body and away from the convention architects (while still running the convention in an efficient manner). Moreover, preventing problems starts with the convention call. I had a plan to deal with the call that was sent out two days before the SCC meeting last August, and I’ll have a plan if a Convention is chosen for 2018.
I encourage my fellow SCC members to support the flexibility inherent in a party process on Saturday.
This Saturday we will also be addressing national delegate selection, RPV appeal reform, and the transparency committee. I hope to address these in the coming days.
[…] Earlier this week I discussed the persistent discussion at the Republican Party of Virginia State Ce…. This Saturday, June 24th will see far more than a vote on nomination method. […]
I have a question. Is there a reason why we can’t have some sort of hybrid? Like an early Convention in January or February to narrow the field to two, and then have a primary to choose our nominee with a true majority?
What you suggest is a great and reasonable idea, so therefore the rules are set up to prevent it from happening.
As indicated above when we choose a primary we sacrifice flexibility. In order to get on the primary ballot one must follow state law that requires payment of a fee and signature gathering. The State party can not hold an earlier process that would limit state law.
As I indicated on Facebook, state law would have to be substantially changed in order to accomplish the plan you suggest. As seen with Nick Freita’s bill to allow IRV, innovation is killed in subcommittees with unrecorded votes. The chances of a major change in law are slim to none.
What we are left with is the possibility of having a two stage selection process in the form of a party run convention to narrow the field, and firehouse primary to select the candidate. But this requires no use of the state run primary. Primary proponents are largely supportive of these flexible ideas, but only as a second option. They will vote for a straight Primary first. The end result is that if SCC selects a party run option, I will have enough support from reformers, and primary proponents to do something other than a 13 hour convention.
There are other hindrances to what you suggested in the RPV party plan mostly dealing with timing. These hindrances are hard to change, but still much easier to change than state law.
Paul, I like and respect you but am dead set against conventions BECAUSE the system set up here in Virginia IS so unfair, dishonest and non-transparent. Per the SPP – it’s meant to be that way. Might make right – whoever is in CONTROL gets to make the rules.
April 2016 State GOP Convention. The state-party’s successful installation of slate of pro-Cruz delegates to attempt to STEAL the nomination from Donald Trump at the National Convention.
The RPV leadership acted cleverly but very unfairly to attempt to overturn the primary results. Remember the delegate who sued to ‘Free the delegates’? All brrought about by convention manipulations.
Some people think we’re in disarray now. This is nothing like the fury and rage of us VA Trump supporters after April 2016 Convention.
Some Corey Stewart supporters, like me, might be disappointed Corey lost, but we respect and at least know it was a fair and honest process – a primary. Where many Republicans got to choose.
Conventions aren’t fair and they aren’t honest. They’re exclusionary and top ruled.
I’m going to suggest something that you may not have considered: Even if there are enough votes for a party run process, there aren’t enough votes to pass a traditional convention call. The Primary supporters will vote against a traditional convention call, and I and a handful of holdouts can prevent a 13 hour monstrosity. We didn’t do this in August 2016 because the primary vote passed. Had the primary vote failed you would have seen a very different convention in 2017.
I have not forgotten Beau “Boom goes the dynamite!” Correll. And you may remember I wrote about how absurd his lawsuit was.
I was the first to voice the concerns about the state convention publicly weeks before the April Convention with hundreds of witnesses, and I was a Cruz supporter.
Wait for my part two regarding Saturday’s SCC meeting and you and I might be back on the same page.
What’s hilarious is that the Trumpkins think they had the right to choose the national delegate slate just because Trump won a plurality in an open (thanks again, VCN!) primary.
You said, “The state-party’s successful installation of slate of pro-Cruz delegates to attempt to STEAL the nomination from Donald Trump at the National Convention.”
Isn’t it funny how each person that wanted to run as a Congressional Delegate to the RNC Convention had to fill out a form and pay a fee and all by a deadline in EACH Congressional Districts? The deadline for filing was sometime in late January, I think. Well before anyone knew for sure who the nominee was going to be. Each Congressional District had three Delegate positions that people could be elected to go to the RNC Convention in Cleveland. Then those same people running to be the Delegates from EACH Congressional Districts had to get enough people to vote for them at EACH of the District Conventions. All the while those that were running to be a Delegate to the RNC Convention were paying for their own campaign and travel expenses before they were elected. And, all of those people running for the Congressional District RNC Delegates positions could PUBLICLY announce who they were supporting or they could chose to not say who they were going to vote for BEFORE they were elected, IF it was a brokered Convention.
So do you REALLY STILL think that the “state-party” directly organized EACH person to run, in EACH Congressional District, that is 11 Districts statewide, and then DIRECTED EACH voter to vote for those people, and all of that was “organized” and a plan put in place sometime in January of 2016 in order “to attempt to STEAL the nomination from Donald Trump at the National Convention?”
And if you want to say that State wide elected RNC Delegates that were selected by a Committee, and each Committee member was appointed by the District Chairman, and out of about 90 that applied to be the State wide Delegates and then they were voted on by the Convention Delegates in Harrisonburg at the State Convention, were the ones that were “selected” in order to “attempt to steal the nomination.” There were only 13 of them, while there were 33 that were elected at the District Conventions. So how are 13 people going to “steal the nomination from Donald Trump?
Here is another fact. We, as a group, as RNC Delegates in Cleveland, NEVER actually voted in the Nomination Process in Cleveland at the RNC Convention. The number of the Delegates that would “represent” each Candidate was just read from the vote totals from each states nomination process. So how was the “nomination”“attempted” to be “steal” (stolen) when there was no actual vote ever taken in Cleveland by the WHOLE 2473 RNC Delegates?
Time to move on.
I don’t consider the process fair at all. How is it fair that the establishment threw cash at one of their own, which allowed Ed to buy the election? When you have to spend 3 times what your opponent spent to squeak out the narrowest of victories, plain and simple, in my opinion you purchased the election. It’s all legal as far as I know, but still it’s a corrupt process in my opinion. In countries where citizens have affordable healthcare, our political
finance system will get you a long term in a jail cell. There is a connection, believe it.
Just three days after the primary, what appears to be a questionable poll result was already being plastered in the media. The very same media where Ed has been throwing establishment dollars for months buying advertising. There may be media outlets that reported the questionable poll results who have no connection to Gillespie dollars, but I haven’t seen them.
So, how is that fair?????
Corey didn’t do too badly in the 2013 Convention. If it hadn’t been for EW Jackson and that great convention speech, Corey might have been the Lt. Governor nominee.
Seems they are scared to death that what they call “less informed” voters will eventually burst their bubble…..
Oh I get it, you are already trying to block Corey from future statewide office. The primary we just had was fair and square and each candidate was able to take his or her case to the actual voters. Image that. And if Frank Wagner’s people wanted to vote for him, then so be it. We have more than 2 choices in life.
You must be confusing me with someone else. I haven’t written a bad word about Stewart and I lick no one’s boots. My motives are not hidden. I think primaries sacrifice flexibility and free association to the government.
I am going by the track record of this blog as a whole. You All, as in Jeanine, and several other writers.
Just curious, if TBE is so horrible, why do you still read it?