Let’s See What Happens
I’m not sure why I find the maneuverings at the Prince William GOP Committee so interesting. I sit here in Fairfax, where almost nothing interesting happens, so maybe this is my way of living vicariously.Â
Virginia Virtucon is reporting that Tom Kopko has a legal opinion in hand from RPV counselÂ that clears the way for a convention on the 19th of August to pick a candidate for the race to succeed Sean Connaughton.Â According toÂ Mr. Riley, this opinion will be unveiled tomorrow.Â Charles and a few others (including me) have asked why the rush.Â No one knows when Connaughton will be confirmed and sworn in, and no one really knows when Connaughton will formalize his resignation.Â A couple of commentators have askedÂ why RPV, as opposed to some unit of the Commonwealth’s electoral board, would make the decision.Â In an extreme hypothetical, something could go wrong with the Connaughton nomination and his run in 2007 for a third term will require a primary (Connaughton’s weapon of choice) while the GOP 2006 nominee becomes a “real nowhere man.”Â A candidate without and election.Â How messy.
I find it a little hard to believe RPV would be very excited about pre-vacancyÂ nominating conventions. It seems like a lot could go blooey with something like that.Â I’mÂ far from expert on the intricacies of Virginia election law, but tracing through the statutes generously posted byÂ Virtucon and others, it seems clear that, at least in Prince William, the vacancy is the catalyst that starts a process of a court-appointed election date, from which aÂ filing deadline isÂ constructed.Â Â Without a vacancy, nothing happens.Â When the vacancy falls within 60 days ofÂ a regularly scheduled general election, the Code contemplates that the general election date will coincide with the date of the special election.Â
Because 25 August is the filing deadline for the upcoming November 2006 general election, the rationale from the PW GOPÂ Committee seems to be that there must be aÂ nomination prior to that date or the GOP (and presuambly the Dems, also)will be without a candidate.Â The statute seems to anticipate that problem by giving the electoralÂ board the authority to designate a filing deadline (presumably distinct from that whichÂ governs the regularly-scheduled general election) .
At first I naively pooh-poohed the notion that the PW GOP Chairman would have any partisan position in what essentially is a intra-party process.Â It seems he himself has shown me toÂ have ridiculously over-estimated his judiciousnessÂ in his first outing of managing an importantÂ event for the Party.Â He has a candidate and must feel this quick response convention is a good thing for his guy.Â But,Â quite aside from that sort of tactical maneuvering, why would RPV want conventions to take place beforeÂ vacancies?Â Would RPV’s counsel opine on such a thing without close consultation with governing elements of RPV?Â I have no doubt Virtucon was told by Kopko or someone close to Kopko that they have an opinion in hand, but I’m very curious about the fineÂ points of theÂ “opinion”, andÂ its level of formality.Â I’d also be interested in the content of the input that led to the opinon (assuming that there is an opinion).Â Â Lawyers sometimes offer opinions thinking they understand the underlying facts, only to discover that some critical element has been omitted or misstated by the requesters.Â After getting burned a few times, one learns how to smoke that out or qualify it away.Â But if RPV counsel has issued an opinion clearing the way for a pre-vacancy nomination, it will be a hum-dinger and we all ought to give it a careful read.Â It will have to beÂ finely wrought indeed or the PW GOPÂ may beÂ about to get an omelette facial.Â And then we come to the next question of who decides.Â Is an RPV opinion the end of the story, or is the matter subject to guidance from local or state election authorities?Â
This willÂ no doubt be made clear in the fullness of time, starting tomorrow evening.Â My reservations may be entirely misplaced, but I have a feeling that even the kind of primitive brainstorming that I’ve been doing here has not taken place among whomever is making decisions at the PW GOP.Â WhatÂ do you think?