My very simple and brief thoughts on this:
(1) Until we can close the primaries, the chance of non-Republican contagion is too serious a risk to bear (think Operation Chaos).
(2) No one benefits more or less in a convention. It’s just different.
(3) There should not be a “poll tax” to participate in the convention — period.
(4) Primaries and conventions have their roles and benefits, to be sure… but even if we had closed primaries, my vote would still be for a convention, because I believe they give us the most conservative candidates who can win.
(5) The idea that conventions give us candidates too conservative to compete and win (Gillespie ’14?) and that primaries give us sane and rational candidates (Brat ’14?) is preposterous. Stop that.
(6) …and the idea that all conservatives support primaries, and all libertarian Rand Paul types support conventions is ludicrous. Stop that.
(7) Primaries and conventions cost the same from the perspective of the campaigns. You’ll spend $1 million in Virginia either way. Taxpayers have to pick up the tab in a primary; RPV has to pick up the tab in a convention — and typically, RPV makes money in conventions (typically).
Personally, I think an Iowa Caucus model would work well for RPV, giving us all the advantages of the “straw poll” atmosphere (and keeping Virginia relevant) while doing the heavy lifting of selecting delegates for a later convention date. Sure, it’s not quite a primary… but the only reason we’re talking about fast tracking this and moving up that is to make Virginia relevant. Given our position of importance for 2016, imitating the Iowa caucus would accomplish all of those goals, give locals the chance to drive to the courthouse rather than to Richmond (or wherever), and make a national splash.
That’s right folks. Iowa selects delegates by convention at the end of the day.
…and so should we.
Consider this too. Should the State Central Committee decide to do a primary, RPV will have to hold a convention anyway to select a new chairman. Better to have that in an environment where the fullest possible spectrum of voters can be present rather than those who are merely invested in their SCC seats, if that makes sense. Plus, RPV will make more money on voluntary contributions as well.
I am very much concerned about rumors of a “poll tax” being instituted. Yes, it is untested ground… but it’s not ground that ought to be tested, folks. I am beyond firm on this question: we do not and should not charge people a fee to vote.
So there it is. My US$0.02 FWIW. Conventions or bust.
P.S. — There’s a lot of talk about a “deal” to do a primary this year and a convention the next. Ain’t happening. Ask Bill Bolling how deals work…
UPDATE: Russ Moulton — dean of the conservatives — posts on the pros and cons of a convention vs. a primary:
The Republican Party of Virginia will be holding Conventions next year to elect our delegates anyway. The question the RPV State Central Committee will be deciding on June 27 is how to bind those delegates (i.e., by a state-run open primary, or by a party-run Convention). I encourage you to contact your member of the State Central Committee right away and encourage them to vote for binding our delegates at the 2016 Convention.