Virginia Senator Jim Webb’s choice to retire after one term will not have much of an effect on the contest among GOP candidates who are seeking to succeed him, according to Morton Blackwell, the longtime Republican national committeeman from Virginia.
Blackwell spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on February 11, near the end of the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.
“I don’t believe that Senator Webb’s decision not to run is likely to affect the Republican nomination contest very much,” said Blackwell.
“The most important factor determining events in the nomination contest,” he said, “was the State Central Committee’s decision to nominate by primary not by convention.”
Blackwell explained that he is “one of those who strongly believe in conventions,” and that he rarely, if ever, votes to nominate candidates through primary elections.
“In a multiple candidate situation,” he said, “I believe that grassroots Republicans need to make the choice of the nominee rather than turning the nomination process into an opportunity for Democrats to come vote on who the Republican nominee is going to be — and that frequently happens.”
Not only that, he added, “frankly, there are Republicans who, given the opportunity,” will take advantage of Virginia’s open primary system and vote in the Democratic primary.
“I don’t think that’s right, either,” Blackwell emphasized, “and I certainly never have” done that.
Allen has ‘substantial lead’
In the 2012 nomination contest, he said, “George Allen has what would appear to me to be a substantial lead. There are several people who are conservatives who are going to run or maybe going to run against him but it remains to be seen if any of them would be able to put together sufficient strength to win a Republican primary.”
He noted that Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke was already in the race and that Delegate Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart were names frequently mentioned as potential candidates to challenge Allen, the former Virginia governor and senator.
Blackwell expressed surprise when told that Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA01) is now being suggested as a possible candidate for the GOP nomination.
“I haven’t heard that,” he said when told that the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star had reported the Wittman rumor.
“It seems to me,” Blackwell continued, that “George [Allen] has to be thought, at least at this point, as the heavy favorite to win the nomination.
He added that he has not “endorsed anybody and probably won’t” do that, but he thinks it is “very important that Republican candidates focus on campaigns [that] will not be of use to a Democrat in the general election,” expressing concern that negative, internecine attacks during the primary could be resurrected by the Democratic candied in the general election.
“I don’t want any Republican commercials to be used by Democrats against our nominee,” Blackwell concluded.
2012 presidential nomination
While looking at the 2012 election, Blackwell took note of the large pool of potential candidates for president.
“In terms of number of candidates,” he said, “we certainly have a bumper crop, with more people surfacing every day.”
In the CPAC presidential straw poll, Blackwell said he read over the list of candidates and decided to cast a write-in vote for Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, who has already declared he is not a candidate for president. (Pence was on the straw poll ballot in 2010 and received about 5 percent of the vote.)
“It’s very important that we have a movement-oriented conservative nominee,” Blackwell explained, because “it helps in so many ways.”
Having that kind of nominee, he said, helps strengthen the Republican party because, as part of the process of selecting a presidential candidate, “the party committees at the state and national level are renewed.”
Having a strong conservative at the top of the ticket, he explained, will also produce “a very strongly conservative membership” of the Republican National Committee, which includes all the state chairmen, as well as of the state central committees and local committees.
“We really need somebody like Mike Pence to run,” Blackwell said. South Carolina Senator “Jim DeMint might run, or Michele Bachmann might run,” citing the Minnesota congresswoman and leader of the House Tea Party Caucus.
“Those are the types of people who will inspire large numbers of conservatives,” he predicted.
Do you like this article? Do you want to see more like it? Be sure to click on the “subscribe” button at the top of the page.
If you would like to become an Examiner on glowbass.com, click on the “write for us” button on the upper right corner of this page.