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Virginia Republicans to select candidates at unassembled convention: 'Republicans are ready to win'

Posted at 6:32 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-08 08:35:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Republicans will select their candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General this weekend using an unprecedented “unassembled” convention format.

Registered party delegates, approved by their local committees, will cast ballots at 39 locations throughout Virginia, and those votes will be hand-counted at the downtown Richmond Marriot starting Sunday. RPV chairman Rich Anderson said close to 54,000 Republicans registered for the convention.

“It’s been one of the busiest weeks of my life,” Anderson said. “We have layered on multiple protections that I believe will ensure the integrity of the ballot and therefore a correct counting process and a legitimate outcome all can accept.”

COVID-19 gathering limits prevented the party from holding a traditional convention under one roof, and leading up to this point, there was pitched debate over whether the GOP should host a primary instead.

Not only will the party choose their statewide candidates, but white-hot attention will also be leveled on the process. Some GOP officials, both nationally and in Virginia, made claims of widespread fraud during the November 2020 elections, but those claims were unfounded.

“Politics is not a clean orderly business, so we’ll just navigate through all that. But I can give my solemn pledge that I’ve been completely agnostic about the outcomes,” Anderson said.

Ballots cast Friday and Saturday at voting locations will be transported by designated local party officials to the Richmond Marriott, where the counting and tabulation process is set to begin Sunday afternoon.

The RPV said they have extensive security measures in place, like tamper-proof tape on all ballot boxes, off-duty law enforcement on-site around the clocks, and live feed video cameras during the tabulation process.

Anderson said campaign staff will be allowed inside the counting room throughout the process and even allowed to travel with the ballot box couriers on the way to Richmond prior to that.

“We owe it to our candidates, our voters, and the general public that there is legitimacy to all this process,” he said.

GOP delegates will use ranked-choice voting for all three races. If no candidate reaches 50% of the vote the first time, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated, and the vote of delegates who listed that person first will be redistributed to other candidates based on their next highest ranked choice.

Anderson said at the request of several campaigns, tabulation teams will count every ballot by hand, each round for each race.

“With 50,000-plus delegates, you could end up going through these ballots just for Governor in a way where you’re counting a quarter million ballots. One piece of paper but with recompilations the equivalent of counting a quarter million ballots,” he said.

The RPV has rented out the Marriott’s ballroom through next Thursday in case counting and processing the results takes that long. Anderson said he expects it will be Monday at the earliest before a winner is declared in any of the three races.

Virginia Republicans have not won a statewide race since 2009 when Bob McDonnell led a GOP sweep of the executive offices.

“We’ve been in the wilderness, in terms of statewide office,” Anderson said. “Republicans are ready to win, and I think you see that play out in these huge numbers of registered delegates as well as the huge number of candidates.”

Seven Republicans are seeking the nomination for Governor, six for Lt. Governor, and four for Attorney General.

GOP Candidates for Governor

GOP Candidates for Lt. Governor

GOP Candidates for Attorney General

Virginia Democrats will choose their party’s statewide nominees during an open primary next month.