Bell loses, Jackson wins: Local GOPers gather in Richmond
By Rick Sincere
For members of Albemarle County's delegation to the Republican state convention Saturday, May 18, the most poignant moment came when Delegate Rob Bell, a tight smile on his face, took the stage to concede the nomination for attorney general to his opponent, Senator Mark Obenshain.
Yet the greater drama was still to come over the next five hours as it took three more ballots to select a nominee for lieutenant governor, with Chesapeake clergyman E.W. Jackson emerging as an upset victor over a field of six other rivals. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was unopposed for the party's nomination for governor.
Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd, at “at least” his tenth statewide GOP convention, said there were more than 260 delegates from the county, many of them– including fellow Supervisor Duane Snow– attending a convention for the first time.
“You see a great deal of enthusiasm here from the people that are in attendance,” Boyd said in an interview on the convention floor as he mingled with the 8,000+ attendees. “We have wonderful candidates,” he said, expressing difficulty in choosing among them. "I'm just really excited for the Republican Party,” he added.
For his part, Snow said attending the convention was “interesting. It's a great experience. I'm just excited to see what's going on.” He pointed out that he had a wedding at six o'clock, not anticipating that the first ballot results would not be available before 5pm.
Supervisor Rodney Thomas was at his third state convention. His assessment of this one compared to the others? “Long.”
“I have never experienced one with this many ballots,” he said.
Bell said in an interview late in the day that he was “obviously disappointed” by the results, “but if I had to get beat, I'm glad it was Mark Obenshain.”
He added that he plans to run to retain his seat in the House of Delegates but time is short for the local party to put his name on the ballot. “The filing deadline is a week and a half,” he explained.
Bell foresees the 2013 Virginia elections being fought on national issues: “the IRS, the investigations in Congress” are on voters' minds, and “traditionally, the party who has the White House has difficulties here when their candidate runs for governor, and we'll see the same thing work out this year.”
In the November election, Cuccinelli will face Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Libertarian Party nominee Robert Sarvis (who is still gathering petition signatures). Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general will be chosen in a primary election on June 11.
Rick Sincere, who was a Charlottesville delegate to the Republican Party of Virginia state convention on May 18, writes for Virginia Politics on Demand (vapolitics.us).