Recently, a debate has ensued to argue the best process to select candidates statewide here in Virginia. Today, the State Central Committee will be meeting at the Advance to discuss the best method for nominating a candidate. Will that method be a primary or a convention?
Granted there are many arguments for and against both nomination methods. There are those who would prefer a primary, because it makes the process run much more efficiently. On the other hand, there are those who would prefer a convention. The reasons include: the fact that it allows camaraderie with other fellow Republicans and allowing more time to hear from the candidates. While I appreciate the viewpoints of both, I am all in favor of the primary as the chief form of nominating a candidate.
My reasons are simple, as I grew up in a state that had closed (note the closed portion) primaries and registration by party. The process was very efficient, and we often had more unity when it came time at the General since everyone worked to get that candidate elected. Granted, there is always some form of drama that accompanied any spirited political race, but this system worked well. Now, I understand that the primary system in Virginia is an open primary that may or may not have a loyalty oath to sign, but this would be much more efficient than finding a central location and elaborate costs to hold a nominating convention.
Typically, primaries are classified as the following: closed (voting by party only) and blanket/open (any party can vote for either party). A primary can be beneficial, as it allows candidates to focus more on the issues. I would favor the closed primary system, as to prevent the Democrats for voting in the election.
With a closed primary, party registration is going to become a necessity. Normally, this is another sore spot for many in the Commonwealth, along with the doubts that the General Assembly would consider such a thing, but we are in the 21st Century now. With the growing population in the Commonwealth, there has never been a better time to consider such a measure. Granted, there will be added costs for party registration and create additional strain on each county/city Board of Elections office.
While the primaries have some negatives in terms of the costs incurred through election poll workers and machine rentals, this would add to the appeals of conventions. Conventions are great for bringing the party together to select a statewide candidate. Not only do they bring people from across the Commonwealth together to nominate a candidate, they also provide a social aspect as well. They allow for networking and a great camaraderie amongst fellow Republicans.
However, while this is great, there are more costs to a convention. First, the location of the convention is costly with the travel costs to the activists hoping to support their candidates. It is also costly to the party, especially since they have to rent out a large facility to hold everyone and find a location central for everyone to travel.
While some will argue that the primary only helped one candidate (Former U.S. Senator John Warner) win statewide office, this does not mean that primaries will not work in the future. I also realize that many might disagree with my viewpoints. It is time for a change, and this change may do our party good in the future.