I arrived at about 8 AM. I registered so I could vote and then I went looking for Bob Marshall‘s suite. That is the place at the convention center where the Marshall folks conducted their campaign operations. When I arrived, I found the volunteers in prayer (good way to begin the day). Then they started discussing what people needed to do. What I did was grab a tee-shirt and a funny hat with a Marshall bumpersticker on it. After I stuck a small American flag on the top of the hat, I undoubtedly look quite goofy. Nonetheless, I am a fan of Bob Marshall‘s, and I was not going to let a little embarrassment keep people from knowing it.
Conventions are almost inevitably disorderly affairs. Because the people running them are often volunteers, they generally have limited experience. Moreover, we only have statewide conventions once per year at best, and there is not much opportunity to get any experience. So the convention started about 20 minutes late. Then we started going through a bunch of obligatory speeches, and the tension started to build. Would we win?
Whe I had arrived, I had noticed to my delight that many of the delegates were sporting small Bob Marshall for Senate stickers. In the convention hall, I now saw that most of the delegates seemed to be waving Bob Marshall signs. Great!
Finally the nominating speeches started. Jim Gilmore‘s speakers were conventional. They first several cited Gilmore’s accomplishments. Then we got a long string of delegates proudly seconding Gilmore’s nomination. While Marshall’s supporters waited patiently, Gilmore’s waved their signs.
Then dynamics abruptly changed. When nominating speeches began for Bob Marshall, the crowd roared its approval, and the speakers left no doubt about their heartfelt approval for Bob Marshall. So how did Jim Gilmore manage to win? The vote is weighted.
Composition of Convention
The State Convention shall be composed of delegates and alternate delegates of the respective units they represent. Representation shall be based on a percentage of the total number of Republican votes cast in each county and city in the last gubernatorial and presidential election combined. Each unit is allowed one (1) Delegate Vote for each two hundred fifty (250) Republican votes cast or major portion thereof. Each unit shall be entitled to at least one (1) Delegate Vote. The delegates and alternates shall be elected in county and city mass meetings, party canvasses or conventions that shall be called for this purpose in conformity with the Plan of Organization of the Republican Party of Virginia by each unit committee. (from the 2008-rpv-official-call)
To win, a candidate must compete statewide. Even if a candidate has the majority of the delegates at the convention, he will lose if those delegates all come from a relatively few parts of the state. Because Gilmore has already won several statewide races, and because he was backed by the party’s establishment, he began the race with a huge head start. Unfortunately for Gilmore, he did not consolidate that lead. Instead of being willing to honorably meet his opponent in serious debate, Gilmore first tried to ignore Marshall. Then he attacked Marshall’s reputation with transparently silly accusations. Thus Gilmore threw away his lead and nearly lost the race.
By less than 70 votes, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate yesterday.
Gilmore squeaked past Del. Bob Marshall at the Republican convention held here, winning 50.3 percent of the vote, or 5,222 votes to Marshall’s 5,156. He will face Democrat Mark Warner, also a former governor, in the November election. (from here)
Note that the paper provides the weighted vote. As LtGov Bill Bolling noted from the podium (the convention chairman), there were only about about 4000 delegates attending the convention.
Here are the vote totals (weighted vote) by Congressional district.
|Congressional District||Jim Gilmore||Bob Marshall|
Marshall scored most of his victories in Northern Virginia. See this map. However, he also did surprisingly well outside of Northern Virginia. In spite of the many absurd prognostications to the contrary, Marshall ran a competitive race.
After the election results were announced, Marshall thanked his supporters. He did not have much to say about Jim Gilmore. Ironically, perhaps, Marshall seemed to think it appropriate to ignore Gilmore as Gilmore had for the most part ignored him.
I think Marshall has plans to try again. Given the simple fact Marshall well exceeded expectations, he has every right to make plans for another run. In fact, Marshall stayed around to shake the hands of his supporters.
Thanks in part to the delegates Marshall brought to the convention, the conservative wing of the Republican Party did have cause for celebration. Jeff Frederick won his election to become the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. John Hager graciously conceded, and Frederick thanked Hager for his service to the party.
Whatever anyone thinks of Jim Gilmore and his pathetic campaign against Marshall, we are now stuck with him. That is the lesson that comes from an election such as this. A tiny number of people could have swayed the vote the other way. If you had thoughts of attending this convention, but you just could not bring yourself to make the effort, shame on you.
Now the time you could have made a difference is past. The only realistic alternative is Mark Warner. By any comparison, Gilmore is the better choice. Gilmore may be wishy-washy, but when he does make a promise, he keeps it. Warner? Well, that is another story.
So we have to choose again. Will we sit and do nothing? Or will we make the effort required to see to it the best candidate wins.
With only a little touch of bitterness, Bloggers for Bob Marshall provide a good account and pictures (here).
novatownhall blog offers up a string of gripes (here). The author does not believe the process of tallying the vote totals was properly monitored and suggests the possibility of fraud. However, he does not know that anything untoward occurred. Normal procedures do require that people from both campaigns monitor this process, and Marshall certainly had enough people in attendance to monitor the process.
The Mason Conservative offers his account from the Gilmore supporter perspective (here). In particular, he takes issue with Pat McSweeney‘s nomination speech for Bob Marshall. Chris is unhappy that McSweeney did not have anything nice to say about the negative campaign literature that Gilmore dropped on Marshall at the last minute.
Bearing Drift has a podcast with Gilmore. This followed his victory (here). Gilmore is looking ahead, and that is what the rest of us should be doing.