Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

With Wolf Retirement, GOP Fears Nominating Convention Woes in Virginia

Wolf's retirement gives Democrats a shot at picking up his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s a deep bench of Republican candidates in Virginia’s newly open 10th District, but the threat of a nominating convention picking an unpalatable general-election candidate looms large over the GOP.

Longtime GOP Rep. Frank R. Wolf’s retirement announcement on Tuesday blew open the field for this Northern Virginia-based House seat, creating a competitive contest for the first time in decades. Immediately, GOP operatives rattled off several local Republicans who would fit the district, for example state Dels. Barbara Comstock and Tim Hugo.

But if Virginia Republicans hold a nominating convention instead of a primary, the party might have some problems, operatives said. Nominating conventions typically turn out the party’s most conservative activists who tend to pick highly partisan candidates. That could be an issue in this competitive district, which President Barack Obama narrowly lost with 49 percent.

Former Rep. Thomas M. Davis, R-Va., who represented the nearby 11th District before he retired in 2008, said a primary would be the best way for Republicans in Virginia to choose a nominee but cautioned that’s unlikely.

“A primary is a better way to get it out, but I doubt they’ll do a primary,” said Davis, who added he is not considering a comeback bid in the 10th District, where he currently lives. “There are less hard feelings, and it’s a fairer shot.”

A governing body of the Republican Party of Virginia ultimately votes whether to have a convention or a primary.

In 2013, Republicans nominated tea party firebrand E.W. Jackson to be their candidate for lieutenant governor via convention. Jackson later caused a sideshow during the contested governor’s race earlier this year.

“You can’t expect the Republicans in Virginia to have learned any lessons from that,” said a Virginia GOP operative of Jackson’s candidacy.

In the 10th District, a convention could produce a nominee like state Sen. Dick Black, whose ultra-conservative beliefs could cause problems for the party to keep a competitive seat, Republicans said. Earlier this year, for example, Black likened abortion clinics to the Holocaust.

Black told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that he is forming an exploratory committee to determine whether he will run for the seat.

Republicans added that other GOP candidates — electable or not — could come out of the woodwork in the coming days as well. Republicans have also mentioned GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli, a 10th District resident, and former 11th District GOP nominee Keith Fimian, as potential candidates.

“There is no leviathan here,” one Virginia Republican operative said. “I don’t know of a single board of supervisors up in that district that doesn’t have at least one member that thinks they would be a perfect fit for that seat.”

On the Democratic side, attorney Richard Bolger and Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust are currently in the contest. Democratic operatives said Foust is likely the stronger candidate but caution that the open seat could draw more Democrats into the race soon.

No matter the nominee, this will be an expensive race for both parties because the district includes the expensive Washington, D.C., media market. Operatives for both parties predict the race will cost $5 million to $10 million.

Virginia’s 10th District is rated a Lean Republican seat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • teapartyidiots

    Heh….maybe they can nominate Jackson again.

  • Callawyn

    LOL, Roll Call carrying water for establishment RINO’s. That’s the sum total of this article.


    The RINO’s know perfectly well that a convention will likely return an actual Conservative, not a moderate Democrat with an (R) after his name willing to help Boehner pass Obama’s agenda.

  • Rob_Chapman

    The exclusively conservative tilt of the GOP is rapidly turning it into the minority party.

  • Callawyn

    LOL, yeah, that’s why 2010 was the best year the Republican Party ever had. We picked up just a measly 700 or so seats in state legislatures, 68 House and 6 Senate seats, and gained control of more state legislative houses and governors mansions than the Party ever had.

    What a disaster! Can you imagine what will happen if Conservatives keep that up in 2014??

    Why do you think Obama had the IRS do everything in their power to ensure the TEA Party groups were denied tax exempt status while their liberal counterparts got fast-tracked?

  • Rob_Chapman

    You are telling me that the monthly losses of million jobs, the increase in unemployment from 4% to over 10%, the loss of half the value of stocks and the massive home foreclosure crisis were overshadowed by people’s attraction to GOP conservatism?

    Keep thinking that and 2014 will turn out ok…for the Dems.

  • Callawyn

    You act like those are mutually exclusive, when in fact its the same thing.

    The failures of the Democrats socialist policies, and the complete failure of the moderate RINO’s throughout Bush’s 8 years to reverse any of the D’s expansions under Clinton (in fact, continuing most of those expansions), resulted in all those problems (and many more) that you list.

    The obvious answer to those problems is to elect Conservative R’s. People that actually have principles and will fight to reduce the size/scope of the government.

    The more Obama’s policies fail, the more obvious it is to increasing numbers of people that we need Conservatives running the show if we are going to get our economy running again.

    2014 is going to be a blowout.

