Virginia Republicans are mulling whether to scrap plans to require voters in the March 6 presidential primary to pledge support for the party’s eventual nominee.
Late last month, the state board of elections approved the Virginia GOP’s proposed “loyalty oath,” a form for primary voters that would say: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”
But last week, Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, announced in a Facebook message that the state central committee would "revisit the loyalty oath” at a special meeting Jan. 21.
Virginians do not register by party, raising the possibility that Democrats could make mischief this year by voting in the GOP primary, particularly since they have no nomination fight on their side of the aisle.
While making clear he believes “we need party registration in Virginia” so “party nominees must be chosen by their party,” Mullins noted that “in 2012, there are quite a lot of non-party-affiliated voters who will be helping us remove the current occupant of the White House.” Mullins and some other critics within the GOP are concerned that a loyalty oath might drive those voters away.
The state party proposed and then withdrew a similar oath in the 2008 presidential contest.
Currently, only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) will be on the Virginia primary ballot, as both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and ex-speaker Newt Gingrich failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify.
Perry, joined by four other campaigns, has filed suit against the state party’s controversial signature requirements. It is unclear how much further that effort will go, given that Perry plans to “reassess” his campaign in the wake of his disappointing finish in Tuesday’s Iowa caucus.