By Senator Mark Obenshain
What a great convention! For those of you that attended, I hope you had a chance to stop by my hospitality suite on Friday night. We were packed all night long, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with so many dedicated Republicans. You could really feel the enthusiasm, the intensity, and the commitment to victory this November!
In the whirlwind of convention activities, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with everything that takes place, and most of us (myself included!) aren’t taking notes when nominating committee reports are read. So for you political junkies out there, I’m providing a run-down of the results from Saturday’s convention. This is inside baseball, and won’t be of interest to everyone, but I offer it up for those of you who have been dying to know who the party is sending to the national convention, and what State Central Committee decided about the nominating method for 2013.
As you know, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) met in convention to elect the party’s national committeeman and national committeewoman, thirteen at-large delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention, and two at-large presidential electors. The day before, at a meeting of the RPV State Central Committee, the party took up the method of nomination for candidates in 2013. Here’s what happened.
Primary vs. Convention
In December 2011, State Central Committee adopted a primary as the method for nominating candidates for statewide office in 2013. On Friday, the Committee reversed its decision, adopting a convention by a vote of 47-31. This decision will affect the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. Since the nomination of Virginia’s first Republican Governor in the modern era in 1969, eight gubernatorial nominees have been selected at convention and three at primaries. (As a candidate for Attorney General, this decision affects me, but I was not involved in it. I was prepared to run—and, with your help, win!—in either a primary or a convention.)
Incumbent Party Chairman Pat Mullins faced no opposition, and was reelected by acclamation (that is, by a unanimous voice vote) at Saturday’s convention.
National Committeeman and Committeewoman
Morton Blackwell, our National Committeeman, and Kathy Terry, our National Committeewoman, were both reelected at convention. Morton Blackwell, who has represented Virginia on the Republican National Committee since 1988 and has been a member of the RNC Executive Committee since 2004, convincingly defeated challenger Shelby McCurnin, while Kathy Terry, who is completing her first term at the RNC, fended off challenger Donna Holt by a mere 4.13 weighted votes.
To put that in perspective through an example from one of my localities, each Rockingham County delegate present at the convention controlled 15.6 weighted votes, almost four times the margin between the two candidates. Every vote counts!
By virtue of his office, Party Chairman Pat Mullins also represents Virginia on the National Committee, with the 168 members of the RNC comprising the national leadership of the Republican Party.
National Convention Delegates and Alternates
Virginia selects its delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention through a modified winner-take-all system, in which 33 district delegates are bound to presidential candidates based on the primary results in their congressional district (three delegates each), 13 delegates are selected at-large at state convention (bound when a candidate wins a majority, proportional otherwise), and three are reserved for party officials.
Ten of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts went for Mitt Romney in the primary, and their combined thirty delegates, chosen at district conventions, are bound to him. The 3rd District is sending three delegates bound to Ron Paul. At state convention, the nominations committee proposed a negotiated slate of thirteen delegates and thirteen alternates from among the 85 who filed for delegate and 48 who filed for alternate.
Since Romney won 59% of the primary vote, all thirteen delegates elected at the state convention on Saturday are bound to Romney on the first ballot (only one ballot is anticipated), though the Ron Paul campaign, which demonstrated significant strength at district conventions as well as the state convention, succeeded in securing many of those slots for Paul supporters in hopes of influencing the party platform. The nominating committee’s slate was adopted by acclamation, and is as follows:
• The Hon. Bob McDonnell
• The Hon. Bill Bolling
• The Hon. Ken Cuccinelli
• The Hon. Jim Gilmore
• The Hon. Mark Dudenhefer
• Caleb Coulter
• Shirley Forbes
• Kay Gunter
• Jared Hendrix
• Matthew Hurt
• Chris Stearns
• John Tate
• Marie Quinn
• The Hon. Tom Davis
• Trevor Benson
• Chuck Cunningham
• Hilary Griffith
• Aleyda Kasten
• Linda Kivy-Porter
• Dwayne McIntyre
• Lori-Ann Miller
• Mikki Miller
• John Salm
• Ernesto Sampson
• Pete Snyder
• Wendell Walker
Convention Committee Assignments
For the national convention, each state appoints two of its delegates each to the Rules, Platform, Credentials, and Arrangements. These are, of course, highly coveted appointments, as the members of these committee guide the manner in which the convention operates, write the party’s platform and the resolutions coming before the convention, and certify delegations, and the like. At convention, the following delegates were named to these committees:
• Rules: Morton Blackwell and Anne Gentry
• Platform: Kathy Terry and Chris Stearns
• Credentials: Jo Thoburn and Mike Rothfeld
• Arrangements: Evan Draim and Erin Smith
Virginia is entitled to thirteen presidential electors, one chosen at each district convention and two—Gary Byler and Cortland Putbrese—elected at-large at Saturday’s state convention from a field of seventeen candidates. All electors, chosen at both district and state convention, are legally bound to support their party’s nominee.
This, of course, only scratches the surface of what transpired at the convention, as a convention is so much more than a few votes. It’s a convention hall full of Republicans revving themselves up for this year’s campaigns. It’s mingling, visiting hospitality suites, meeting candidates, and listening to inspiring speeches. I can’t capture the full atmosphere of the convention here, but I did want to provide a quick synopsis of the convention’s actions for those of you who live and breathe politics.
With primaries and convention behind us, our 2012 field is set and our party leadership is in place. Only one thing remains: to win in November. I look forward to standing beside you as we work to defeat Barack Obama and Tim Kaine, and to return our Republican congressmen to continue representing us in Washington!