LESSONS ON BECOMING IRRELEVANT
Just when it seemed our Commonwealth’s Republican leaders couldn’t do anything more to increase their appearance of stupidity, scarcity thinking, or risibility, the Virginia elephant has come up with a new dance move. No, it’s not pretty.
The Blue Ridge Forum blog has some updates, particularly the little item concerning what is required in order to vote in the Republican presidential primary in March. When you get to your polling place – SURPRISE! – you have to sign a loyalty oath.
For real, folks. Something smells rotten in Richmond.
BRF quotes the Richmond paper:
“The state Republican Party will require voters to sign a loyalty oath in order to participate in the March 6 presidential primary. Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign will be barred from voting in the primary. ..”
They may be trying to insure that no one shows up to vote? Such an outcome would give them more leverage in deciding who “wins” this one. As if anyone at the national level will care when this farce is over. And what do you think a loyalty oath from a yellow dog Democrat is worth?
BRF quotes another fellow, a long-time conservative leader who remembers his history:
“How many conservative Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan in ‘Republican’ primaries in 1980? Would they have voted in a Republican primary that required a loyalty oath when Reagan was probably the only Republican they would vote for? I doubt it.”
Yes, we do actually have ‘conservative’ Democrats here in Virginia. They voted for Obama, even though his socialist politics are 180 degrees away from their own world view.
But for the most part, at the state level they vote for Republicans like our current governor. And don’t get me started on him. The man is an opportunist who plays footsie with the Beltway Muslim Brotherhood big time. What a disappointment he and our Attorney General have turned out to be. Whoever has the money gets their attention.
Read the whole post here. You can also search his archives for the inroads Islam is making in Virginia politics. It’s far worse than you think.
The noises coming from the public regarding Virginia’s Republican presidential primary process are mostly sounds of angry disbelief. Believe it, y’all: the Commonwealth’s GOP is feckless, reckless, and has a lousy customer service record.
The latest snafu is a change (as of two months ago) regarding the hoops candidates must jump through in order to qualify for the Republican primary. The equation’s factors are political ‘thinking’ times lawyerese. The result is explained here; it’s the most succinct of the dozens I’ve read[my emphasis below -D]:
Virginia’s statutory ballot access requirement is, quite simply, one of if not the most daunting in the country: A minimum of 10,000 petition signatures collected statewide, including at least 400 from each of its 11 congressional districts. That’s hard enough. But then there are the additional restrictions: the petition circulators must be registered or eligible to vote in Virginia. The signatures must be gathered using the State Board of Elections’ official form, a two-page document which must be reproduced as double-sided. (Single-sided stapled forms are not accepted.) Signatures must be collected on forms that are specific to each city, county and congressional district. Only “qualified” voters may sign a petition. And every single petition form must be sworn and notarized.
Want a sense of how next-to-impossible this is? I know top-flight Virginia political consultants who turned down lucrative petition project contracts from presidential campaigns because they did not think it could be done.
And then there’s the Republican Party of Virginia, which is tasked by law with the responsibility of certifying which candidates have qualified for primary ballot access. RPV has effectively raised the statutory requirement of 10,000/400 by a factor of 50% this year by offering this safe harbor: the Party first will conduct a facial review of all petitions, and candidates who submit at least 15,000 signatures and 600 from each congressional district will be presumed to have met the statutory 10,000/400 requirement. Candidates who submit 14,999 or fewer, however, will undergo signature-by-signature scrutiny of his or her petitions—something no statewide candidate in recent memory ever has had to endure.*
For many years, the Virginia GOP generally selected its nominees in conventions. But the Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia litigation, which challenged RPV’s mandatory convention registration fees as poll taxes, caused the Party temporarily to abandon conventions in favor of primaries.
The first statewide petition drive post-Morse was in the 1996 Republican U.S. Senate primary. Then came the 1997 primaries for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and in 2000, the Republican presidential and U.S. Senate primaries.
Each successive petition drive has gotten harder and harder as volunteers have grown more and more tired of the arduous, tedious work it takes to gather thousands upon thousands of signatures in ever more frequent petition drives. The drives have gotten more expensive, too, as campaigns have resorted to paying volunteers to incent (sic) their efforts. What should be a test of a campaign’s organization and grassroots has become a drain on them—exhausting volunteers and siphoning away money better spent contacting voters, delivering messages, identifying supporters and driving turnout, all important objectives that petition drives have proven worthless at advancing.
In 2008, two presidential candidates very nearly failed to meet the minimum requirement of 400 signatures from the Third Congressional District and almost missed the ballot as a result. Which brings us to this year, when it is probable that at least one and possibly more of the major GOP candidates will fail to qualify for the Virginia ballot.
This is especially unfortunate because this year, for the first time in decades, the GOP nomination likely will not be all-but decided before Virginia’s primary, and thus Virginia’s primary will truly matter.
But due to Virginia’s unreasonable ballot access requirements, all the surviving candidates may not be on the Virginia ballot—which means those candidates wouldn’t campaign here, and Virginia’s voters would have fewer choices. Even as Virginia has moved up in the primary calendar, it risks marginalizing itself in the presidential selection process as its petition drives become harder and more expensive, and as more candidates fail to succeed or even to attempt them.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A few years ago, the Virginia Democrats circulated one petition on behalf of all primary candidates, but the Republican Party of Virginia has not seen fit to follow that sensible step.
Many other states require merely the filing of a few forms and payment of a filing fee—and in the case of South Carolina, a substantial one at that. No doubt Virginia’s political parties—notoriously cash-hungry due to our anything-goes system of campaign finance in which individuals and corporations can contribute unlimited sums directly to candidates—could use such a financial shot in the arm every four years.
For all candidates who have met the statutory requirement, I think the Party’s plan to scrutinize some candidates’ signatures and not others, based upon the arbitrary standard of whether the candidates submitted a full 50% more than the statutory requirement, violates the Equal Protection Clause under Bush v. Gore. It seems to me that all candidates who facially meet the statutory requirement should have their petitions and signatures adjudged according to the same standard.
The only thing he forgot to mention was that this Republican primary, to be held in March, is not “closed”. Registered Democrats are free to wander into the polling place in their district and skew the outcome if they want to do so. Virginia Democrats are a tad better than, say, the ones in Illinois, but only because they are not subjected to the degree of unionization the latter has exploited for benefit of the Dems since whenever. Given the feckless reckless GOP in our Commonwealth, I don’t doubt the Democrats will take advantage. And given the stupidity of the primary access rules for candidates, that primary process will be meaningless with only Romney and Paul featured.
For anyone who wants to comment on this post, please remember that the subject is the rules of the GOP primary in Virginia. This is not the time to discuss the virtues or vices of either candidate. Those food fights can be found all over the internet — here’s John Bolton’s take on one of them. For the moment, though, we’ll avoid entering the fray. Right now there is too much jostling for position, too much posturing.
This latest machine breakdown in the Commonwealth’s GOP is simply more of the same. Kind of like the ineptness to be found at the National Committee level.