UPDATED: Virginia GOP chooses primary over convention for 2012 senate race
Virginia's Republican Party will hold a primary to nominate its candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, not a convention.
The GOP's State Central Committee decided on a primary Saturday while meeting at the Republican Advance in McLean (That's the party's annual retreat, so named because they believe the party doesn't retreat, only advance. Get it?)
The vote is a sign of support for former governor and senator George Allen, who has said he is weighing an attempt to regain the seat he lost to U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) in 2006. A primary is widely believed to favor Allen because he has strong name recognition throughout the state and would have the easiest time raising money, a significant advantage in a primary.
A convention might have favored other candidates whom die-hard Republican convention delegates might have perceived as more conservative. Those potential candidates include Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), Prince William Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart and Bert Mizusawa, a Hampton Roads businessman who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Congress this year.
Stewart had said he favored a convention; Marshall said he preferred a primary. Allen did not weigh in on the issue heading into the Advance.
Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the party, said advocates of both nomination processes were well organized at Saturday's meeting.
"It was debated thoroughly," he said.
The GOP has used both processes to nominate statewide candidates in recent years. In 2009, Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli were chosen to run for office at a convention. Likewise, the party chose former governor Jim Gilmore as its nominee for the senate in 2008 at a convention. But in 2005, the GOP nominated statewide candidates through a primary.
UPDATE: In a separate vote, members of the state central committee also rejected a dramatic increase in filing fees for statewide candidates seeking the party's nomination at conventions and delegates attending conventions.
The vote is a victory for Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who had said he feared raising the filing fee would discourage unlikely candidates from running for office. The move had been sought by Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R), who proposed raising the fees to $50,000 for candidates for governor or senate and $25,000 for lieutenant governor or attorney general candidates.
His logic was that the party could not afford to hold conventions without the higher fees. When the party holds primaries, taxpayers foot the bill. Conventions, he contended, are far better for less well-funded candidates--even with higher filing fees--because those candidates might be unable to raise the vastly larger sums necessary to mount a statewide primary campaign. The issue became a bit moot, however--at least for the moment--with the party's selection of a primary instead of a convention for the 2012 senate race.
Rosalind S. Helderman
| November 20, 2010; 8:05 PM ET
Categories: Bill Bolling, Bob Marshall, Corey Stewart, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Gilmore III, James Webb, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, U.S. Senate
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