Spires: I got 99 problems and Primaries aren’t one

The Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee will meet on June 27th in Staunton, and will decide the method of nomination for the 2016 election.

For a majority of the history of the commonwealth, this would not be a controversial decision.  Throughout the past in Virginia, we used conventions as the preferred method of nomination for public office. Primaries have only been used as the method of nomination for election for the last twenty years.

We have the opportunity to return to our roots, and to have a nominating convention in 2016.

First, why is this the best option for the citizens of Virginia? The initial reason why the convention is the correct choice is; that Republicans should elect the Republican Nominee. I know that many argue that crossover voting does not comprise a statistically large portion of votes to make a difference in the end result. But any amount of democratic meddling in the selection of our nominations is too much. Virginia only has open primaries, which allows voters to choose which primary they want to vote in. While some argue that it is not abused, it could be used in the future. Having a convention allows the party to ensure that only Republicans are electing Republicans.

Second, being the party that prides itself on fiscal responsibility, how can we expect the citizens to pay for a private club to elect its officers? Like it or not a political party is a private organization; a primary election costs the taxpayers of the Commonwealth millions of dollars each time they occur. Republicans love to beat the drum on a regular basis about how when we get the opportunity to govern, that we are good stewards of public resources. Shifting the burden of paying for the nomination of candidates from the political parties to the Commonwealth is not only a bad use of funds, but it is unethical. The money that would be spent on the primary could be better used in public safety, higher end and our road system.

Lastly, the Convention serves as a great opportunity to further peoples involvement with the party. One of the first events I attended after getting involved with the 2008 election, was the convention in 2009. The networking, hospitality suites, and fun had at the convention cemented my interest in the Republican Party. The Advance and the conventions both serve as two wonderful events each year when Republicans from all around the Commonwealth are able to get together and discuss the merits of what we believe. The convention serves as another outlet in which the grassroots can get together with Republican officials and other activists to get to know each other better. Unlike in a primary in which dirty laundry is splattered to the general public, a convention attempts to keep it in the family. During the recent battle between Speaker Howell and Susan Stimpson, mud was slung by both parties to residents of the district and was talked about around the commonwealth. When you have a convention, the debate tends to be more civil and less public. It allows for less collateral damage to damage our candidates during the general election.

Virginia needs to regain its position as the premier Commonwealth in the union. Having a nationally televised convention in 2016, will bring plenty of media attention to the Commonwealth and RPV. With rising stars like Scott Rigell and Barbra Comstock, the party is turning a corner to a more brighter future. The decision for 2016 has yet to be decided, and there is still time to have SCC make the right decision.

lewis_csC.S. Lewis once said “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

Brian Schoeneman argues that conventions are not welcoming and are designed to test your patience. He must have been to a different convention then I have attended. As a college student with pockets that aren’t very deep, a convention has served as an outlet where I can make a difference. I don’t have thousands of dollars to donate to a candidate. I don’t have property in which I can place signage for a candidate. I can’t donate retail space for a candidate to open an office. But I have the ability to convince my friends and family to attend a convention to vote for my guy because he is the right person for the position.

The best course of action for SCC is to be good fiduciary stewards of the Commonwealth’s residents and to vote for a convention in 2016. Conventions will allow for the little guy to have a real say in the method of nomination, will allow republicans to nominate republicans and will serve as a place for the grassroots to get further involved with the party. The majority of State Central Representatives were elected on a pro convention platform, and they are obligated to keep their word. They should follow the precedent set by the last convention, and return to the method used for super-majority of the Commonwealths history. The convention will serve as a springboard to the public to show we live what we preach, by being financially responsible.

Tyler Spires is a longtime Republican activist in the Hampton Roads area.

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