Friday, December 30, 2011

Virginia's Republican Party Sinks to the Occasion...Again

*** UPDATE ***


Just when it seemed our Commonwealth’s Republican leaders couldn’t do anything more to increase their appearance of stupidity, scarcity thinking, or risibility, the Virginia elephant has come up with a new dance move. No, it's not pretty.

The Blue Ridge Forum blog has some updates, particularly the little item concerning what is required in order to vote in the Republican presidential primary in March. When you get to your polling place - SURPRISE! - you have to sign a loyalty oath.

For real, folks. Something smells rotten in Richmond.

BRF quotes the Richmond paper:

“The state Republican Party will require voters to sign a loyalty oath in order to participate in the March 6 presidential primary. Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign will be barred from voting in the primary. ..”
They may be trying to insure that no one shows up to vote? Such an outcome would give them more leverage in deciding who “wins” this one. As if anyone at the national level will care when this farce is over. And what do you think a loyalty oath from a yellow dog Democrat is worth?

BRF quotes another fellow, a long-time conservative leader who remembers his history:

“How many conservative Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan in ‘Republican’ primaries in 1980? Would they have voted in a Republican primary that required a loyalty oath when Reagan was probably the only Republican they would vote for? I doubt it.”
Yes, we do actually have ‘conservative’ Democrats here in Virginia. They voted for Obama, even though his socialist politics are 180 degrees away from their own world view.

But for the most part, at the state level they vote for Republicans like our current governor. And don’t get me started on him. The man is an opportunist who plays footsie with the Beltway Muslim Brotherhood big time. What a disappointment he and our Attorney General have turned out to be. Whoever has the money gets their attention.

Read the whole post here. You can also search his archives for the inroads Islam is making in Virginia politics. It's far worse than you think.

The noises coming from the public regarding Virginia’s Republican presidential primary process are mostly sounds of angry disbelief. Believe it, y’all: the Commonwealth’s GOP is feckless, reckless, and has a lousy customer service record.

The latest snafu is a change (as of two months ago) regarding the hoops candidates must jump through in order to qualify for the Republican primary. The equation’s factors are political ‘thinking’ times lawyerese. The result is explained here; it's the most succinct of the dozens I've read[my emphasis below -D]:

Virginia’s statutory ballot access requirement is, quite simply, one of if not the most daunting in the country: A minimum of 10,000 petition signatures collected statewide, including at least 400 from each of its 11 congressional districts. That’s hard enough. But then there are the additional restrictions: the petition circulators must be registered or eligible to vote in Virginia. The signatures must be gathered using the State Board of Elections’ official form, a two-page document which must be reproduced as double-sided. (Single-sided stapled forms are not accepted.) Signatures must be collected on forms that are specific to each city, county and congressional district. Only “qualified” voters may sign a petition. And every single petition form must be sworn and notarized.

Want a sense of how next-to-impossible this is? I know top-flight Virginia political consultants who turned down lucrative petition project contracts from presidential campaigns because they did not think it could be done.

And then there’s the Republican Party of Virginia, which is tasked by law with the responsibility of certifying which candidates have qualified for primary ballot access. RPV has effectively raised the statutory requirement of 10,000/400 by a factor of 50% this year by offering this safe harbor: the Party first will conduct a facial review of all petitions, and candidates who submit at least 15,000 signatures and 600 from each congressional district will be presumed to have met the statutory 10,000/400 requirement. Candidates who submit 14,999 or fewer, however, will undergo signature-by-signature scrutiny of his or her petitions—something no statewide candidate in recent memory ever has had to endure.*

For many years, the Virginia GOP generally selected its nominees in conventions. But the Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia litigation, which challenged RPV’s mandatory convention registration fees as poll taxes, caused the Party temporarily to abandon conventions in favor of primaries.

The first statewide petition drive post-Morse was in the 1996 Republican U.S. Senate primary. Then came the 1997 primaries for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and in 2000, the Republican presidential and U.S. Senate primaries.

Each successive petition drive has gotten harder and harder as volunteers have grown more and more tired of the arduous, tedious work it takes to gather thousands upon thousands of signatures in ever more frequent petition drives. The drives have gotten more expensive, too, as campaigns have resorted to paying volunteers to incent (sic) their efforts. What should be a test of a campaign’s organization and grassroots has become a drain on them—exhausting volunteers and siphoning away money better spent contacting voters, delivering messages, identifying supporters and driving turnout, all important objectives that petition drives have proven worthless at advancing.

In 2008, two presidential candidates very nearly failed to meet the minimum requirement of 400 signatures from the Third Congressional District and almost missed the ballot as a result. Which brings us to this year, when it is probable that at least one and possibly more of the major GOP candidates will fail to qualify for the Virginia ballot.

This is especially unfortunate because this year, for the first time in decades, the GOP nomination likely will not be all-but decided before Virginia’s primary, and thus Virginia’s primary will truly matter.

