Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling came out strongly Friday against an attempt by newly elected Republican Party officials to hold a convention next year to nominate its candidate for governor, warning it would divide the party and could spark a lawsuit.
Tea Party-backed Republicans who favor the convention - and Bolling's likely Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - won about two dozen spots on the Republican Party State Central Committee, the GOP’s governing body, in recent local elections. Already, an effort is underway to switch the 2013 primary election to a convention, which favors conservative candidates like Cuccinelli because it shuts out independent and moderate voters.
The matter is expected to come up for a vote at the party’s June 15 meeting. GOP officials voted last year to hold a primary in 2013.
Bolling sent a letter Friday to the committee saying the party’s decision last year to hold a primary was a settled matter and changing it would be "unwise, unprecedented and unfair." He noted that four other GOP candidates have announced plans to run for statewide office in 2013 and would be affected by the change.
“This issue and its implications on [the state Republican Party] and our candidates go well beyond the simple question of holding a primary or a convention,” Bolling wrote. “It involves fundamental questions of fairness and the proper application of the rule of law.”
Bolling’s outrage isn’t unexpected. He has the most to lose if the party switches from a primary.
Bolling leaned on his top ally, Gov. Bob McDonnell, to convince the state party to stick with the primary.
“I would also note that if the SCC sets the precedent of rescinding the nomination method at the June meeting there would be nothing to prevent the SCC from changing back to a primary at the August or December meeting if a couple of seats or minds are changed,” Bolling said. “Our party cannot afford this type of unpredictability and confusion.”