Home > Campaign 2010, Conservatism/Activism > Rumble in the Fifth

Rumble in the Fifth

I’ve written before that I full expect a number of congressional primaries across the country to become extremely heated affairs as activists attempt to define our party in both 2010 and 2012. One race that I particularly have my eye on is the six (possibly seven) way affair in the Republican primary in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional district. GoDanRiver.com reports that the 5th Congressional District Committee (composed of chairs from the 21 counties, state central representatives, and a few others) will decide from one of four nominating methods on December 12th.

In addition to the nominating process, the party will also decide on the location of a convention — if that is the elected method — as well as local party filing dates and fees. Candidates must also file with the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of raising $5,000.

Watkins said 15 unit chairpersons took a straw vote a few months ago, with 10 voting in favor of a convention. Primaries tend to cost more money, but not necessarily, he said.

“A primary, many people believe, has a bigger access to more people,” he said. “A convention is easier to limit it to just Republicans … You have to decide which you think is a better way to nominate the candidate.”

Given the right-ward tilt of state central seats in the last few years and the fact that a number of county chairs in the area are very conservative, I would put the smart money on a convention. I still tend to prefer conventions, given that they tend to turn out nominees that are close to the activists who will support them through the general. However one county chair pointed out an inconvenient truth that has nagged me since former State Central member Anna Lee pointed it out to me a few years ago when we were both on the State Convention Rules Committee.

Ronnie Mayhew, the chairman of the Pittsylvania County Republicans, said he would vote for a primary Dec. 12 because it is the only method in which military servicemen and women can vote absentee, and because a primary would reach the widest range of voters. Mayhew also said he supported State Sen. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, for the nomination.

I think that there probably should be some allowance for absentee votes–I know that the Democrats currently allow them when they do firehouse primaries. At the time, the best way to reform this glaring inconsistency is to go with primaries. However, I highly doubt we’ll see it any time in the near future.

I expect if it is a convention one or two candidates will drop out before the filing deadline. Bob Holsworth seems to believe that this nominating affair will not be that big of a deal, given Hurt’s large degree of institutional support. However, the article points out Hurt’s biggest fault:

Many grassroots Republicans have been critical of Hurt’s voting record — which includes his 2004 vote in favor of then-Gov. Mark Warner’s massive tax increase.

I strongly suspect that Hurt remains the frontrunner. However, until he can explain that position away and absorb criticism of it, he’s going to continue to get a great deal of heat from Laurence Verga and Fed Kidd Morton, the two most reliably conservative “outsider” candidates in this race. Also a wild-card: Michael McPadden, who seems to be carving out a niche for himself as the standard bearer for Ron Paul Republicans.


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