By Chris Godbey
The 6th District in Virginia has always been a contentious Republican Committee with a strong organization focused on conventions as a nominating process. There are sound reasons for Republicans to prefer a convention. Not only are they cheaper to the taxpayer with the cost going to the party hosting it as opposed to having to include a primary ballot, but they also serve as a way to make sure that Republican voices come together to decide on the strongest candidate to represent their collective interest. So it was no surprise with Judicial Chair Congressman Bob Goodlatte stepping down that the committee would look to have a convention to nominate their next Republican Congressman.
What has been a shock has been the blatant electioneering that has been conducted by shady backroom insiders that are stealing an election and the constitutional right of the voters on the 6th District Republican Committee. What began as stated favoritism has ruptured into unlawful practices including secret meetings to conduct official calls, placing mail-in deadlines on Federal holidays, and disregarding the rules which they have voted to govern the process. This is something that is seen in banana republics in corrupt third world elections and has no place in the United States.
Benjamin Franklin, upon exiting “Independence Hall,” was seen to remark that we have, “…a Republic, if you can keep it.” Well, given the current state of affairs in the 6th District in Virginia I would argue that we have failed to uphold that simple tenant.
The real issue that has come to light with this dumpster fire of a nominating process is the fact that more than half of the 6th District committee members seem to individually support one candidate. In their zeal to ensure that a convention—which should be open to all Republicans to nominate their chosen candidate — they have completely shut down the process for all but those voters who are most informed about what must be done to vote.
As such, the reaction that I have received in VFW halls, farmer’s markets, and other community events has been one of shock and dismay that while they have voted consistently in Republican elections all their lives, they will not get an opportunity for their voice to be heard in this election. The true dismay has come from veterans, who feel as if the very thing that they have taken an oath to protect is being stripped away from them in the night through means of misinformation and arbitrary deadlines.
While intra-party squabbling is to be expected, there has to be a limit when it comes to denying people a fair opportunity to participate in the most basic of civic responsibilities. The voters of the 6th District should demand that the opaque nature of this nomination be tossed out and the opportunity afforded to everyone who wishes to participate. If that means resetting the process and adding names to a primary ballot, a primary ballot which will already be printed and distributed for a statewide primary in June, then so be it.
The Republican Party that I joined is one which I’ve always considered a “Big Tent” party, looking to bring in individuals from all walks of life. Yet this nominating process has led me to believe that the leaders of the 6th District of Virginia would rather return to the ways of smoky backrooms than an open process.
This is exactly why Millennials, now the largest voting bloc in the country, appear to be leaving the party in droves. We are tired of the inauthentic platitudes offered by political elite without providing any solutions! The only way to stem the tide is to have a better conversation about the issues that matter and allow for easier participation. That, apparently, is lost on the cabal running the 6th District Republican Committee. Not only have they forgone their responsibilities to the party, they’ve actively worked to limit democracy in Virginia.
Chris Godbey is a Republican political consultant who has worked on campaigns domestically and internationally as communications, grassroots, and digital consultant. He has served as an election observer in South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Caucuses. Currently he is campaign manager for 6th District congressional candidate Chaz Haywood.