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Virginia Republicans pick candidates at 'unassembled' convention; vote tally underway

Posted at 9:35 PM, May 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 13:02:10-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Virginia Republicans selected their candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general this weekend using an unprecedented "unassembled" convention format.

Registered party delegates, approved by their local committees, had the chance to 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.

“Oh this is highly unusual," Jennifer Moschella said. “I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to make my voice heard and help select someone who would help us retain and stand up for our rights here in Virginia."

Moschella was one of the registered delegates who voted in the convention, which is typically held under one roof, but because of COVID-19 was spaced out at different polling locations across the state.

“I’m not a big fan of it. I don’t think it was really the best move," Moschella said. "I appreciate when more people are able to have their voice heard.“

She and other punched their ticket for who they would like to see as governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

“I just feel it's very important for us to make sure we have folks in these positions of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general who are going to stand up for our rights and make sure there isn’t a continued encroachment," Moschella said.

“In this climate today, we feel an obligation to vote," Woody Scott added.

Scott and her husband, Giles, made their vote count in Chesterfield Saturday morning. They believe November's election is critical for their party as Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia in 12 years.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for the Republican ticket and also a lot of enthusiasm by this ranked choice voting too," Giles Scott said. "Because even if your first choice candidate doesn’t win on the first round, there’s still a chance.”

RELATED: Virginia voters are slightly conservative moderates who side with Democrats on key issues, survey says

Four Republicans — Amanda Chase, Kirk Cox, Pete Snyder and Glenn Youngkin — are competing in the race for governor in Virginia.

None of the four top-tier candidates - Pete Snyder, Amanda Chase, Kirk Cox and Glenn Youngkin - have established themselves as a clear front-runner. As a result, under the ranked-choice voting system the GOP is using, the winner will almost certainly need to be the second choice of numerous voters, and perhaps even the third choice, to secure the nomination.

Under the ranked-choice system - which has been adopted in Maine, Alaska, and a growing number of local elections around the country - voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives an outright majority, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and that candidate's votes are reallocated to whomever those voters listed as their second preference.

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 and live feed video cameras during the tabulation process.

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 issued the following statement Saturday in response to the GOP convention:

“Every Republican candidate for governor has two things in common: they are completely committed to Donald Trump, and they are too extreme for Virginia.

"From spouting Trump’s most unhinged election conspiracy theories, to opposing critical COVID-19 relief, to threatening to gut Virginians' health care, these candidates have spent their entire primary alienating the vast majority of Virginians.

"Whoever the Virginia GOP nominates at this chaotic convention has already spent months taking extreme, out-of-touch positions — and their sprint to the far-right will only continue after today."

Democrats will choose their nominee from among five candidates next month in a state-run primary with no runoff. Whoever gets the most votes will win it, even if no one gets a majority.