This most recent Saturday, delegates from throughout the 6th congressional district in Virginia gathered at the Rockbridge County High School in Lexington for a GOP convention. The purpose of this regional convention was to elect delegates and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, select three new members of the State Central Committee (the governing board of the Republican Party of Virginia), pick regional vice chairmen for the district, elect a person to cast the region’s electoral vote in November should the GOP win, and install a chairman of the 6th district Republican Party.
The event kicked off shortly after 10 AM and ran until about 3 PM or so. Needless to say, it was a long day. A seemingly never-ending supply of speeches dominated a majority of the time. Not only did each of the candidates that were to be voted upon at the convention have a chance to speak, but so did the 2012 House and Senate primary candidates, the 2013 statewide candidates, and the national committeeman and national committeewoman. Personally, I would have cut out the 2013 candidates and the national committee people, not because they aren’t important, but just for the simple fact that there were more pressing matters and the convention ran long enough without them.
Certainly the most interesting element to the whole affair had to be the outcome of the voting. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), a lot of new, liberty-minded candidates emerged victorious over the old guard. Hinting at this trend, prior to voting, some activists passed out cards with either the Ron Paul logo or the Gadsden Flag encouraging delegates to vote for a slate of candidates. Can you guess what happened? Every single one of these listed candidates won. Some notable losses were: Wendell Walker, the 6th district chairman, who did not claim a spot as a national delegate. Neither did Suzanne Curran, a long-time activist after whom the RPV names one of their annual events. And Trixie Averill, a former chairwoman of the 6th district, lost her bid to return to the state central committee.
Although I haven’t seen any news outlets reporting it, the Ron Paul delegation did exceeding well. Yes, each of the three 6th district national delegates are bound to vote for Mitt Romney on the first ballot at the national convention due to the fact that Romney won the district in the March 6th primary. However, Ron Paul will sweep the district should the national convention go to a second ballot given the stated principles of the winning delegates.
If the audience reaction was any indication, Karen Kwiatkowski seemed to enjoy a greater level of support from the attendees than the incumbent, Representative Bob Goodlatte. In an unexpected move, Mike McHugh, a candidate for the regional vice chair position in the northern part of the district, removed his outer clothing at the end of his time on stage revealing a bright red shirt proclaiming his desire to “fire Bob” Goodlatte.
Given the apparent inability of the establishment to succeed at the convention, I was a bit surprised that no one challenged Mr. Walker for the position of district chairman. Yes, his name appeared on the card above, but was it listed there only because he faced no opposition? After all, although listed for chairman, he was not listed as a delegate. I do have to wonder that if he did face an opponent with the same principles of many of the other winning candidates at the convention, would he too have been replaced?
Nevertheless, Republicans who wish to push the party back toward the principles of a limited, constitutional government ought to be generally pleased with Saturday’s outcome. Are Valley conservatives once again “Republican for a reason”? However, a huge question that still needs to be answered is can they translate this success into nominating and electing conservatives candidates who share these values? It is difficult to say for certain, but the Republican primary on June 12th will be the next great test.