    The R’s won’t just hold the House, they’ll add seats. They were a longshot to take the Senate just a few months ago, now there are a dozen D seats in play and the only R seat in any danger is currently occupied by Mitch McConnell, the RINO minority leader. His TEA Party supported primary opponent is already polling as well against the like D candidate as McConnell is and he’s even with him in the primary.

    At the state level, the D’s will get destroyed far worse than at the federal level, though given the scope of the 2010 blowout gaining another ~700 seats nationwide is likely impossible, but you’ll definitely be seeing control of even more legislative bodies flip D to R and you’ll see more R supermajorities in states already under our control.

    2016 will likely be tough for us, to hold on to such enormous gains, but 2014 will be historic.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Callawyn, the obvious answer of electing more conservatives is the one that has failed us for the past forty years.

    Conservative policies don’t work and the more the policies fail, the crazier the policies that conservatives will support keep getting.

    There is no fairy dust, Callawyn, Tinker Bell is never going to fly, so get over yourself, and start dealing with reality.

    Democrats, liberals and the real world are here to stay.

    You can help us solve problems or we can all sit here while the rest of the world leaves us to ourselves and our misery of gridlock.

  • Callawyn

    Your socialist policies have never worked anywhere, and never will.

    World history since 1848 has been one big long object lesson in the abject failure of socialism.

    At this point, you’d have to be a complete imbecile to still believe it can work.

  • Nixys

    Interesting that you use the expression “solve problems.” It’s such a nice sounding little phrase isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to “solve problems” and make the world a better place? I bet Hitler thought he was “solving problems” too. I bet Lenin really believed he was “solving problems” when he murdered the Romanovs and took over Russia. I bet the U.S. army thought they were “solving problems” by using Agent Orange in ‘Nam. I bet eugenicists thought they were “solving problems” in the early 1900s too. So many examples of solving problems in history! Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a nice sounding “progressive” ideology? Always meddling, always fixing, what could go wrong?

  • Rob_Chapman

    Socialist policies?

    Public education, social security, municipal police forces, public works departments…

    I’ll take failures like those every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    Happy Holidays Callawyn.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Nixys, please explain what prolemms Hitler thought he was solving?

    By what lights i Hitler a progressive?

    Each of your examples suffer from the same defintional problems.

    When you feel ready to stop comparing people who merely disagree with you to mass murderers, we can talk again.

    Happy Holidays Nixys.

  • Nixys

    Please. I did not compare anyone who disagrees with me to a mass murderer. My point was that people can have good intentions, or at least they can intend to “solve problems” – and in doing so actually create more, worse problems. That is why the liberal idea of “progressiveness” is a non-idea, an empty hollow platitude. Progressing towards what? Away from what? Has history consistently “progressed”? Leftists cannot even agree on what is or is not “progressive” – Do greenies who actually want to dismantle all of modern machinery and go back to “living in harmony with nature” count as leftists? They have more in common with the Amish. Will the world really be a better place when women work in the EXACT same patterns (IE % of different occupations) as men do? Why is that the arbitrary, stupid, “goal” of progress? Why not make the goal for certain individual women to be able to if they so choose, but realizing that women and man may (GASP) choose to do different things based on their self-interest?

    And if you seriously don’t think “Hitler thought he was solving problems” you need to read A LOT more about Hitler, his psychology, and the condition Germany was in after WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Thank you for your response.

    Your argumet strikes me as being that since problems are hard, we shouldn’t try to solve them.

    May I suggest that instead of trying to establish your intellectual and moral superiority through deploying inept analogies we discuss some actual political matters?

    Do you think for example, that all the packaging that comes on what we buy is essential to our freedom, or would you willing to concede that we need to get it under more control?

    If you think that all that packaging is a necessary and important thing, would be willing to explain that position?

    If you think that packaging is excessive, how do you suggest getting the situation under control?

    Alternatively, is this problem just too big for us and something we should leave to others?

    You have the floor, Nixys.

  • Nixys

    I am not “trying to establish my intellectual and moral superiority” whatsoever. I do not need to “try to establish” it. I am attempting to help you realize that the ideology and party you are so willing to identify yourself with, so willing to fight on behalf of, is full of inconsistencies and hypocritical logical holes you can drive a truck through. I used to be a leftist, and I will never again listen to them for this reason. They have proven their incompetence and their fundamental misunderstanding of actual political history, economics, human nature, and they do not know how to govern, how to solve problems, or how to improve anyone’s lives.

    “Packaging” – seriously? This is what you choose as an example? Define “packaging.” My opinion is that private businesses should do what is best for profits, which will provide more Americans with jobs, spur productivity and inventiveness, and create new products, and over time, better, cheaper and safer packaging. The end.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Packaging, I thought if we tried something tangible and noncontroversial, you would be able to express yourself.

    Packaging is what merchandise comes in, all that paper, styrofoam peanuts, plastic and so on.

