Analyst: Convention switch might strengthen Cuccinelli’s chances

Posted at 8:08 PM, May 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-29 20:08:24-04

RICHMOND, VA. (WTVR) A reversal in the nominating process for the Republican candidate for governor, from a statewide primary to a more insider-driven convention, could be in the offing.

The Republican State Central Committee- which voted just 9 months ago to hold a primary- is now weighing a flip to a convention, according to party officials.

“Most people believe that if the GOP switches to a convention, this would give an added advantage to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli,” said Dr. Bob Holsworth, CBS 6’s political analyst.

“He has fervent supporters among the Tea Party and social conservatives, and the thought is that [voting bloc] might be more likely to get on a bus from all over the state and come to Richmond on a Saturday morning.”

Cuccinelli told CBS 6 Tuesday he supports a move to a convention because it would spare the eventual nominee the expense of competing in a more traditional campaign.

“I am very frugal,” said Cuccinelli, “and my preference would be to see us save the millions of dollars that otherwise get spent on TV ads, fliers and all those kinds of things in a broad campaign.”

The other candidate running for the GOP nomination, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, countered that a switch to a convention would not only represent changing rules in the middle of the game, but could also freeze off a large portion of the party’s base.

“If we want to grow our party over time, we need to include more people, not less,” said Bolling.

“In a primary we’ll have 300,000 to 400,000 Virginians participate, while in a convention you might draw 6, 7 or 8,000 Virginians,” he added. “We want to be seen as a party of inclusion, not a party of exclusion.”

Holsworth called Bolling “politically-savvy,” and said if the party moves for a convention “you’re going to see him switch the kind of strategy he has in order to run his nomination battle.”

The call for a convention was prompted, in part, by recent elections to the Central Committee-  which saw Tea Party members and conservative Republicans claim a majority of the open spots.

Should the party switch to a convention, Holsworth said it will likely use that format for all three of the statewide elected positions, governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.