Virginia Republican Party

Republican Party of Virginia
Chairman Pat Mullins
Senate leader President Pro Tem of the Senate: Walter Stosch
House leader Speaker of the House: William J. Howell
Founded 1854
Headquarters Obenshain Center
115 E. Grace St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Ideology Center-right
Economic liberalism
National affiliation Republican Party
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) is the Virginia chapter of the Republican Party. It is based in the Richard D. Obenshain Center in Richmond in the Commonwealth of Virginia.[1]

Organization and candidate selection

The State Party Plan[2] specifies the organization of the state party and how candidates will be selected. The 79-member State Central Committee sets the policy and plans for the party between larger State Conventions, which gather at least once every four years.

Candidates for elective office can be selected by (1) mass meetings, (2) party canvasses, (3) conventions, or (4) primaries. A mass meeting consists of a meeting where any participants must remain until votes are taken at the end. A party canvass or "firehouse primary" allows participants to arrive anytime during announced polling hours, cast a secret ballot, and then leave. A convention includes a process for selecting delegates, and then only the delegates may vote. Mass meetings, party canvasses and conventions are conducted by party officials and volunteers. Primaries are administered by the State Board of Elections at all established polling places. Because Virginia does not have party registrations, participation in primaries are open to any register voter regardless of party. However, on June 15, 2006, the Plan was amended to redefine a primary:

"Primary" is as defined in and subject to the Election Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, except to the extent that any provisions of such laws conflict with this Plan, infringe the right to freedom of association, or are otherwise invalid.

At the same time, the Plan was amended to require participants in any of the candidate selection methods to "express in open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required their intent to support all [Republican] nominees for public office in the ensuing election".

The candidate selection process has been criticized as favoring "party insiders" and disfavoring moderate candidates. For example, both Jim Gilmore and the more moderate Thomas M. Davis were seeking the 2008 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. However, two weeks following the decision that the candidate will be selected at a convention instead of a primary,[3] Davis announced that he would not seek the nomination.

Open primary litigation

Virginia does not provide for voters to register by party. Virginia law requires "open" primaries that are not restricted based on party registration:

All persons qualified to vote... may vote at the primary. No person shall vote for the candidates of more than one party.[4]

In 2004, the Republican Party amended the State Party Plan to attempt to restrict participation in primaries to exclude voters who had voted in a Democratic primary after March 1, 2004, or in the last five years, whichever is more recent. In August 2004, Stephen Martin, an incumbent State Senator, designated that the Republican candidate for his seat in the November 2007 election should be selected by primary. The Republicans then sued the State Board of Elections demanding a closed primary be held, with taxpayer funding of a mechanism to exclude voters who had participated in past Democratic primaries.[5]

The Federal District Court dismissed the suit on standing and ripeness grounds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and sent the case back for a trial on its merits. The District Court then ruled that the rule forcing a party to accept the choice of its incumbent office holder of an open primary was unconstitutional. The state could continue to hold open primaries if a party opted for a primary instead of a mass meeting, party canvass, or convention to choose its nominees.[6] On October 1, 2007, the Fourth Circuit affirmed this holding, which largely left Virginia's primary system intact, striking down only the rule allowing an incumbent officeholder to choose an open primary over the objection of his or her party.[7]

The Republican State Central Committee dropped plans to require voters to sign a loyalty oath before voting in the February 2008 Presidential Primary. The party had proposed to require each voter to sign a pledge stating "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President." However, there was no way to enforce the pledge, and the proposal caused vocal public opposition.[8]

Richard D. Obenshain Center

The party headquarters building is named the Richard D. Obenshain Center in memory of Richard D. Obenshain (1936–1978), the State Party Chairman who beginning in 1972, helped lead the party's renaissance in Virginia following 95 years of virtual control by the State's Democratic Party (since Reconstruction except when William Mahone and the Readjuster Party coalition dominated affairs for a few years).

In 1978, "Dick" Obenshain had won the party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Senator William Scott when the 42-year old candidate and two others were killed in an airplane crash of a twin engine aircraft on August 2, 1978 while attempting a night landing at the Chesterfield County Airport. They had been returning to Richmond from a campaign appearance.


Current leadership

Pat Mullins was elected interim Chairman of the RPV in a meeting of the State Central Committee on May 3, 2009, and was selected as Chairman at the State Convention on May 30, 2009.

Past leadership (2004-2009)

Kate Obenshain Griffin of Winchester became the party's chairman in 2004. Following Senator George Allen's unsuccessful 2006 reelection bid, Griffin submitted her resignation as Chairman effective November 15, 2006. Her brother, Mark Obenshain, is a State Senator from Harrisonburg in the Virginia General Assembly. Both are the children of the late Richard D. Obenshain.

