(Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, Rich Anderson)

by Brandon Jarvis

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson sent a letter on Monday to Republican State Central Committee members updating them on where the nomination process stands while also warning that an inability to reach a final decision will result in the committee members choosing the nominees themselves.

“Without approved State Party Plan (SPP) amendments for an unassembled convention, we are now on a trajectory that will preclude an assembled convention, an unassembled convention, and a primary,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “That will require that our three statewide nominees be selected by the State Central Committee (SCC), which will take on the perception of party bosses huddled in a smoke-filled back room.

In case you missed it, the committee met for a third time on Saturday to finalize the nomination process for statewide candidates. The committee originally voted for a convention with the vague-understanding that it would be amended to become an unassembled, drive-thru process.

The Dec. 5 vote was close and contentious. The next two meetings where members attempted to reconsider the nomination methods were just as tense with the motion to reconsider a primary failing each time. The motion to amend the plan and change it to an unassembled convention also failed each time, leaving the committee with the original option of a traditional convention, which is hard to imagine under current protocols in Virginia.

Anderson told committee members that he acknowledges the required 75% agreement among committee members to amend the plan from a traditional convention to an unassembled one does not look promising.

“As most have acknowledged, the current COVID-19 restrictions in Virginia preclude an assembled convention, and a majority of SCC members (but not the required 75% threshold) want to approve amendments to the SPP for an unassembled drive-through convention,” wrote Anderson. “At present, this is unachievable and not likely forthcoming. That is the current situation in which we find ourselves, and we now stand at an impasse with no apparent way forward.”

Also acknowledging the time being wasted on arguing over the process, Anderson said he has to move forward with planning.

“As State Party Chair, I now find myself at a place where I have been instructed by the SCC through four successive votes—across three meetings and over a two-month period—that we will proceed with a convention,” he wrote. “From my perspective, the clock is ticking, time is fleeing, the media has been reporting since December 5th that we have opted for a convention, and our 126 local Republican units and rank-and-file Republicans have been told four times by an SCC majority that we are moving with a convention. Likewise, many of our candidates for all three statewide offices have been proceeding since December 5th with engineering their campaigns for a convention.”

Anderson said the party plan requires that he now forms convention committees and move the process forward in that direction.

“In the interim and in the coming week, I have no choice but to form the various convention committees that are mandated by the SPP for convention planning, which is consistent with what I have previously said to the SCC,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “With our present impasse, I will direct the RPV staff to initiate contingency planning for both convention options (i.e., assembled and unassembled conventions). While I prefer to plan for an unassembled convention only, I do not have that option and would be negligent if I were to defer planning to a future date.”

In wrapping up the letter to committee members, Anderson stressed that he believes the trajectory of the process will make it hard for any of the nomination methods to take place, leaving it up to the State Central Committee members to decide the Republican candidate, something he hopes does not happen.

“To the best of my knowledge, the last statewide nominee designated by the SCC was in 1978 under extraordinary circumstances when Senator John W. Warner III was selected after the death of our convention-nominated candidate, Richard D. Obenshain. Four decades later, I don’t wish to employ this method.”

The committee is scheduled to meet again on February 27. Anderson wrote he believes the members the time after emotions have been high over the process. “I believe that we now need a cooling-off period as a result of our present impasse, passions running at elevated levels in full view of the public, adverse publicity, and the need for Congressional District Republican Committee chairs to research potential district venues for unassembled conventions,” wrote Anderson.

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By vascope