How to Turn Virginia’s 6th Congressional District GOP Convention Into a Farce

Republicans in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District were already doing their best to turn what should be an utterly safe House seat into a real contest. Now, district leaders are intent on turning their nominating convention into a farce.

When I first wrote about the bizarre machinations underway in the district back in January, Republican committee leaders were giving every appearance they were favoring one of the candidates over all the rest: Cynthia Dunbar, Virginia’s national committeewoman.

It was odd enough that Republicans would seriously consider nominating a candidate who won less than 4 percent of the vote in a 2008 Texas congressional primary. But sometimes there are second acts in politics. Patrick Morrisey, for example, finished last in a 2000 New Jersey congressional primary and just won a Senate primary in West Virginia, where he serves as attorney general. Now he faces Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the general election.

So Dunbar could be seeking her own type of redemption. That’s fine.

But she’s getting plenty of help in that task – so much and so obviously that Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck had to issue a statement calling on district leaders to clean up their act.

At issue: Proposed rules that would bar children from the convention, prevent candidates from campaigning on the convention floor and kicking the press into the rafters.

The worst, however, is a committee threat to deny the credentials of all Rockbridge County delegates because of what Whitbeck called a “clerical error.”

These all come on top of escalating allegations of biasfinancial misdeeds and other deep-in-the-weeds allegations that have dogged the campaign in recent weeks.

Whitbeck and the RPV cannot compel the convention to do anything. Delegates will decide how the convention is run.

But the chairman made it clear the party was ready to step in to “protect our candidates and our delegates in this process should the need arise.”

Whitbeck singled out the convention’s credentials committee, warning that if it denies delegates from Rockbridge County seats at the convention, it should “consult with an attorney immediately.”

“Rest assured,” Whitbeck said, “the Republican Party of Virginia will not expend resources to defend anyone who seeks to disenfranchise delegates.”

Strong words — that should never have to be said.

But they had to be because the 6th District is poised, if its leaders have their way, to run a questionable convention that might produce a controversial nominee.

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