- Published on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:20
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Just like our un-winter, the upcoming GOP Presidential primary is being called the un-primary. With only two candidates, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, having managed to collect the daunting number of signatures needed to get on the ballot, Republican voters don’t have much of a choice. Or do they?
Mitt Romney has failed to capture the heart of the Republican Party. Even his supporters don’t seem enthusiastic. There is none of the passion I have seen in years past for other Republican nominees. As for the conservative base - the folks who figure the strongest in picking the nominee - there is a wide range of reactions. Some loathe Romney. In fact, some, I suspect, if asked, are more likely to give Barack Obama a kind word than they are the former Massachusetts Governor. Some, however,
are more optimistic. Many of these are party stalwarts, often following the lead of the party leadership. They hope, that maybe, just maybe, his recent conversion to conservatism is for real. As for others, they figure that 2012 is already a lost cause and that Obama is going to win anyway. They have already opted out.They don’t plan to vote in the primary, and who knows, if Romney wins the nomination they might stay home in November as well.
There is one other unique factor in this year’s Virginia presidential primary. Virginia’s Governor, a conservative Republican, normally not one you would expect to support a nominee like Romney, is working hard for Mitt Romney. Sadly, it has little to do with ideology and a lot to do with our Governor’s desire to be Romney’s pick for Vice President.
Some would say that Romney’s nomination is a foregone conclusion, simply because there is no other viable nominee left. Rick Santorum is still in there fighting, but his long-term prospects, aren’t that promising. But Santorum, and others, in various rear guard actions, like the ones I am going to suggest, might be successful enough to leave the nomination in doubt when the Republicans meet in Tampa later this year. At that point, seeing Romney’s weakness, and the dissatisfaction of the Republican base with his nomination, the delegates might be willing to look for an alternative.
That’s where Virginia comes in. On primary day, Virginia Republicans don’t have to go to the polls and blindly support a candidate they don’t believe in. Virginia Republicans are not sheep. Indeed, they are amongst some of the most independent minded conservatives in the nation. So, what can a Virginia Republican primary voter do? Well, for one thing, they can go to the polls, and if they don’t want Romney, they don’t have to vote for him. Some are planning to do this by not going to the polls at all. That’s a reaction I’ve heard from many. However, that’s a lot like voting for Romney. Nobody is going to be paying attention to turnout. So, rather than blindly letting Romney walk away with a win in the Commonwealth, here is an alternative to consider.
For some Republicans, given his quirky stands on the issues, voting for Ron Paul might take some doing. He is definitely in a political world of his own. But, he’s one of the most friendly members of congress, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and isn’t, factoring out a few of his oddball positions, wrong about everything. He’s a libertarian conservative and he is the only alternative to Romney on the March 6 Virginia Republican primary ballot. There is very little chance he will win, but if he got a large enough percentage of the vote, or even, and this would take a miracle, if he won, the Romney campaign would take a serious blow. And what’s more, it would put many in the leadership of the party in the position of having to look for alternatives. All at once, the convention, normally a coronation, could become the last chance the Republicans have to pick a strong candidate to take on the President.
In most elections there is the alternative of a write-in. In some rare occasions, for local offices, and even once for the House of Delegates, write-ins have even won in Virginia. However, in the case of our Virginia Republican presidential primary, write-ins aren’t allowed. That means a Republican primary voter only has two choices. Not very democratic, but this is a party primary, and the rules that usually govern the electoral process in the fall don’t necessarily apply in the primary.
Naturally, with the Governor firmly supporting Romney, the Republican party establishment in the Old Dominion is anxious to make sure that Virginia’s “un-primary” is as uneventful as possible. They don’t want any grass roots rebellions or protest votes. However, if the bulk of the GOP base decides they want to say they don’t like the candidate who claims to be the presumed nominee, they can at least make some noise. And, who knows, the sound may resonate more loudly than they think.