    So to go back to the questions, do you think there is some untrammeled right to package that overrides the damage all that garbage is doing to the planet/

    If there is some such right, please explain its justification.

    If you think that we should control packaging please describe how we might do it?

    Or do you just think we have to take what we get and like it?

  • Nixys

    “Packaging” is extremely vague. It has meant different things at different times in history. In the future, say when we have 3D printers in homes- which if it happens will be COMPLETELY because of the free market and individual creativity as well as science and business- “packing” as we know it may become obsolete.

    Government officials cannot create safe packaging. Only scientists and business people working together can do so. Government officials can only ban and obstruct things. They cannot CREATE their way out of problems.

    The earth is not more important than human beings. Period, the end.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Nixys, what concerns me about your views are three things:| first; the absolutist attitude you take which can be characterized as, “MY position. Period, the end.”
    Second, and one that is related to the first, that you completely deny the legitimacy of disagreement and go to great lengths to discredit any idea differing from yours dogmatically without only specious references to outside verification of your views.

    Third, that your arrogance is very common and that people like you probably flock together to support both their false and their good ideas, but without being able to distinguish clearly which ideas are good and which are bad.
    In my view, you have made a pretty good exhibition of the partisanship and one up manship that characterizes our politics and yes, makes it so hard to make any progress.

    In any case, thanks for the stimulating discussion and Merry Christmas. Yes I wrote Merry Christmas, and I wish you the joy and happiness in the universal celebration of birth and maternal love.

  • Nixys

    Look, I don’t care if you’re a sweet, wonderful nice person, and every liberal sincerely believes they are improving the world for the better. It doesn’t matter, because I care about TANGIBLE RESULTS, and liberals are misguided and are destroying the economy. I am a young American concerned about the future of my country. It will be me, and my kids eventually, who pay for the mistakes of this administration, no matter how “sweet and nice” they are deep down.

    YOU are the one who brought up this idea of “packaging” in the first place, and now you refuse to even engage in argument and refute my points. And yet you accuse ME of partinsanship! Well, you bet your butt I’m going to be partisan in that case. There’s no difference between you and I in partinsanship except that I admit it and you pretend you’re a better person when you’re not.

    No, I’m not obligated to compromise with you. Or have a sweet “tone” or whatever complaint you have.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Nixys, whether you like it or not, America is bigger than you are.

    If you were interested in “tangible results,” you would also be interested in working with your fellow Americans.

    Partisans know what they want and smart ones know how to negotiate and compromise and how to make tangible results flow from that process.

    What your posts to me show is that you are interested in Nixys and little else.

    What I still don’t understand is why in the world such a self absorded person, as you have shown yourself to be with your coments to me posts on public comment sites.

    Once again, Merry Christmas.

  • Nixys

    What?!? I have not once insulted you. You have insulted me multiple times. Ad hominem attacks are what those losing arguments resort to. Get over yor victim complex and actually address my points. You are yet more roof that liberals are hypocrites to the core and don’t hold themselves tithe standards they hold others.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Nixys, I have not insulted you.

    You have not expressed any interest in dialogue, again in this respnse you have taken the attack and said all liberals are hypocrites- another example of your favored, “My position is right. End, period,” responses.

    You have yet to make a point that I can address.

    I do not know you well enough to understand what your personal code is when you refer to historical figures.

    I proposed we talk about an innocuous subject, packaging and you pontificated instead of engaged.

    In each and all of these exchanges you have called me names and bee very defensive without giving me any sort of guidance as to what you would consider an acceptable topic of conversation.

    I am not interested in debate, Nixys. I keep responding because I think that there is a serious person on the other side of this line.

    Do you have any ideas at all, Nixys, or are you just out to pick fights?

    Merry Christmas.

  • Nixys

    No, I have NOT “called you names.” If you think I have, it is because you are projecting or have not read my posts carefully. Read them again, please, and point out ONE instance of me “calling you names.” You will find you cannot.

    YOU brought up “packaging” out of nowhere, not me. I humored you and answered your hypothetical. YOU then proceeded to be childish and not address any of my points which YOU specifically asked for.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Ok, let’s try again.
    In your response on packaging, you stated that government has no role as they do not create jobs or tangible products, right?
    So, let’s say, hypothtically, that packaging is an oligopoly, an industry controlled by a small group of companies.
    What is to prevent the oligopolists from abusing their customers and the public?

  • ralph_indianapolis

    There are differences among liberial, socialist and communist. Liberials believe that there should be a social safety net and some rules covering pollution and safety. Socialists are in favor ot government control of some larger industries but not all companies. (like some countries in western Europe). Communism (as explained by Marx) had all industries controlled by what he called a “diectatoship of the proletariat.” However he didn’t explain what kind of government would exist and Russia screwed it up with a dictatorship. Calling Democrats socialist (whe they are actually liberial) would be like calling conservatives facists when they are clearly not.

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