I am not a blogger and rarely, if ever, make comments on blogs. However, this issue is too important for me to let it pass without weighing in with my own perspective. I have said this verbally to other Republicans and I’ll say it here now: if the Republican Party of Virginia chooses to go with a presidential convention, it will be the same as putting a gun in the mouth of the party for many reasons – not the least of which is that Virginia will be the laughing stock of the nation yet again. However, that is far from the main reason that I oppose a presidential convention.
The main reason is because a convention will disenfranchise too many people who are paying attention and would like to vote for their favorite candidate for President. A convention is a time and money investment that many people simply can’t make. First, you must attend a mass meeting to run for and be elected as a delegate to the convention. Then you must make travel arrangements and, depending on your distance from the venue, you will need to book a hotel room for one or two nights, again depending on the length of your trip — not to mention the length of the convention. In 2013 it ran until past midnight. Back in the 80s I attended one in Norfolk that ran till past 1:00am. That kind of takes the gilt off the lily for a lot of folks who are Republican voters but not the “party-hearty-till-all-hours” type. To force Virginia Republicans to attend a day- and possibly night-long convention out of town shows small respect for their voting rights and disenfranchises way too many people who cannot make the trip.
I worked the 9th Congressional District for two decades on behalf of various statewide candidates and know first-hand the difficulty some folks had in getting to state conventions. For the coalfield folks it’s just too darn long a trip. Many people work on weekends and can’t get off; young families with babies and young children decide that it’s too much hassle to bring the whole crew; the military can’t participate, even if they are local, due to regulations -– and quite frankly, is that a group that we as Republicans would want to deny the vote? People who are elderly, infirm, hospitalized, handicapped … but all are GOP voters with an opinion. They can cast an absentee ballot in a primary but MUST be there in person for a convention. Remember, when you cut down the size of the turnout you don’t know whose votes you’re leaving on the table.
Another reason for a primary is that a primary will give us a larger GOP base from which to cull voter information that will be critical to us over the next few election cycles. There should be little to no concern about Democrat crossover as Hilary has competition (laughable competition admittedly in the face of our full and strong GOP bench but it does mean a race for her) and they have already decided on a primary.
I enjoy conventions immensely but there is a time for them and statewide/federal offices isn’t it. However, nominating and electing our GOP party officers is and I do believe that conventions should be used for those races. Over the years I have come to realize that conventions are an insular world that denies the general public Republicans the opportunity to cast a ballot. And because a convention is only a fraction of the GOP electorate who are the “insiders, paid staff, and full-tilt volunteers,” we do not get a candidate who has been well tested by having to run a full primary campaign appealing to the entire GOP. If we have any hope of carrying Virginia for the GOP nominee in ’16 we had better have a primary and let the cream, whoever that might be, rise to the top. Enough damage has been done to Virginia’s credibility and it’s time to get serious about winning again.
Primary – YES.
Trixie Averill has been a long-time activist and volunteer for Republican candidates, serving for 16 years on RPV’s State Central Committee including as Western Vice Chairwoman, then as chairman of the 6th Congressional District, and Virginia State Director for Americans for Prosperity. Throughout the years she has worked numerous campaigns including George W. Bush, George Allen, Bob McDonnell, Jim Gilmore, and Bill Bolling. Currently the vice-chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, Trixie is also serving her third term on the Virginia Tourism Corporation Board of Directors. A military mom, her son Marcus served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to the Roanoke Valley. Trixie and husband Dan live in Roanoke County. They are the parents of two grown children, and enjoy their three grandchildren and two happy Westies.