Ed Gillespie was elected as the new Chairman of the RPV on December 2, 2006. He resigned on June 13, 2007 to become the counselor to President George W. Bush. Mike Thomas served as interim chairman until July 21 when former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia John H. Hager was elected chairman. On April 9, 2007 the RPV named Fred Malek to serve as the Finance Chairman and Lisa Gable to serve as the Finance Committee Co-Chair.[9]

On May 31, 2008, Hager was defeated in his bid for re-election at a statewide GOP convention by a strongly conservative member of the House of Delegates, Jeff Frederick of Prince William County. Frederick, who was then 32 years old, was the 5th party chairman in 5 years. The following year, Frederick was removed from the position by RPV's State Central Committee,[10][11] with the backing of most the senior GOP establishment. Many argued that Frederick's election and later removal was a war within the party between insiders and outsiders[12] (or grassroots versus establishment[13]). After his removal, Frederick considered seeking the chairman job again at the party's 2009 convention, but later declined.[14][15] On May 30, 2009, the State Convention selected former Fairfax party chairman and current Louisa chairman Pat Mullins to serve as party chair over Bill Stanley, the Frankin County party chairman. Many of Frederick's supporters supported Stanley in that race.[16] Frederick went on to win the Republican nomination for the 36th District state Senate seat in the 2011 election in the primary on August 23, 2011.[17]

Recent elections

2008 elections

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won Virginia's 13 electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election, taking 1.96 million votes (52.6%) to Republican nominee John McCain's 1.73 million votes (46.3%).[18][19] Democrat Mark Warner soundly defeated Republican Jim Gilmore in Virginia's U.S. Senate race by a margin of 65%-34%.[20] In the House elections, two Republican incumbents, Virgil Goode and Thelma Drake, were unseated, with Goode losing to Democrat Tom Perriello by just 727 votes.[21][22] Democrat Gerry Connolly took the open seat held by the retiring Republican Tom Davis.[23] As a result of the 2008 elections, Democrats took control of both the state's U.S. Senate seats and the state's House delegation.[22]

2009 elections

Special elections

The Republican Party sought to reverse its November 2008 losses in a series of special elections which historically draw low voter turnout. In the January 13 special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Delegate Brian Moran to run for Governor, Democrat Charniele Herring became the first African-American woman from Northern Virginia to be elected to the House of Delegates, defeating Republican candidate Joe Murray by 16 votes.[24] She was seated on Jan. 26, following repeated efforts by the Republican caucus to delay her seating until a recount could be completed.[25]

Because Gerry Connolly was elected to Congress from the 11th District, a special election was held on February 3 to fill his seat as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. In that election, about 16% of the registered voters participated, and Democrat Sharon Bulova defeated Republican Pat Herrity by 1,206 votes. Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party told the Washington Post, "In November, we got our clocks cleaned. Three months later, even in a special this was a squeaker. That's good news for Republicans."[26]

Another special election was held to fill Bulova's Braddock District board seat on March 10.[26] Republican John Cook won the seat by 89 votes.[27]

Statewide elections

Virginia and New Jersey were the only states to hold statewide elections in 2009. The Republicans selected their candidates at a State Convention held on May 29–30, 2009 in Richmond. Former Attorney General of Virginia Bob McDonnell was nominated for Governor. "His candidacy is part of a Republican renaissance that starts this year in Virginia," said Michael Steele chair of the Republican National Committee.[16] Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who declined to run for governor to avoid a primary fight with McDonnell, defeated Patrick Muldoon for the Lieutenant Governor nomination.[16][28] State Senator Ken Cuccinelli, who the Washington Post described as "one of the most conservative members of the General Assembly," defeated John Brownlee and David M. Foster for the Attorney General nomination.[16]

All three candidates won handily in the November elections, in a victory for Republicans that was seen as a rebuke of the Democratic Party's policies in the White House and Congress.[29]

House of Delegates elections

All 100 House seats were up for election in 2009. Republicans took nine seats held by Democrats while just one Democrat took a seat held by a Republican, for a net gain of eight seats and a 59-seat majority.

2010 elections

Special elections

On January 12, 2010, in a special election for the 37th State Senate district, Democrat Dave W. Marsden beat Republican Steve M. Hunt by a 327 vote margin.[30] In the 8th State Senate district, Republican Jeff L. McWaters beat Democrat William W. "Bill" Fleming by a vote of 78-21%.[31] On March 2, 2010, Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn was elected to fill Marsden's Delegate seat by 37 votes, out of 11,528 cast. Because the vote margin was within 0.5%, the state will pay for a recount.[32][33] She was sworn in on March 3, 2010 after her opponent dropped his plans to request a recount.[34]

Congressional elections

All of the state's 11 U.S. House seats were up for election in 2010 (neither U.S. Senate seat was up for election). Republicans picked up three seats held by Democrats. Auto dealer Scott Rigell defeated freshman Democratic incumbent Glenn Nye 53%-42% in the 2nd District.[35][36] Attorney Robert Hurt defeated freshman Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello 51%-47% in the 5th District.[36][37] And House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith defeated 28-year Democratic incumbent Rick Boucher 51%-46% in the 9th District.[36][38] With the election, Republicans now hold 8 of Virginia's 11 House seats.

After Republicans took control of the U.S. House in the elections, Virginia Republican Eric Cantor of the 7th District was elected House Majority Leader.[39]

2011 elections

On November 8, 2011, Republicans got control of the State Senate with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling as the tie breaking vote and increased their majority in the State House to a 68 seat vote margin making it the GOP's largest majority in history. And with that, captured their second government trifecta since the Reconstruction Era.

Current elected officials

The Virginia Republican Party controls all three statewide offices and holds a majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. While Republicans control neither U.S. Senate seat, they hold 8 of the state's 11 U.S. House seats.

Members of Congress

U.S. House of Representatives

Statewide offices

See also

Virginia portal


External links

  • Republican Party of Virginia
  • College Republican Federation of Virginia
  • Virginia Public Access Project
  • Official website for 2007 Transportation law

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