But due to Virginia’s unreasonable ballot access requirements, all the surviving candidates may not be on the Virginia ballot—which means those candidates wouldn’t campaign here, and Virginia’s voters would have fewer choices. Even as Virginia has moved up in the primary calendar, it risks marginalizing itself in the presidential selection process as its petition drives become harder and more expensive, and as more candidates fail to succeed or even to attempt them.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A few years ago, the Virginia Democrats circulated one petition on behalf of all primary candidates, but the Republican Party of Virginia has not seen fit to follow that sensible step.

Many other states require merely the filing of a few forms and payment of a filing fee—and in the case of South Carolina, a substantial one at that. No doubt Virginia’s political parties—notoriously cash-hungry due to our anything-goes system of campaign finance in which individuals and corporations can contribute unlimited sums directly to candidates—could use such a financial shot in the arm every four years.

For all candidates who have met the statutory requirement, I think the Party’s plan to scrutinize some candidates’ signatures and not others, based upon the arbitrary standard of whether the candidates submitted a full 50% more than the statutory requirement, violates the Equal Protection Clause under Bush v. Gore. It seems to me that all candidates who facially meet the statutory requirement should have their petitions and signatures adjudged according to the same standard.
The only thing he forgot to mention was that this Republican primary, to be held in March, is not “closed”. Registered Democrats are free to wander into the polling place in their district and skew the outcome if they want to do so. Virginia Democrats are a tad better than, say, the ones in Illinois, but only because they are not subjected to the degree of unionization the latter has exploited for benefit of the Dems since whenever. Given the feckless reckless GOP in our Commonwealth, I don’t doubt the Democrats will take advantage. And given the stupidity of the primary access rules for candidates, that primary process will be meaningless with only Romney and Paul featured.

For anyone who wants to comment on this post, please remember that the subject is the rules of the GOP primary in Virginia. This is not the time to discuss the virtues or vices of either candidate. Those food fights can be found all over the internet — here’s John Bolton’s take on one of them. For the moment, though, we’ll avoid entering the fray. Right now there is too much jostling for position, too much posturing.

This latest machine breakdown in the Commonwealth's GOP is simply more of the same. Kind of like the ineptness to be found at the National Committee level.


Rose said...

Thank you! Will share this info. Very much appreciated.

RonaldB said...

The big problem is the tendency of the Supreme Court to invalidate the use of conventions to nominate candidates.

The US political system used to select nominees through conventions of party professionals, who had the interests of the party at heart. After the selections, the party candidates (Democratic versus Republican) ran against each other in a general election.

This system had the merits of moderating candidates. Party professionals, of whatever ideology, would be unlikely to select an unelectable candidate.

The Supreme Court has short-circuited the traditional electoral process in many ways. In this case, it has imposed a general election flavor to a primary process, eliminating the influence of the party pros.

The Republican Party of Virginia may have been trying to ameliorate the damage by raising barriers to GOP candidates for nomination. I don't know. But, I know that the more interference in the traditional political process by the Supreme Court, based on popularizing all aspects of political influence, has been deeply damaging to the quality of the political process in the US.

Edward Spalton said...

Was it not Thomas Jefferson who warned his fellow Virginians against a too "democratical" constitution "Else we will but have exchanged King George for King Numbers"?

It seems that someone is determined to ensure that only a professional hierarchy can comply with the detailed requirements of the Republican party.

Chiu said...

Ultimately, I have to reject any prioritization of machine politics. The essential purpose of machine politics is to ram through wildly unpopular policy positions against the will of the people. It is better and more honest to simply resort to violence in the streets (I trust I have made it clear that there are many reasonable objections to such a course of action).

Still, I grant that there is a particularly grand crisis facing America and the rest of the Western world at this time. It may seem that arguments over the unresponsive and unprincipled nature of the party system should take a backseat to winning the elections necessary to gain influence in the direction of government.

Except for the question of exactly who's going to win that influence. The machine party tacticians are a substantial part of the reason that the current crisis exists. If they get their candidates into office, we shall simply get more of the same, repackaged with different labels. This is the inevitable result of saying that the party label, rather than the values that the individual candidates champion, is the important thing.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

Anonymous said...

I would have a little more sympathy over Perry, Gingrich, and etc not making the Republican primary ballot if the Republican and Democrat parties didn't collude to make it near impossible for third parties to get on the ballet for the general election. (cough)Libertarian Party(cough)

Dymphna said...

@ Anon-

For whatever reason, the third party (Conservative) has worked intermittently in New York state. Given the level of cronyism there this is surprising.

I don't know how it manages to stay afloat, but I think it was in operation in 2009 to bring in a candidate in a special election for a Congressional district up in the northern part of the state.

I remember reporting on it at the time; the same time in which I learned how ACORN had quickly tranmogrified itself into something called "Working Families Party". What a hoot.

[Such info doesn't stick between my synapses anymore. $%#&*^ fibrofog and chemo took away my working memory. This has one great advantage: I enjoy jokes...the same jokes over and over again. The Baron sure likes it.]

Franklin said...

Sign whatever they is meaningless...then vote for whom ever you wish...Happy New year Dymph und Baronsky...long life and prosperity to you in 2012!

