As Republicans brace for a showdown over how they will pick their nominees for statewide office in 2013, Senate candidate George Allen on Thursday made a strong case for why a primary is the best option.
Allen, who won the four-way primary for the GOP Senate nomination Tuesday, said conventions only engage a fraction of the party while primaries rally voters heading into November elections. In his long political career, he’s captured the nomination in both formats.
“It’s the difference between having a preseason game versus having a walk-through practice,” Allen said, also calling a convention “an intersquad scrimmage” because it typically only draws the most ardent Republicans.
“Most [people] would not go to a convention and listen to speeches all day,” he said.
The Republican State Central Committee will meet Friday for a little known, but potentially game-changing process to decide if a primary or convention is the way to go in 2013. Backers of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a gubernatorial candidate in next year’s race, appear to have won enough seats on the committee to switch to a convention.
The state party had previously agreed to hold a primary in 2013, which would benefit Cuccinelli’s likely opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who has broader appeal among independents and moderates.
Speaking after a campaign event in Arlington, Allen said he would supprt whatever decision the State Central Committee makes, but added: “You change the rules after the season, not in the middle of a contest.”
Allen has yet to endorse a candidate in the race to succeed Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Bolling backed Allen more than a year ago and was a key figure on the campaign trail in the days leading up to the primary contest. Cuccinelli endorsed Allen only after Allen locked up the party’s nomination Tuesday.