There will be a GOP presidential primary – of a sort – in Virginia on March 6, 2012, offering a choice between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. President Obama was the only candidate who filed for the Democratic primary, so it is cancelled and he wins all the delegates. On June 12, 2012, both parties will choose their Senate candidates by primary. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tim Kaine was the only Democratic candidate to file properly (and thus he would be the nominee and the Democratic primary would again be cancelled). The GOP looks like it will have a Senate primary with George Allen and Bob Marshall. Democrats shouldn’t vote in either (or any) GOP primary.
One caveat – there may be the rare time when people actually think a GOP candidate is worth voting for (McCain in 2000, some would say) – but mostly Democrats think that they want to vote for the “weaker” GOP candidate. Don’t bother. Here’s why:
- It’s wrong. Democrats should be able to choose their candidates without malevolent interference from the other party and so should Republicans. Do you know what kind of people try to mess up other people’s primaries? Rush Limbaugh launched “Operation Chaos” in 2008 to get Republicans to vote for the weaker Democrat (whoever that ws supposed to be) and George Allen voted for Henry Howell for Virginia Governor in 1977 because he thought Howell was a weaker candidate than Andy Miller. Don’t be like Rush and George Allen.
- If you vote in the GOP primary, you may be challenged when you want to participate in Democratic Party processes. Specifically, to participate in the Democratic Party delegate selection process for 2012, you have to pledge that you haven’t participated in any other party’s process. You may not be able to vote for (and certainly not run for) national convention delegates if you vote with the GOP.
- You might regret helping nominate the person you voted for. Okay, that’s probably not a big issue this year because Ron Paul has zero chance of actually being the GOP nominee, but in general, the candidate that you might think is weaker, might not be come November. I will never forget smart Democrats welcoming the GOP nomination of Ronald Reagan because he was too right wing to be elected. Didn’t turn out that way.
- On the other hand, what if enough Democrats vote for Paul so that Romney gets derailed, and someone else – Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush – steps in and that person is a stronger GOP candidate than Romney? You can’t predict whether your vote will ultimately help or hurt the Democrats.
- Voting in the GOP primary doesn’t advance the Democratic Party’s goal of winning the election. Barack Obama doesn’t need to face a “weaker” GOP candidate or a more disorganized GOP (the GOP is screwing themselves up just fine). If President Obama gets out his message and we get out his vote, we win. I don’t care who they nominate. The idea that we need to mess with their process seems like an admission of weakness on our part.
- You could be challenged at the polling place – the Va Code provisions apply to primaries and a GOP activist could insist that you can’t vote. Then you could vote provisionally and explain to the electoral board during the canvass that you should be allowed to vote in the GOP primary. Do you really want to do that?
- It’s a pain in the neck for your local hard-working, underpaid election officials. The GOP called for and then took back the pledge requirement (which shouldn’t be up to the electoral workers to enforce at all – that’s one reason why the pledge is wrong and perhaps illegal), but dealing with known Democrats trying to vote in the GOP primary will just make their jobs tougher.
- We want Republicans to stay out of our primary – Democrats are incensed when Republican voters cross over to mess up our primary – and appropriately so. We lose our right to complain when we try to mess up theirs.
- It’s a waste of time. You should be out working to elect Democrats, not messing with Republicans. Register a voter, go door to door on your block, or write a check instead.
VA DNC Member
I was proud to represent Virginia on the Democratic National Committee for 12 years. I am in DC now, but still active in voter protection and Democratic Party rules. More about me, click here.