If the Republican Party of Virginia learned anything from Tuesday’s losses it should be that they need to ditch the convention system. The party’s decision to use a one day meeting of less than 10,000 people has not helped it yield quality candidates.
Let’s review who the convention system has given the Virginia Republicans over the years – Mike Farris, Ollie North, Jay Katzen, Mark Earley, Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson.
What do they all have in common? Oh yeah, they all lost. Some narrowly and some convincingly. But with the exception of Earley all were in races that the party could have won.
Why would a primary have been better? You have to appeal to a larger audience. A convention draws less than 10,000 people, because most folks don’t have the time or money to give up their weekend to go to Richmond or Virginia Beach.
In contrast a primary requires far less of a time commitment from people, instead of giving up a weekend people give up an hour on a Tuesday (at most). And because Virginia does not have party registration it is more likely that independent-minded voters or people who never attend Republican committee meetings will take part.
This forces candidates to have to compete for the support of more moderate voters instead of only focusing on the ideological base of a party.
Will the Republican Party of Virginia switch from a convention to a primary? If they are serious about winning statewide again they will.