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State Republicans Ditching Primary Election for 2021 Gubernatorial Nomination Process

Republican Party of Virginia

Virginia Republicans will hold a convention rather than a primary next year to determine the party's candidate for governor.

Virginia Republicans have a longstanding love affair with conventions. Unlike primaries, which allow anybody to vote -- even people who are not Republicans -- conventions allow for a measure of control by party leaders over who gets nominated.

Republican strategist Dan Scandling says nobody should really be all that surprised that the Republican State Central Committee believes a convention will benefit former House Speaker Kirk Cox.

"Kirk is a longstanding, old-time Republican part of the party apparatus who has the consultants, who has the history," he says. "That's who state central is. It's Richmond. That should come as no shock at all that Kirk and state central want a convention over a primary."

Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan, now at George Mason University's Schar School, says many Republicans who would have otherwise supported a primary switched their vote this year. He says the move towards a convention wasn't just to help Kirk Cox. It was also aimed at undercutting his opposition.

"This year we saw a coalition of conservatives and establishment Republicans opt for a convention in an attempt to eliminate a far-right candidate, namely Senator Amanda Chase," Ramadan explains.

Earlier this year, Chase left the Senate Republican Caucus. She’s still a Republican, but no longer a member of the caucus, which has led to strained relationships between the senator and Republican leaders.

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.
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