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Bolling urges Republicans to stick with 2013 primary, oppose convention favored by rival Cuccinelli

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is urging state Republicans against a move to switch next year’s nomination method from a primary to a convention.

Republican Party of Virginia leaders decided last fall to use a primary to nominate candidates in 2013. That includes candidates for governor, of which Bolling is one.

The party’s other declared gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, favors a convention, and would be likely to fare better than rival Bolling in a convention.

Recent elections to party posts around the state put more Cuccinelli supporters in power, and since then there has been talk that party leaders will consider rescinding last year’s vote and changing the nomination method at an RPV meeting two weeks from now.

Today Bolling sent a letter to members of the party’s state central committee, arguing against a change.

“I strongly oppose any effort to change the 2013 method of nomination,” Bolling wrote.

He said he prefers primaries, but also believes that changing an already-established decision would set bad precedent.

“Once the SCC determines a method of nomination, I believe it is improper and unfair to candidates and Republican voters to change the rules in the middle of the game,” Bolling wrote. “On October 1, 2011 the SCC voted overwhelmingly to hold a primary in 2013 in order for all potential candidates to know the playing field before making their decision to run for statewide office. The SCC has held three meetings since October 1, 2011. The question of changing the method of nomination did not come up at any of these meetings. Clearly, as a practical matter, the time for reconsidering such a decision under the rules has passed, and any attempt to change the rules during the middle of an election may raise legal issues as well.”

Bolling said several candidates — including himself — have geared their campaigns toward a 2013 primary.

“These decisions would have been very different if the candidates knew they were running in a convention. This money cannot be unspent and this time cannot be regained,” he said.

Bolling said conventions limit voter participation and prevent military personnel from participating, as they’re not allowed to be delegates at political conventions.

Finally, Bolling argued, a convention would be too expensive. He said the party’s 2009 convention left the party in debt.