In the aftermath of the RPV’s scrum last weekend, the party’s chairman, John Whitbeck, said this:
Whitbeck: Before you yell or blog "think about… one thing … Is what I'm about to do going to help us win Virginia in 2016?"
— Travis Fain (@TravisFain) June 27, 2015
Understandable. But the Tweet didn’t reach everyone.
One who missed it is Ken Adams, chairman of the Waynesboro committee. In his after action report, Adams has some rather interesting things to say, including on the lawsuit he’s been pushing against the so-called “incumbent protection act“:
As you may know, the lawsuit to overturn the Incumbent Protection Act asserts that it is blatantly unconstitutional for the Commonwealth of Virginia to grant incumbents the power to decide by themselves the method of their re-nomination. A child can understand that the Constitution does not permit a state law to give a profound election advantage to a special class of politicians.
The debate was heated. Those who sided with the Constitution presented their arguments well. The chairman of the Hampton Committee and the state central representative from Staunton were amazing in their presentations. They were smart, informed and passionate.
The opponents of the Amicus brief, meaning those who support special status for incumbents, were connected directly or indirectly to incumbents. Some of them are even employees of incumbents. Their arguments lacked substance and energy.
I am happy to report that the state central committee approved the proposal to file an Amicus brief to overturn the Incumbent Protection Act.
One’s enemies are always in the pay/thrall/orbit of nefarious forces, it seems.
Rhetoric aside, this is an important lawsuit. The RPV has jumped in with a brief, and arguably, as it has standing, the case may actually reach some sort of resolution. Whether it goes the way the opponents of the act want is up to the courts. In the hands of a lawyer worth his or her salt, they could win. The notion that an incumbent is allowed, by law, to pick a nomination method isn’t just odd, it’s ridiculous.
Just don’t try to tell Eric Cantor that.
But if we are to be consistent — and follow the clear-eyed constitutionalism of Adams’s “child” — then we can also look forward to the Waynesboro committee, the RPV and many others getting fully behind non-partisan redistricting. If it is abhorrent for an incumbent to choose his or her method of re-nomination, it is much worse for incumbents as a class to pick and choose their voters through the ancient practice of Gerrymandering.
I look forward to the coalition fighting for that — left and right, Republicans, Democrats, radicals and revanchists, all working to smite the most powerful edifice of incumbent protection.
And I’ll be waiting a very, very, long time.
The rest of the Adams report reads almost like parody. The party narrowly chose a presidential primary over a
fundraiser convention. It’s safe to assume Mr. Adams is not alone when he says this will lead to mischief:
Open primaries will allow independents and Democrats to participate in the selection of the candidate. Then, the proportional representation among a large field of candidates will cause all candidates to gain only small numbers of delegates to the National Convention.
While the open primaries in the southern states are dividing up their delegates among many candidates, the large liberal states, such as New York, New Jersey and California, will elect their National Convention delegates in single blocs. It is a cunning strategy that may give the establishment another nominee similar to Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. But, such a candidate may very well lose the general election.
I was surprised that there were so many members of the state central committee who supported an open primary. Again, it was the people connected to the establishment who took the liberal position.
I regret to inform you that the liberals won that vote.
Or not. As Paul Goldman and I wrote in the Washington Post earlier in the week, this view of primaries is fantasy:
…as governing body members took their seats for the Primary v. Convention showdown vote, many realized this mantra from self-described “real” conservatives didn’t add up. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan — two conservative icons of modern Republicanism — owed their presidential nominations to the California and New Hampshire primaries, respectively. George W. Bush secured his 2000 nomination by winning Virginia’s presidential primary.
Mere flukes. Or simply part of the much larger picture:
This allowed pro-primary forces to seize the high political ground. They presented themselves as tribunes of the people, advocating a process ensuring much higher participation by the very voters the party needs to win the White House. Every GOP president in the modern era — George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Reagan, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower — was nominated by dominating the primary process. Today’s pampered conservative activists consider them all RINOS. But mainstream Republican voters know better.
And they will show they know better next year, when hundreds of thousands of them head to the polls to vote in the presidential primary.