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by Brandon Jarvis

Earlier this week, Virginia Scope reported that a group of Republican State Central Committee (SCC) members took advantage of quorum requirements and scheduled a meeting of the SCC for February 20 with the intention of trying to change the nomination process for statewide races. It appears, however, that the party’s leader has found a technicality that will prevent the meeting from taking place.

Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Chairman Rich Anderson sent out a letter to committee members on Thursday to clarify. “As you know, 31 SCC members have asked for an SCC meeting this Saturday, February 20th, at 1pm,” Anderson wrote in the letter. He continued to state that he consulted with a parliamentarian, and due to the committee’s operations being governed by Roberts Rules of Order, he believes the call for a new meeting on Saturday is not permissible.

“The guidance I received was that a new meeting may not be called while the SCC is already in session (by virtue of having adjourned our January 23rd meeting to continue our discussions at a future meeting),” Anderson wrote. “For that reason, I conclude that the call for a February 20th meeting is not properly before the SCC. I don’t make this decision lightly because I respect all views and know this question is a contentious one, which is why I wanted outside and independent advice.” 

Anderson is referring to the motion that was approved at the end of the last SCC meeting which put the nomination discussion on hold until their next meeting. That motion was approved, but this was done with the understanding that Anderson would be contacting members in the following days to schedule the next meeting.

Anderson contacted the committee members a few days later to tell them that he believed everyone needed a cooling-off period before meeting again – recognizing that they have reached an impasse and do not have the votes on either side to make a change.

The committee has yet to convene again and Feb. 23 is the final day that the Department of Elections can be notified if Republicans plan to use a primary election to choose nominees.

In early-December, the SCC originally voted in support of a nomination convention, but members that support a primary believe that it is not possible to hold a typical convention with COVID-19 restrictions in place that limit large gatherings.

During each meeting since the convention was chosen, members have attempted to alter the decision by changing it to either an unassembled convention, which would still be run like a convention except with satellite locations across the Commonwealth – or a primary, which would be handled by the Department of Elections in the same manner general elections are handled.

Making an alteration to the party plan by changing it to an unassembled convention or primary is actually quite difficult as it requires 75% of the committee to agree.

The reason the 31 SCC members called for the meeting was to offer a compromise of sorts. They were offering to support changing the nomination method to a party canvass, which is a voting method that closely resembles a primary but is run by the local units of the Republican Party instead of the Commonwealth. Voters would show up and receive credentialing in a way that is similar to a convention, but their votes would not be weighted and there would be locations across Virginia.

A canvass is already included in the party plan, meaning it would only require a simple majority for approval – though it is unclear still if the votes are there for this. The 31 members that offered the compromise would not be enough for a majority on the committee with over 70 members.

Anderson warned recently that this stalemate might leave the executive committee with no other option than to choose the nominee themselves. “I don’t wish to employ this method,” he said.

In an effort to avoid that, Anderson told the full committee that he is meeting this week with representatives from each side of the debate in an attempt to reach a compromise. “I asked each side to designate three representatives to meet with me via a Zoom call to discuss the proposal,” Anderson wrote on Thursday. “During that call, we discussed a wide range of options. Representatives from both groups agreed to report the results of our discussions to their full groups in the hopes of reaching consensus.”  

He wrote in the letter that he planned to meet with the representatives again Thursday night.

Senator Amanda Chase (Chesterfield), one of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Governor has filed a lawsuit against RPV in an attempt to force them to hold a primary election. 

Chase’s lawsuit, which will be in front of a judge on Friday, is based on the notion that a judge will recognize a convention is not possible while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. “We feel confident that tomorrow the judge will make clear that a regular primary will be the only legal method of nomination under the Governor’s current executive order which only allows 10 or fewer gatherings,” Chase said in an interview.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Chase called for the SCC to meet again prior to the Feb. 23 deadline. Glenn Youngkin, another GOP gubernatorial candidate and former CEO of the Carlyle Group agreed with Chase on Twitter. “Strange that the other candidates are not expressing similar concerns,” Youngkin wrote in response to Chase’s tweet. 

Youngkin, a self-proclaimed outsider, has a large personal fortune and very little political baggage – which could be beneficial in the primary and general election – but being an outsider when party insiders are selecting the nominee is a tough battle to win. 

Other GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Del. Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights) and Pete Snyder declined to comment for this story. 

And while she is suing the organization he leads, Chase expressed faith in Anderson to figure this out. “He is actively working behind the scenes to try to get the two groups to come together and work through the impasse,” she said on Thursday night. “Our court case should give the SCC more clarity in their legal options and we are hoping that this impasse will come to an end. The people of Virginia are on high alert and watching.”

Anderson has not responded to any requests for comment. 


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