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A Primary or Convention for the 97th Delegate District?

Not very often the news comes to me but Monday night I got an urgent call from Del. Chris Peace. Yes it was a robocall. It informed me about a meeting set for this Saturday, January 19 at 11 am at the VFW Post on Bell Creek Road in Mechanicsville. Apparently a committee of one person appointed by each GOP unit (Hanover, King William and New Kent) will decide: Convention or Primary?

The robocall, sponsored by Chris Peace and Friends of Chris Peace, named one of the members of the committee: Cold Harbor (Hanover County) Supervisor Scott Wyatt. And the robocall said: Wyatt might run against Del. Peace! Imagine that! After endorsing the expansion of Medicaid and then retweeting the evil Washington Post, maybe some conservatives are not happy with the incumbent delegate! The call gave out Supervisor Wyatt’s number, too.

Well, I took my delegate’s advice and I called Wyatt. But I will not reveal what I said but I do plan Lord willing to be there at the meeting.

I have mixed feelings about the primary v. convention issue and I bring the experience of having run for office (30 years ago – I better lay down for a few minutes!)

When I lost the primary (primarily my fault by the way!) one friendly observer suggested Democrats came out to vote for my opponent because they felt I was harder to beat in the general election. And that can happen; I knew Dems who voted for Brat in 2014 and they were not converts to conservatism. (My analysis of the vote in 1989 was that the turnout in the heavily Democratic areas was not strong and I tend to discount that theory. I had a few Dems helping me – African-American activists who I was honored to get to support me!)

So that is a real fear. Del. Peace made the argument that all Republicans ought to have their voice heard – in a primary. I agree with open government and transparency and we need more of it (let’s start with judicial selection and retention!) but primaries also cost taxpayer money and are expensive to run in. Conventions can actually be a fundraiser for the party units. There is an excitement about activists getting together and seeing the action. Fewer Dems in the process.

So there are two sides to this. (By the way, the reason for this is that the Fourth Circuit invalidated the so-called incumbent protection act – a state statute that allowed the incumbent to decide the method of selection and most incumbents chose primaries – why? Not because of opening up the process and transparency – but it is hard to run against an incumbent in a primary. Now I agree this is a problem: it almost went from too much protection for the pols to too little. The court held that the political party had the associational right to decide under the First Amendment to decide its selection procedure. (This should be appealed to the Supreme Court, I am generally opposed to state laws being struck down by lower Federal Courts; the Supreme Court ought to have the last word.)

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

3 Responses to “A Primary or Convention for the 97th Delegate District?”

  1. Paul Blumstein says:

    If the Supreme Court had to review everything that the lower courts decided, the backlog would be such that nothing would get through. Being an Assistant Chief EO, I can attest to Dems voting in Republican primaries. That is why I always push for conventions or mass meetings or firehouse primaries (aka caucuses).

  2. Bob Shannon

    If this isn’t the time to get rid of Peace then I don’t know when it would be. If you folks don’t properly vet his replacement then you end up with another little Peace.

    Examine Wyatt’s record on the Hanover B.O.S. From what I have read and using his own words in his support for more money for Hanover Schools, more money for Hanover Public Safety I am not at all convinced anything is gained . Please share with me any effort Wyatt has made to cut anything ?
    Bob Shannon King William

  3. Joe J. says:

    A little Peace is always better than a Big Peace!


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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