Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is urging his party’s State Central Committee not to dump a planned primary in favor of a convention next year, saying that changing the way candidates for governor and other statewide offices are nominated would be unfair and subject to legal challenges.
“Once the SCC determines a method of nomination, I believe it is improper and unfair to candidates and Republican voters to change the rules in the middle of the game,” Bolling wrote in a letter sent to the 81-member committee Friday.
Bolling, who is running for governor in 2013 and favors primaries, faces a tough primary fight against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), who prefers conventions. Many political observers believe a convention, which is likely to be dominated by party activists, would favor the outspoken attorney general over the more understated lieutenant governor.
The State Central Committee decided in October to hold a primary, not a convention, to select the party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2013.
But Cuccinelli supporters, who won a number of new spots on the state GOP’s governing board in recent weeks, have asked that the question be reconsidered at the committee’s June 15 meeting.
Cuccinelli said after he got into the race in December that he would not try to change the nomination method. He said about a week ago that he is not behind the effort to do so.
“On October 1, 2011 the SCC voted overwhelmingly to hold a primary in 2013 in order for all potential candidates to know the playing field before making their decision to run for statewide office,” Bolling wrote. ”The SCC has held three meetings since October 1, 2011. The question of changing the method of nomination did not come up at any of these meetings. Clearly, as a practical matter, the time for reconsidering such a decision under the rules has passed, and any attempt to change the rules during the middle of an election may raise legal issues as well.
“Over the past eight months, six primary campaigns have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, made strategic staffing decisions and allocated candidate time toward running in a primary. These decisions would have been very different if the candidates knew they were running in a convention. This money cannot be unspent and this time cannot be regained.”