As I've said at every opportunity, conventions are a pitifully poor means of selecting a party's nominee. There's the inherently undemocratic nature of it to begin with, then compound that with inane loyalty pledges and timing that allows the loser to run as an independent, and you have a receipt for failure. Now, I didn't attend yesterday's convention, partly because I so strongly disagree with them in general (and so I would have been fairly painted as hypocritical if I had) and partly because I have something of a life outside the drama of local politics. I'm glad the candidates I supported won, but like at least a few others, I was quite surprised to see Steve Stockman give Scott York a run for his money. In fact, if Stockman only had about another 25 votes from the Dulles district, he would have won the nomination.
The closeness of the race is due to nothing other than the method of selection. Stockman received a total of 466 votes at the convention despite 63,000 Republican voters in Loudoun County. Frankly, I doubt he would have had many more had the selection process been a county-wide primary: York would have demolished Stockman had the vote been put to the electorate at large. He's better known and better liked than Stockman, and it’s that popularity that virtually ensures he will roll over Democrat Tom Bellanca in the general election, too. Why, then, would we take the risk of putting forward the less electable candidate through a convention? Indeed, had those few Dulles delegates shown up we'd be opening the door, if not setting out the welcome mat, for Chairman Bellanca.
The Republicans dodged a bullet. Give credit to Stockman for getting a few rabid supporters to spend a Saturday cooped up in a high school auditorium. But it takes a lot more than that to win a general election. Primaries, as I’ve said many times, are the best test of potential success in a general election. A closed convention process that risks getting something less than the most electable Republican simply defies common sense.