WINCHESTER — GOP delegates across Virginia will select the Republican nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general on Saturday as part of a statewide Republican convention.
There will be 39 polling locations throughout the state where delegates will fill out their ballots. Geary Higgins, chair of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee, said more than 53,000 delegates are registered to vote in the convention.
“That’s an amazing number,” Higgins said. “This will be the biggest convention event we’ve ever had by a huge amount.”
Delegates from Frederick County, Clarke County and Winchester in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District will cast their ballots at 20098 Ashbrook Place in the Loudoun County community of Ashburn. Voting will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to Higgins, Frederick County has 535 registered delegates, Winchester about 80 and Clarke County 111.
After polls close, all ballots will be sent to a central location in Richmond, presumably a hotel ballroom, to be counted by hand, Higgins said. Poll watchers, candidate representatives and members of the Republican Party of Virginia will be there to watch the process.
On their ballots, delegates will rank the candidates from most to least preferred. The candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated, and all of the ballots are recounted repeatedly until a final candidate for each race is selected.
Winners will be on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election.
Higgins said there was a great deal of debate about whether to have a convention or a primary.
He said a major draw of the convention is the ranked-choice voting. There are seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the Virginia governor's race.
Higgins noted that in a primary, it is possible that a divisive candidate could win with a slim majority, possibly with as little as 25% of the vote. In other words, a candidate that is generally not liked by a majority of Republicans could theoretically win the nomination with a small but passionate following. The ranked voting system with a convention ensures that the Republican nominees selected are supported by a majority of the party.
Another factor at play in choosing a convention instead of a primary, according to Higgins, was to prevent Democrats from casting ballots.
He also said some Republicans expressed concerns about machines counting ballots and having them counted by hand will alleviate those concerns.
Frederick County Republican Committee Chairman Allen Sibert said the local reaction to holding a convention was mixed but not overly negative.
“There’s always a few not happy about the process because they feel they might have a particular candidate that would do better in a primary than they would in a convention or better in a convention than they would in a primary,” Sibert said. “So they have a personal opinion about it. But for the most part, there’s been a few eyebrows raised, but nothing egregious. Just a few people not happy about it and a few people not happy they have to drive to Ashburn.”
It is unclear how quickly the votes will be counted after the polls close. Higgins said it is possible that the results of the convention may not be available for a few days.
The seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor are: state senator Amanda Chase, state delegate and former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Kirk Cox, former U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs Sergio de la Peña, former CEO of Center for European Policy Analysis Peter Doran, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, entrepreneur Pete Snyder and former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group Glenn Youngkin.
For lieutenant governor, the Republican candidates are consultant Puneet Ahluwalia, security company executive Lance Allen, state delegate Glenn Davis, former state delegate Tim Hugo, business executive Maeve Rigler and former state delegate Winsome Sears.
The four GOP candidates for Attorney General are: Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley, state delegate Jason Miyares, former Virginia Beach Republican Party Chairman Chuck Smith and Jack White, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
A link with all voting locations is available at: https://virginia.gop/2021-locations/