By Kim Singhas
Recently I submitted an article to Virginia Right calling Closed Primaries and Party Registration “Voter Disenfranchisement,” also known as “Incumbent Protections” for the political ruling class.
With this post, some in the So-Con branch of the Republican Party of Virginia’s Conservative Fellowship are going to be irritated. They are party leaders past and present who served on the State Central Committee. They work in a movement called the Conservative Fellowship and who for years have favored Conventions over Primaries in Virginia arguing conventions allow less well funded conservative candidates to run for office and allow more politically astute delegates who know the issues to nominate candidates rather than the average low information voter. Their words not mine.
I sincerely hope the Party can hold a civil discussion on this issue of Conventions vs. Primaries without the usual vitriol from the very people who hold the Constitution up and wave it and wrap themselves in the Flag but somehow have disdain for actual elections and the Right to Vote.
Conventions disenfranchise voters, have too much room for corruption, and I support Open Primaries for Republican Party nominations in Virginia.
On August 6th, I attended an all day program promoted as a “Virginia Conservative Action Summit” held in Goochland County. Let me say I consider myself a Conservative and yet the program content and speakers did not represent me or my political principles. This coming from a former College Republican and a lifelong Republican activist who has worked for decades for conservative Republican candidates. Several people I know well who had driven hours to attend the program got up and walked out after the first speaker. They said it was a Middle Resolution Convention supporting an A5 Convention of States and their Charter Schools agenda among other issues we don’t consider conservative. I remained for the duration.
A former GOP Unit Chairman from the 5th District, Daniel Bradshaw, proudly home schooled, and a self described “Grassroots Political operative” all of twenty four years old organized it and served as the moderator. He worked for Bishop EW Jackson’s campaign for Lt. Governor in 2013 and Senator Ted Cruz’s Presidential primary campaign. With his experience he has the network of statewide grassroots contacts which explained his ability to put together an invitation list of three hundred netting 130 RSPVs from every Congressional District in the state, a farm team of sorts, to mine delegates for the Conservative Fellowship’s candidates for the proposed 2017 convention.
The attendees consisted primarily of Ted Cruz Supporters with some #Never Trumpers and a few “Vote my Conscience Objectors” sprinkled in. In attendance were many distinguished Republican Party Insiders and Tea Party Federation leaders past and present whose names I won’t mention but I do respect many of them for the hard work and commitment they have made to the party and its candidates over many years. It’s a volunteer army for the most part and they deserve our respect. I recognized many faces from past campaigns, elections, and conventions.
But the jaw dropping observation I made at the registration desk while I waited to check in was that many attendees couldn’t name their delegate or state senator when asked. The purpose of the question at registration was not a “gotcha question” to embarrass anyone but to appoint people in their appropriate congressional district in light of the recent Congressional redistricting in Virginia.
Virginia’s state representatives in the General Assembly were on the ballot last year- November 2015. Why were these “potential delegates” in a political training class if they didn’t vote last November or are so politically uninformed they can’t recall their delegate or state senator at a grassroots political meeting? Who are these people the Conservative Fellowship are mining for delegates for their candidates? If you don’t know who your state delegate is or their voting record, how are you going to understand complex issues facing the Attorney General’s Race such as civil asset forfeiture? Restoration of Felons’ voting rights? Criminal Justice Reform? The EPA’s complex storm water taxes and the Chesapeake Bay Water Act? Eminent Domain and the Dominion Pipeline? Voter ID laws?
During one breakout session I attended Saturday led by 5th District Republicans Rick Boyer and former State Central Committee member Chris Shores, the discussion centered around how to “take over your Republican committee as they outlined their plan to take over the RPV Party leadership in 2018” with the help of the people in the room. Their advice? “Mine your home school networks, your hunt clubs and your churches and get them all out to a mass meeting for your candidates.” But they admitted it took them seventeen years to take over control of their unit/district. These are the MEN with the “PLAN” to take over the RPV Leadership by 2018 and gain control of the SCC? Turn out your home school networks and your Gun Buddies? That’s a plan?
