By Matthew C. Ames
Chairman, Fairfax County Republican Committee
My concerns are based entirely on practical considerations arising out of Fairfax County’s size and past practice, and are not intended to address the advantages or disadvantages of conventions vs. primaries. I have a number of questions regarding the practical effects in Fairfax County if the SCC chooses a convention, which as far as I know have not been addressed. In this regard, I believe my perspective differs from that of most of your correspondents on this issue.
Here is a summary of my letter [included below]:
- With over 700,000 registered voters and 238 precincts, Fairfax County represents one in seven Virginia voters.
- Because of our size, we have developed practices in the past that would need to be substantially altered if the RPV moves its convention to mid-March.
- Any method adopted by the RPV must be able to accommodate both the largest and the smallest units.
- We have historically held our County convention to elect the County chairman and conduct other party business in late March, which gives us about 90 days to plan and organize the convention after the holidays.
- Holding the RPV Convention on March 19 will force us to move our convention to mid- to late-February, and cut our planning time in half, unless we start during the holidays.
- We have a general election on November 3. We cannot afford any distractions before then, and because of Virginia’s unique election cycle, the only down time our volunteers will have is between Election Day and New Year’s.
- It seems likely that interest in the process, and therefore in our convention, will be much higher than in other years. I have seen no estimates of how many delegates are likely to attend our County convention under the March 19 convention proposal. Without knowing that number, the FCRC cannot plan appropriately. Without knowing that number with some degree of certainty, I think it would be irresponsible for the State Central Committee to approve a mid-March convention process.
- If the potential number of delegates to our convention is large enough – in excess of 2500 or 3000 — there may not be a venue in the County that is large enough to accommodate our convention. The Patriot Center at George Mason University is unlikely to be an option, if only for reasons of cost.
- As far as I know, RPV has not taken any of these concerns into consideration at this point.
Letter to John Whitbeck, Chairman, Republican Party of Virginia