This weekend, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) will host its state nominating convention in Harrisonburg to select national delegates for Cleveland. This is typically an event reserved for party building, unification, and strategizing for November.
...But this is 2016, and the RPV is in complete disarray as the party implodes from the inside out. With some of the most divisive political figures in Virginia leading competing efforts to bolster candidates, whip delegates, and push harmful rhetoric - it's sure to be an interesting weekend.
Here are a few things to watch:
"Cooch the Delegate Hunter": Will Ken Cuccinelli succeed in flipping delegates to Cruz in preparation of second ballot? Cruz was a distant third on Super Tuesday in Virginia, and it's mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination by popular vote. Yet, Cuccinelli has managed to get 5 out of 6 delegates elected at CD conventions to commit to Cruz. If Cuccinelli has this type of clout now, imagine what he'll accomplish at a state nominating convention for Governor.
The Trump Question: Will the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) choose an at-large slate with delegates loyal to their first ballot vote, or delegates who vow #NeverTrump? If the latter happens, you can expect Trump supporters to take action.
Internal Strife: RPV Chairman John Whitbeck has been a magnet for controversy between the "loyalty pledge" and accusations about him being too "establishment." Some Republicans are attempting to oust Whitbeck by backing Vince Haley - someone they believe will be a more effective leader. Whitbec
k says Haley won't be on the ballot, but he scrambled quite a bit during an interview with John Fredericks.
Duck and Cover: Three Virginia Republicans have been desperate to distance themselves from the presidential race. Gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie and Rob Wittman have been silent on who they support for president, yet it wouldn't be wise for them to miss out on an opportunity to make their Gubernatorial pitches to party insiders at the convention. Will they finally let Virginians know where they stand? Barbara Comstock has also been silent since her politically acceptable candidate, Marco Rubio, dropped out of the race. She took an odd jab at Trump, proclaiming that “Daddy gave him his money” - yet she STILL refuses to say if she'd support him if he clinches the nomination.
Dick Black has gone too far: Are the Republican Party of Virginia and Ted Cruz still going to allow Dick Black to represent them at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland? Cruz's Virginia Co-Chair not only praised and met with Assad in Syria, he also promised support for him. It's an embarrassment to the RPV and Virginia as a whole, and Republican leaders need to step up and condemn his actions.