Score one for Ken Cuccinelli. Or at least his supporters.
Backers of the attorney general, running for governor next year, succeeded in winning a number of new spots on the state GOP’s
governing board over the last few weeks.
What does that mean?
The 81-member State Central Committee will now revisit the issue of whether the party should hold a convention or a primary next year for governor.
Cuccinelli, who faces Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in a tough contest, has long backed conventions. Many political watchers believe he would be more likely to win the nomination in that kind of contest because he has strong support among the party faithful. Bolling has long favored primaries.
The State Central Committee already decided to hold a primary — not a convention — to select the party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general back in October.
But a number of the new members, elected over a series of weeks, favor a convention. Some of the winners — party activists and supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul — ran on a platform of holding a convention next year.
Gary C. Byler, a lawyer and longtime Republican activist from Virginia Beach who leads the party’s 2nd Congressional District committee, said convention supporters have asked that the issue be considered at the committee’s June 15 meeting. Multiple calls to the Republican Party of Virginia were not returned.
Cuccinelli said after he got into the race in December that he would not try to change the nomination method, and that he’s not behind any effort now.
“Ken is prepared to run, and win, in whatever method of nomination the State Central Committee decides is best for the party,’’ Cuccinelli political director Noah Wall said. “We’ve been anticipating running in a primary, but we’d obviously rather use the two to three million dollars we’d save in a convention to use against Democrats in a general election.’’
Bolling, who been planning a run for years, helped steer the State Central Committee to primaries for the U.S. Senate race in 2012 and statewide races in 2013.
“The Republican Party voted to hold a primary in 2013,’’ Bolling spokeswoman Ibbie Hedrick said. “At least six candidates have made a decision to run for statewide office in the primary and taken significant steps to launch their primary campaigns. The question has clearly already been resolved. You can’t change the rules in the middle of an election. Any effort to change would be a clear violation of the commitment to the rule of law.”
In 2009, Gov. Bob McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli were selected at a convention. The State Central Committee voted overwhelmingly — 51-28 — in October to change from a convention to a primary for 2013.
Officials say they voted two years in advance because they wanted to give candidates a chance to decide whether they wanted to run based on the method of nomination selection.