But really, have they ever gone away? We are again wading into the dangerous waters of the RPV method of nomination for both president in 2016 and governor in 2017. The usual hyperbole and angst has emerged like it always does, a classic case of insiders fighting other insiders over something that does not have the effects either side claims. The fact is there is no better way to nominate a candidate, and I am still frankly baffled as to how we have allowed this question to continue to divide us. It’s mostly about power and the convention has been used by the faction that is in power to exert itself over the faction that is not. And before I hear establishmentarians whine about conventions I will remind them that their hero Bill Bolling excitedly presided over the 2008 convention (which I attended) that was used to effectively shut out Northern Virginia,Tom Davis and Bob Marshall from any influence within the party. Conventions were just fine in 2008 for guys like Bolling who ran it to ensure the nomination of Jim Gilmore. I will also remind by liberty friends that their crowning achievement, Dave Brat’s defeat of Eric Cantor, was done via primary.
Beneath the hot rhetoric, the facts remain stubborn. There is no conclusive evidence that either method does what each side claims it does. Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling were nominated by primary in 2005 and won, then nominated by convention in 2009 and also won. Primaries naturally attract more voters than conventions, but our primary turnout has been embarrassingly low. The 2012 primary, no matter who you blame, was an utter embarrassment for the entire party and set the state back in the eyes of the national party. While many sneer that EW Jackson was nominated at the 2013 convention, that roster of candidates was so bad I’m willing to bet that Jackson would have taken a primary, too. The fact is the nominating process isn’t the problem, it's just what the factions are warring over today. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.
At the end of the day, campaigns are won by good candidates. Good candidates can win primaries and they can win conventions. Ed Gillespie won a convention and ran a great campaign. Dave Brat won a primary and ran a great campaign. Our various local and state candidates nominated this year by different methods will win or lose not in how they were nominated but in how good the campaign and candidate is. Do you have the candidate, team, message, and money to win? If the answer is yes, it shouldn’t matter how you are nominated. If that is what you are obsessing over or complaining about, you won’t win anyways.
This fight that flairs up all the time drives me insane. Absolutely insane. It’s almost as if it’s not even important who actually gets their way, it’s now just used as a way to attack the other side. You want to shrink the party! No, you hate the grassroots! I know who is going to say what before it’s even written or spoken. It’s as predictable as it is annoying. Do you know what grows the party? Good candidates and good campaigns. Do you know who gets the grassroots behind them? Good candidates and good campaigns. It’s really that simple. You show me a candidate or campaign that does nothing but bitch and moan about the method of nomination and I’ll show you a sure loser. So as far as what RPV decides to do regarding 2016 or 2017, I honestly don’t care. The cream rises to the top and I’m willing to bet that every candidate that won their nomination through primary could have won through convention and vis versa. It’s a proxy internal fight used to attack fellow Republicans and the most passionate defenders of either side generally are people not actually putting their names forward as candidates. The candidates that that win will always win because they are better candidates with better campaigns.
Forget the nomination process. Shut up and go win.