On June 27, 2015, State Central Committee (SCC) Republican officials will gather in Staunton, Virginia, to decide which method of nomination shall be adopted to select our nominee for President on November 8, 2016. Regardless of one’s opinion of the value of conventions vs primaries, the sheer number of Party officials and administrative offices to be determined next year must be included in the calculus. These offices and nominations are to be completed according to the Party Plan, which the SCC is charged with implementing.
Although there are many and varied philosophical and political reasons for a primary or a convention, 2016 promises to be a very active year for Republicans. The method whereby we select our nominee for President must be the preeminent task of the SCC. All business must be conducted and completed within a fairly tight time table, and adding to the mix is our popular annual RPV Advance which will be held in December. Completing these tasks is a daunting undertaking, but will be further complicated if the Convention method is adopted to nominate our candidate for President.
Here is part of why fitting in a convention will be a costly as well as logistically intimidating undertaking.
In brief, the RPV must hold a Quadrennial State Convention in order to nominate electors-at-large to the Electoral College and elect delegates-at-large as well as alternates-at-large to the Republican National Convention (RNC). In addition, a District Convention is to be held in order to nominate an elector to the Electoral College and electing Alternates to the RNC. A Biennial District Convention must be held to elect members of the State Central Committee; each of our 11 Congressional District committees, each Legislative District Committee; and each Unit Committee. Each of our local Units must select their party officials for 2016, and we will select a Chairman of the RPV. The litany is long and complicated, made more complex if we hold a convention amid these other requirements.
Who comprise the SCC? A number of people, some from various entities, including the Chairman of RPV; one 1st Vice Chairman; two Vice Chairmen, from both the Eastern and the Western Districts; a National Committee member; the ex officio President and two elected members from various groups, including the College Republicans and Young Republicans; 4 members from the General Assembly (2 from each body); the State Treasurer and State Secretary are also voting members, but selected by SCC. The Virginia Federation of Republican Women also has representation on the SCC. Local Units will also elect their respective Chairman, and this is most often done, in accord with the Party Plan, by Mass Meeting.
Each of these groups and entities must comply with whatever time table adopted by SCC on June 27th. How the various components of the RPV will able to conform to the marching orders determined by the SCC is yet to be determined. What is clear is that the adoption of a convention will further complicate a truncated and difficult schedule. Adding to the difficulties is the fact that unless Virginia selects our nominee for President in accord with and in competition with our other states, whatever method and whichever nominee we select, will be moot. Our other states will have determined that for us.
The philosophical reasons to hold a primary are compelling. Primaries do not disenfranchise voters who, through neither fault nor choice of their own, are unable to attend a convention but nevertheless remain steadfast in commitment to Republican values and candidates. Only primaries provide for absentee voting. Any other method specifically disallows any form of proxy balloting.
Among those who may be unable to attend a convention include, but not limited to, the ill; the elderly; parents of young children; parents of teenage children who may require adult supervision; anyone who is hospitalized, or undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy or dialysis; those for whom Saturday is the Sabbath; any prohibition by a religious order, negating necessary travel on Friday, in order to attend a Saturday convention, is not possible; the frail; the elderly; the poor; anyone who is employed on Saturday; and any member of our Armed Forces who is deployed is therefore unable to travel to attend a convention.
Note that recent submissions to the Party Plan to mitigate or remedy this issue are hollow and do not provide for our men and women who serve our nation within non-uniformed organizations.
Each and all of these respective individuals and entities would be able to participate if a primary is selected as the method for selecting our nominee for President because only the primary allows absentee balloting.
Gerrie Smith has been a political activist in the Commonwealth of Virginia for decades, following in the path of her Revolutionary War ancestors. As a grass roots activist, she has served in leadership positions within the GOP as well as on various community advisory boards. McLean is her home, and the principles proclaimed in the GOP Creed exemplify her beliefs. Follow her on Twitter: @smithgerrie