The Virginia GOP Gubernatorial Convention Just Got More Interesting

Virginia Republicans now have two more gubernatorial candidates to choose from — Glenn Youngkin and Sergio de la Peña. Their entry complicates things for the candidates already in the race, particularly because the state party opted for a convention rather than a primary.

Remember: Party leaders chose the convention as a way to deter and defeat self-described “Trump in heels” Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield) and boost Del. Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights).

It worked — briefly — as Chase first said she would run as an independent before changing her mind to enter the convention.

As long as the convention was just a choice between Chase and Cox, there still wasn’t really a question about the outcome. Cox would be the nominee.

Add Youngkin and de la Peña to the mix, and the potential rises for all sorts of convention high jinks.

Republicans could have chosen a primary. But they can be as messy and anxiety-filled as conventions. In the 2017 Republican primary, Ed Gillespie narrowly defeated Corey A. Stewart — exposing both Gillespie’s weakness and boosting Stewart’s (successful) bid for the Republican Senate nomination in 2018.

Conventions are supposed to eliminate or at least diminish a weak candidate’s chances of winning the nomination. Only the converted attend conventions. And because they want to win, attendees will, eventually, nominate the strongest candidate.

But occasionally, the converted vote not with their heads but their hearts. They want to send a message, even if it takes winning off the table. The 2013 convention did that when it nominated E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor. Jackson delivered a speech that swept the delegates off their feet. They handed him a nomination for which he was entirely unprepared.

Surely, though, this convention will be different. With just Cox, or even Cox and Chase, the fix was in, right? Nope.

Unlike Cox and Chase, the newcomers haven’t held elected office in the commonwealth. For Youngkin, who parachuted into the political scene from the Carlyle Group, the apparent draw is that he can write his campaign big checks, avoiding the dirty work of having to raise money, make promises or otherwise compromise whatever beliefs he may have.

For de la Peña, the appeal seems to be a Horatio Alger-like rise from childhood immigrant to Trump appointee at the Defense Department.

Fair enough. They have a huge amount of work to do securing not just pledged delegates but also getting them to the event, making sure they stay put and, above all, ensuring they understand the rules, tricks and customs of a convention.

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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