Frankie the Crip

Lawrence said...

This is Virginia GOP's way of teaching us how to make a primary irrelevant.

Lawrence said...

Reply to Chiu Chun-Ling...

I completely agree with your post.

Reply to Anon: "(cough)Libertarian Party(cough)".

The Libertarian party needs a solid platform other than generalizations about lesser government and fewer laws telling us what to do (approaching Anarchy). And an international policy platform that is more than just "do nothing, send no military anywhere, and accommodate the economic wishes of other nations in the process".

If the Libertarian party could solidify around true Conservative Federalist ideologies they could probably replace the GOP in influence in about two election cycles.

Anonymous said...

If one votes in a primary, that vote should carry over to the presidential. Vote in a primary, bang you're done. One vote. Now this unaccountable, ineffective "oath" baloney? The system doesn't need an additional "oath", one more layer of "stupid" slathered on it, it needs repeal and reform. You'd think Republicans would fight to repeal that broken system. Toxic water supply? Brain damage? I mean, duh. RoR

Anonymous said...

@ Lawrence

I wish the Libertarians would have a more cohesive platform. I know they're never going to win an election the way they are now but as long as the GOP remains the party of "At least we don't stink as bad as the Democrats" then if I'm going to waste my vote I might as well waste it on the Libertarian party.

1389 said...

Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli Files Emergency Legislation to Put GOP Candidates on Primary Ballot

Chiu said...

To take the discussion back to the potential influence of "protest votes" for candidates that are not supported by either major party, I would like to point out an interesting aspect of the structure of most elections in the American system.

Basically, because of the electoral college and Congressional district system, a large number of Americans live in states or localities where they have almost no chance of seriously influencing an election anyway. For instance, if Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, there is virtually zero chance of the state of Utah not voting for him. This creates an interesting opportunity for those living in Utah to register their displeasure with either party. For leftists, there is not really much point in voting for Obama other than as an expression of solidarity. For conservatives, there is no pressing need to help ensure that Romney picks up Utah's electoral votes.

The process of gerrymandering Congressional districts means that this situation applies even more commonly in Congressional races that take place every two years (particularly for conservatives or libertarians, since the gerrymandering is only legally permitted to ensure safely leftist bastions). If there is already nearly zero chance of preventing a victory by the candidate you dislike most, why bother voting for the "legitimate" Republican alternative rather than for your "dream candidate", even if you have to write that candidate in?

This is a hidden strength of the electoral collage and Congressional districts, one that has been hidden deliberately despite being a significant part of the design of the American republic exactly because it poses such a dramatic threat to established machine politics. Is it too late to use such a strategy to save the republic from machine politics? Possibly. But it is not too late to try if you happen to have the otherwise bad fortune to live where your vote cannot make any other difference.

If your state or district simply isn't going to be in much doubt, then why not use your vote to send a message to the established parties?

Chiu Chun-Ling.

P.S. the fact that the media is so fond of trumpeting the national popular vote totals when it makes Republican candidates appear weaker is a considerable benefit to this strategy. The Republican establishment may be deaf to the conservative 'grass-roots' voters, but they won't ignore the media fallout of Republicans having gotten only a third of the popular vote nationwide. It won't make a bit of difference in who actually got elected, but will punish the establishment in ways they won't ignore.

Sagunto said...

1389/Lawrence -

With all respect that is due, I submit to you that i.m.o. you're just flippin' the same old coin. Heads gives you a big government Republicrat, tails a big government Neo-Progressive.

Landing edge gets you a constitutional conservative, smeared by some as some kind of "anarchist".

Take care,

Dymphna said...

Perhaps it's the medium which makes the message so hard to comprehend.

In this case, I requesteed that all comments stay ON TOPIC. If you'll check the penultimate paragraph in this post, it says:

For anyone who wants to comment on this post, please remember that the subject is the rules of the GOP primary in Virginia. This is not the time to discuss the virtues or vices of either candidate. Those food fights can be found all over the internet...

I should have made my message more prominent. I regret having to delete the off-topic comments; some of them had pertinent information but unfortunately, the came larded with opinion re a candidate.

To repeat, food fights about the presidential primary candidates can be found all over the blogosphere. Here's a great aggregation of them:


American politics, 24/7.

Just not here.

The news feed is a great place for OT comments. And they are read. Lots of people get the Newsfeed.

Chiu said...

It is true that Virginia may still be a battleground state despite having gone for Obama by a pretty significant margin. But, if the date approaches and the Republican nominee isn't doing well in your state, by all means register your displeasure with the selection process.

If the conservatives of even a few clearly leftist bastions simply abandon the Republican party altogether at the polls, the reverberations will be felt by the national party and all of their establishment.

Playing the same game with a potential battleground state is a bit dangerous...but for that very reason the parties are much more sensitive to indications that it isn't just votes they would never get that they've lost.

1389 said...

Jay Sekulow Shills for the American Dictatorship that has disenfranchised Virginia's GOP voters.