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Virginia Political Parties Mulling Convention Options Amid Pandemic


Political campaigns may be on pause right now because of the coronavirus crisis. But all the deadlines for political parties are still on the calendar.

Republicans and Democrats need to figure out some way to send delegates to political conventions this summer — assuming those conventions meet as expected. Virginia Republicans were planning on meeting in early May for a convention to select delegates. Now they’ve postponed that until late June.

Republican Chairman Jack Wilson says party leaders are talking about figuring out some way to have a virtual convention. But… 

“We’ve got to make sure that how we elect our delegates to the national convention is in accordance with our state party plan or we run the risk of our delegation not being seated at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte,” Wilson explains.

Right now, the party’s rules don’t allow for a virtual convention. And so if they want to do that they’ll need to figure out some way of changing the rules without meeting in person.

Democrats are also trying to navigate their way through this, and party chairwoman Susan Swecker says Democrats are strongly considering some way to have a virtual convention. 

“There is no other way to do it, whether it’s through teleconference or online,: she says. "People don’t want to go out. And we don’t want to put anybody at risk.”

Democrats are scheduled to have their national convention in mid-July in Milwaukee. Republicans are planning to have theirs in late August in Charlotte. For now, both of those are still on — although party leaders are consulting with health officials and the Secret Service.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.