Why a primary over a convention?
There are several reasons. First and foremost, a primary encourages the party to seek out beyond it’s narrow parameters and get more people involved. The bigger our party, the bigger our mandate. The smaller our party, the bigger the Democrat’s mandate. We cannot win on the strength of hardcore conservatives alone, and excluding everybody but from the process gives the Democrats a head start.
Second, running a statewide campaign is more difficult than it sounds, and folks like Ken Cuccinelli, John Brownlee, and Dave Foster would do themselves well for a “pre-season”, if you will, of running a full statewide campaign with a full statewide vote before going into the general election. Preparing the organization now for a statewide primary means that you will already have a well-oiled machine in place if you’re the eventual nominee.
Third, it gives you credibility in the general. Rather than being the best at making backroom deals and securing the votes of insiders, you secure the vote of real voters, people who may have never heard of you before, and people who will be voting in November.
Fourth, a convention does not, as some believe, ensure that conservatives are able to choose the best nominee. Take this year for example, when we had a choice between Jim “pro-choice for the first eight weeks” Gilmore and Bob “protectionist” Marshall. And for the bevy of Marshall supporters that I know read this blog, let me assure you that Marshall would have equally stood no chance against Mark Warner as Jim Gilmore currently does.
I’ve never heard of Tim Boyer before, but I have heard the rumors of a McDonnell/Cuccinelli rift before. Frankly, I don’t buy the reasons. I don’t buy that Jim Gilmore was such a protected icon within the party establishment that McDonnell would exact vengence for those supporting Marshall. And speaking as a Ken Cuccinelli supporter, I would much rather Ken win the nomination by primary (something I believe he would have no problem doing). But no matter who you support (and I know the conservative blogosphere is divided), I hope everyone can agree that primaries are much more healthy for our party than conventions.