The leaders of that discussion group weren’t being completely transparent with their raw recruits in their presentation of their overly simplified “plan.” I pointed out to them if their church members and hunt club buddies voted in Democrat Primaries in past elections their SBE voting records would reflect that and they would not be allowed to vote in a GOP County mass meeting or caucus. One woman from very Democratic Alexandria stated to the group she has to regularly vote in Democratic primaries for the more moderate candidates even though she is a Republican “to keep the radical democratic candidates from getting elected.” I said “Honey, you can’t go to a Republican mass meeting or state convention if you vote in Democratic Primaries.” You see? That is how these folks disenfranchise good REPUBLICANS like you with state Party Conventions. They look up your voting record and Brand you with a BIG BLUE “D” on your chest like Hester Prynne in the Scarlet Letter. I personally watched the credentials committee line delegates up like a firing squad and tell them they couldn’t vote at the 7th District Convention in 2014 in Henrico County.
The phones are RINGING. The Conservatives WANT a CONVENTION for 2017. They’ve been working for years to win the seats on the Republican Party’s State Central Committee. Deals have been brokered. The Word “Conservative” has been so distorted by this group it no longer has any meaning coming from their microphones.
In order to keep this simple for readers who are not Party Insiders but who simply consider themselves Republican voters, I will not outline the details of the RPV party plan for weighted votes at convention but when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders tell you the ‘SYSTEM IS RIGGED” they are CORRECT.
Hanover County home of VA RIGHT is VERY REPUBLICAN and has a high voter turnout in state and federal elections. In 2012 Hanover County’s population was 103,000, and the county had 73,000 registered voters.
Hanover is a powerhouse in a Weighted Convention Vote. In the November 2012 election, Hanover County had 67.7% of its vote go to Mitt Romney or 39,920 votes and 31.0% of its vote went to Barack Obama with 18,283 votes. Hanover Delegates will have a greater weighted vote at the state convention than a small rural Southwest Virginia county where voter turn out is low and NOT REPUBLICAN.
Statistics on Virginia’s voter registration can be viewed at this link:
If you are a lone Republican voter from a small rural Southwest Virginia county and you and a few friends sign up to serve as delegates to the state convention, you will spend significant time and money out of your own pocket to attend, and your vote is really worthless.
I prefer the one man, one vote System of Open Primaries.
In 2013, I served as a delegate to the state convention in Richmond. I, along with my husband, sat in a seat in the coliseum from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Most people with kids and dogs or people with disabilities or even many seniors couldn’t do that. Deployed military servicemen, doctors, nurses, law enforcement, Fire and EMS and thousands of other voters couldn’t have participated. They don’t have a VOTE in a convention. Think about that. Deployed Military Servicemen and women and National Guard can’t vote in a CONVENTION.
The So Cons don’t believe the Military should have a say in who their Governor, Lt. Governor, or Attorney General nominee should be?
I wonder what the Soldiers and Marines and Sailors who were deployed to the Middle East to risk being blown up by an IED so AFGHANS and IRAQUIS could walk miles and travel for days to vote in THEIR FREE ELECTIONS would think about a small group of narrow minded politicos Disenfranchising the military votes back home in Virginia? Home to Seal Team Six.
Millions of people can vote early absentee in person or by mail, and vote before and after work on election day with thirteen hour polling location opportunities. In fact, in 2013, more than 2 million two hundred and fifty thousand Virginians VOTED. Going to convention is out of the question for most people. When the party makes it difficult to vote, I am going to call FOUL.
There is a cost to serve as a delegate at a convention. The RPV asks you to pay a fee, which is labeled a “donation.” It could be as much as $35 per person to offset the very expensive costs of the convention. There shouldn’t be a fee to vote. If you live two to three hours away, you may spend the night in a hotel. And because it is a twelve hour hostage situation in the Coliseum- you will spend at least $75 or more for food. If you are elderly or handicapped, getting around the convention center and parking is difficult. The seats are killer after about four hours. The bathroom lines and wait times were really long. Eventually after 13 hours, the toilets no longer worked. I am not kidding. It was disgusting. The floors were flooded with sewage.
