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State GOP will vote on how to nominate 2012 U.S. Senate pick

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

The Republican Party of Virginia's governing board will decide this month whether to choose its 2012 nominee for U.S. Senate through a primary or at a convention. While that decision seem like mere internal party machinations, its repercussions are far-reaching.

Historically, conventions almost always produce the most conservative candidate. Efforts to appeal to party activists can create complications for the eventual nominee, who has to run in all regions of the state, including left-leaning Northern Virginia.

Former U.S. representative Tom Davis, a moderate, spent years preparing to run for the Senate but abandoned those plans in 2008 when he was unable to get the state party to hold a primary instead of a convention.

At least three Republicans are interested in running against Democrat Sen. Jim Webb -- if he seeks reelection -- former senator George Allen; Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors; and Del. Bob Marshall (Prince William).

On the surface, a convention is likely to favor Stewart or Marshall, considered to be the more conservative candidates, over Allen, who has name recognition as a former governor and senator and would be able to amass more money for an eventual run.

The Republican State Central Committee, which has more than 100 members, will vote on a slew of proposals -- including whether to have a convention or a primary -- at the annual GOP Advance in McLean, Nov. 19-20. Members will likely hear from interested candidates before then.

Stewart, who plans to seek reelection next year as county chairman, said he favors a convention but does not plan on talking to committee members.

Marshall, who nearly defeated former governor Jim Gilmore for the Senate nomination at the 2008 convention, said he favors a primary because conventions leave too many opportunities for errors. Marshall, who told us this week that he is still considering a run, said he plans to write a letter to Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, expressing his concerns.

Allen and his spokesman did not return calls for comment this week. He has yet to say if he is running -- or when he will announce.

In 2008, activists at the convention voted for Jeffrey M. Frederick, a conservative House of Delegates member, over former lieutenant governor John H. Hager as chairman of the state party. In 2009, they voted for Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative senator, over former federal prosecutor John Brownlee and David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, for attorney general.

Efforts to replace conventions with primaries have failed because many members of the party say they fear that Democrats and independents would cross party lines in an attempt to influence the outcome of their primary.

The State Central Committee also will decide this month whether to adopt Cuccinelli's proposal to dramatically raise filing fees for statewide candidates seeking the party's nomination at political conventions.

They will vote on whether candidates for statewide office, including U.S. Senate, will pay fees of up to $25,000 and convention delegates will begin paying a mandatory fee.

By Anita Kumar  | November 5, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Corey Stewart, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Webb, Thomas M. Davis III, U.S. Senate  
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Next: Fairfax GOP head questions vote totals in Connolly-Fimian race


I'm glad Kathryn Graham is not around to see how poorly The Washington Post is written. Check the second sentence: "While that decision seem like mere internal party machinations, the repercussions are far-reaching." Either poor grammar skills or worse yet proofreading skills have made The Washington Post into a two-bit rag now. How sad they cannot find appropriate talent to fill their reporter positions.

Posted by: Jim-McLean | November 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I think that it would be better for the Old Dominion if the Repubs had a convention.

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | November 5, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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