Tareq Salahi has never been one for closed events.
So the White House party crasher, who is running for governor of Virginia, was none too pleased when the state GOP’s governing board voted Friday to switch from a gubernatorial primary open to all voters to a convention for Republican Party delegates.
The convention-vs-primary battle was broadly seen as a proxy fight between two others running for the Republican nomination: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
But the reality television personality thinks it really was all about him.
“I am troubled that Cuccinelli has decided to rob Virginians of their right to vote at the primary — this is undemocratic and a move which indicates he is a weak candidate and does not believe he can defeat me in an open primary,” Salahi said in a statement posted on Facebook Tuesday. “It is clear that the only thing that has changed since Cuccinelli supported an open primary in last year’s Republican vote is the announcement that I am seeking the Republican nomination for Governor in next year’s primary and his fear that I will win.”
Cuccinelli’s political director, Noah Wall, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The State Central Committee voted overwhelmingly in October to hold a primary to select nominees for all statewide races in 2013. But Cuccinelli backers elected to the committee over the past couple of months pushed to have the issue reconsidered, and it was reversed at a meeting Friday.
Conventional political wisdom has it that the firebrand attorney general would have the edge among the conservative party stalwarts who attend conventions, while the more collegial lieutenant governor would fare better in among the less-conservative and moderate voters who participate in primaries. Primaries in Virginia are open to members of either major party while convention delegates are chosen by local party committees.
Bolling hired high-profile elections lawyer Jan Baran but later ruled out a lawsuit over the change. But Salahi suggested he is weighing his legal options.
“The time under the rules for reconsidering a primary vote that is democratically election-based vs. holding a closed convention has passed, and any attempt to change the rules during the middle of an election may be unlawful,”said Chuck Roberts, general counsel for the campaign. “Mr. Salahi is disappointed that Mr. Cuccinelli is again manipulating the laws of the Commonwealth for his own political gain. At this point, the Salahi for Governor Campaign is reviewing the legal remedies available to protect the rights of Virginia voters to choose their Governor, and it will take all actions necessary to preserve those rights.”