They make this as difficult and unpleasant as possible to serve as a delegate to state convention and that is intentional. One Candidate hopes to wear down the Other Candidates’ delegates and strong arm them for their votes. After the first ballot, the gloves come off and all kidding aside, war doesn’t begin to describe what goes on and it is ugly. There is actual harrassment of delegates by candidate operatives. I witnessed it. Operatives target delegates wearing buttons and carrying signs for their opponent and intimidate them to relinquish their vote for “their guy.” Lies are told about your candidate that you devoted an entire weekend to support.
I prefer the privacy of the voting booth where I can cast my vote and no one knows who I voted for and where it is against the law to INTIMIDATE ME OR INFLUENCE MY VOTE AT THE BALLOT BOX.
Most people who have experienced the state convention ONCE will never willingly do it again thus the need to bring in your hunt club buddies and Home School Networks as fresh new raw recruits every four years. The big problem with state conventions is that huge numbers of delegates just get up and walk out and leave before the voting is over and it dramatically changes the weighting of the votes. It happened during the Lt. Governor’s nomination in 2013. I sat directly across from the Henrico Delegation at the convention in the coliseum and when it was time for Happy Hour, most of the Henrico County delegation went home. I watched it collapse. There were more ballots to cast for Lt. Governor. The voting and counting lasted four more hours.
Conventions are the WORST form of rigging the outcome by those insiders who run the rules committee and count the ballots.
2013 was memorable for us in other ways. Conventions have too much opportunity for corruption.
In 2013 we cast our votes for Lt. Governor. EW Jackson and Susan Stimpson won the top votes out of the slate of seven candidates on the first ballot. BUT the Favored RPV Establishment candidate- Pete Snyder- didn’t make the cut. So what did the rules chairman do? He passed out the second Ballot and had the delegates vote without reporting to the delegates the exact number of votes EW Jackson and Susan Stimpson had actually received on the first ballot. That piece of information could have changed the outcome of the Second Ballot. What if Susan Stimpson had won?
How does that happen? The Rules Chairman controls it all. Conventions can be rigged.
On the second ballot, RPV favorite Snyder garnered enough votes to stay in the hunt. And so this went on for hours, Susan Stimpson was cut along with Steve Martin, Jeannemarie Davis, and Scott Lingamfelter and then Corey Stewart and finally there were two: Pete Snyder and EW Jackson.
If you ever wondered why EW Jackson won the nomination, I always felt the people at the convention were just so angry at the process they witnessed controlled by Party Insiders that the delegates voted for EW Jackson- the outsider. His people never left. They stayed until the very end. The removal of 7th District Chairman Linwood Cobb in 2014 was payback for his actions to Susan Stimpson in the 2013 state convention where he served as Rules Chairman. Some in the Conservative Fellowship made it their life’s work to elect Tea Party Leader Fred Gruber 7th District Chairman in May 2014.
And so for those of you who were disappointed for the GOP loss in the statewide races in 2013, I want you to see that the Party is presently very divided. Some in the Republican Party prefer a convention because they believe they can turn out the SoCons to vote for their candidates. But can they win in a statewide election in November against a well funded Democrat? For Republicans like me I see Conventions as Voter Disenfranchisement: an extraordinarily small sample size with narrow political ideology determining the Party nominees. I’m not resigned to give up Primaries to the Convention voters singularly aligned with Sunday Hunting and the Home School networks to determine our party’s nominees at a state convention. Don’t know the names of your representatives in the General Assembly? No Problem but Be Sure and Sign up to be a Delegate for ME at the state convention next year.
I urge you to call and write the Republican Party Leadership and SCC members this week and ask them to vote FOR A PRIMARY and AGAINST CONVENTIONS as the 2017 nomination process at THE STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEETING of the Republican Party of Virginia. THE VOTE IS SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY AUGUST 27th at the Richmond Convention Center. Contact information for state central committee members can be found at the link below: