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GOP reverses course, will hold convention in 2013

Republicans will decide their 2013 statewide ticket by convention, reversing an earlier decision to hold a primary to name its candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The move was made today at a meeting of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia, apparently benefitting Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who had favored holding a nominating convention to decide on the state ticket for 2013. Hit hardest by the switch is Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who had favored going the primary route and will now have to recalibrate his strategy for winning the nomination in what looks to be an uphill battle with Cuccinelli.

“I am disappointed in the State Central Committee’s decision, which will effectively disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Virginia Republicans, and all active duty military personnel, from participating in the nomination of our candidates,” Bolling said in a statement. “If we want to grow our party we have to involve more people in the nomination of our candidates, not fewer; and I believe that we do that through primaries, not party conventions. This decision creates the impression that our party is an exclusive party, as opposed to an inclusive party, and that is not the message we should be sending to the people of Virginia.

The state GOP had decided in October 2011 to hold a party primary. Bolling noted that he and other candidates getting ready for the 2013 election season on the Republican side had hired staff and made other strategic campaign decisions based on the decision by the state party to go primary.

“These decisions cannot be undone and these dollars cannot be unspent. To change the rules now, in the middle of the campaign, is unprecedented and unfair,” said Bolling, who hinted that he had considered taking legal action to challenge the reversal.

“However, I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of the Republican Party to pursue a judicial remedy. Right now, our party needs its focus firmly fixed on electing Mitt Romney, George Allen and our Republican congressional candidates in November. I will not take any action that might further divide our party or distract our attention from the 2012 campaigns,” Bolling said.