Aesop’s Fables includes a story about a fox and and a bunch of grapes (here) that were tantalizing just out of reach. Try as he might, the fox could not reach the grapes. So to console himself, he decided the grapes must be sour. Similarly, Lucy Beauchamp finds the Republican nomination for Clerk of the Circuit Court tantalizingly just out of reach.
According to today’s Prince William Extra in the Washington Post (not on-line yet), Lucy Beauchamp, currently the Chair of the Prince William County School Board, will run as an independent for Prince William County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court. Beauchamp complains that the Republican Party unfairly decided to hold a convention instead of a primary. Moreover, she says the location chosen for the convention favors her opponent.
While Republicans have not always agreed with her, we do applaud Beauchamp’s years of public service. Thus Beauchamp’s immature histrionics as she withdraws from the convention race are most unfortunate. Not only does she look foolish, she makes the Republicans who supported her nomination for Clerk of the Circuit Court look foolish as well.
The Republican Party label has value because members of the Republican Party, not the entire voting electorate, select the nominee. Voters trust the members of the Republican Party to nominate those candidates who best represent the Republican Party’s principles (see here). However, when the Republican Party holds an open primary, the party surrenders control of the nomination process. Anyone can participate in the nomination, even a Democrat. As a consequence, the party credentials of primary winners are dubious.
This blog suggests that those sympathetic to Beauchamp’s complaint reconsider the first amendment to the Constitution (here). What does “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” mean? Doesn’t it have something to do with a group of people selecting a candidate for public office, one that is their choice?
Once they have power, people do not like to give it up. Given the opportunity, incumbent politicians will game the system to favor their reelection. The primary system is a way incumbents have devised to game the system. The primary system favors the better known candidate, the incumbent. In addition, the primary system undermines the influence of party regulars — allowing incumbents to retain the party label without adhering to party values.
Because party regulars know Beauchamp is the least Republican of the two candidates, she favors an open primary as the nomination method. Fortunately, when there is no incumbent, the party has a choice in the nomination method. Thus it now appears that Michele McQuigg will receive the party’s nomination Prince William County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court.