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A mere two weeks ago on this page, we opined that there was not one, nor two, but five separate reasons Virginia Republicans had reason for hope that they would be rewarded with success in statewide elections this fall.
Some in the GOP rejoiced: They haven’t been used to hearing in the media that they have a shot.
But let’s hope they made it all the way to the bottom of the editorial, where we put in a major caveat.
Republicans will have a chance at success in the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, as well as the House of Delegates, we said, only “if the Virginia GOP doesn’t self-immolate while heading toward Nov. 2.”
Which is, at the moment, what the Republicans leadership appears not just able, but even willing, to do.
To back up just a little bit . . .
After months of intra-party squabbling within the Republican State Central Committee (comprised of party poobahs from across the commonwealth), it appeared that the GOP had a plan in place for nominating its statewide candidates.
But the proposal to hold drive-through convention voting at Liberty University in Lynchburg hit a snag when the university said, hey, we didn’t agree to this and we’re not sure we can accommodate it.
Not only did that leave the state GOP leadership with egg on its face, it also sent them scurrying back to try and find an alternative, whether a single statewide location or multiple voting sites. And with so much internecine warfare among those who purportedly lead the state party, that hasn’t been easy.
“Easy” would have been turning the entire shebang over to the state government by opting for a June primary, like Democrats are doing.
The problem with that? In a winner-take-all contest, it was a possibility, perhaps even a probability, that state Sen. Amanda Chase would have come away the Republican gubernatorial candidate.
And that would have sunk the party’s prospects right there – whether fairly or unfairly, Chase is too easily caricatured as a far-right publicity hound, not a serious option for governor.
A convention, no matter its ultimate format, is likely to include an instant-runoff feature, something that probably would make Chase (who has solid support but a decided ceiling to it) an also-ran when the dust settles.
Fair? Nope. But who said politics was supposed to be fair? It’s a contact sport, not a fancy-dress ball.
One fact has emerged from the rubble of this debacle. It’s become clear to all that there are plenty in GOP statewide leadership posts who seem far more interested in protecting their own turf and scoring points against others than finding a path forward to victory for a party whose “brand” is in need of a top-to-bottom spring cleaning.