General Assembly Finalizes Primary Calendar for 2011

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    Yesterday, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved HB 1507, setting the primary schedule for 2011. The key dates for General Assembly seats, County Board members and Constitutional Officers are:

    *The primary date will be Tuesday, August 23, 2011, “and not Tuesday, June 14, 2011,” as previously specified.

    *”The State Board of Elections shall make inquiry of each party chairman by Friday, June 24, 2011, as to whether a direct primary has been adopted, and the Board must receive notification as provided in § 24.2-516 not later than Friday, July 1, 2011.”

    *”The declaration of candidacy, petitions, and receipts indicating the payment of filing fees for a primary election required by § 24.2-522 of the Code of Virginia shall be filed not earlier than noon on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, and not later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 15, 2011.”

    *”The statements required to be filed by primary candidates under § 24.2-503 of the Code of Virginia shall be filed not later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 15, 2011.”

    *”The chairman or chairmen required to furnish names of candidates for a primary under § 24.2-527 of the Code of Virginia shall do so no later than Tuesday, July 19, 2011.”

    *Also, “Ballots for the November 2011 election shall be printed on or before Friday, September 23, 2011, or as soon thereafter as practicable.”

    The reason for this change in schedule is “in anticipation of the 2011 redistricting process.” Which, by the way, will be fascinating to watch and also of potentially great consequence for Virginia politics over the next decade.

    • But it does make the lives of incumbents a whole lot easier.  Especially if there is a serious primary challenge beforehand.  I suppose that’s a plus if your incumbent represents the party of your choice, but such a short window doesn’t, in my mind, do a whole lot for democracy.

    • nubiandem

      It has everything to do with passing the legislation, court challanges and VRA approval

    • In the real world, it helps the incumbent.  The person that already knows he/she will be running for their party’s seat has a huge time advantage.   This is doubly the case if there is a contested primary.  If I were an incumbent, I would be THRILLED by this schedule.  

    • nubiandem

      OK Gretchen…whats your answer…given the time table that the GA has to deal with and the pre clearance from Justice…how would you set the Primaries…

    • listlady

      will come from all the district boundary changes. Candidates will want to start running in their new districts as soon as the Genl Assembly has acted, before the Justice Dept. has acted and SBE has officially changed the voter files. This will make for an interesting summer for everyone involved in canvassing, phoning and targeting mailings, especially in districts with primaries.

    • Tom

      When Sharon Pandak ran against Corey Stewart the first time, the county democratic committee selected a convention rather than an open primary to choose between Sharon Pandak and Gary Friedman. There was no significant cost to either candidate before the convention because the only people they had to convince were those of us who showed up at the convention location (BOCS chambers, where the PWCDC typically held our monthly meetings at no cost to anyone). When Sharon won by a significant margin, she was then ready to start fund raising and amazingly (to me) the DPVA even contributed a significant amount of money to her general election campaign. Another important cost factor is the cost to the taxpayers for an open primary, versus no cost associated with a convention for a local county nomination process.

      A stark comparison this year is what it will cost the two Dem. candidates running in what has been said will be an open primary. Gary is running again, with an eye doctor (Dr. of Ophthamology) as his opponent. I have read that Gary has loaned his campaign $100K; I don’t know anything about the financial status of Gary’s dem. opponent, except that he has hired a campaign manager. According to media reports, Corey Stewart has around $124K.

      What worries me about the primary decision (I don’t know if that is a firm DPVA or PWCDC decision, or if it might change before the filing deadlines) is that whichever Dem. wins the nomination that candidate will have spent a significant percentage (maybe almost all) of his funds just to win the primary, and be at a financial disadvantage in the general election campaign unless someone can convince Brian Moran and the DPVA to contribute to his campaign.

      On re-reading this diary, I noticed the statement that “The State Board of Elections shall make inquiry of each party chairman by Friday June 24, 2011, as to whether a direct primary has been adopted, and the Board must receive notification as provided … not later than Friday, July 1, 2011”. I don’t know if the “final” decision is made by the DPVA or the county dem. committee, or whether a decision made earlier can be changed before the specified July 1 deadline.

      I guess this all boils down to a tradeoff of cost vs. benefits. But I don’t see any benefits that would justify putting our nominee at a major financial disadvantage given the fact that Corey’s GOP primary opponent won’t be able to generate enough cash or interest to force Corey to spend much of his money in the primary. On the other hand, if “Tito the Builder” does jump into the GOP primary race he can self-finance his campaign to the extent that Corey might have to deplete his cash reserves to some extent.

      Bottom line is that while primaries do seem to be the more democratic way for each party to select its candidates, but the cost has become nearly prohibitive. Plus, there is nothing really undemocratic about a convention if it’s run the way the last BOCS chair nomination has been run by the PWC democrats. After all, it is the party that should determine their own nominee, and since we don’t register by party in Virginia the only way to know for sure that it is Democrats who are making that decision is to nominate by either a convention or “firehouse primary” where there is some opportunity to verify that people voting in the “firehouse primary” are not actually Republicans hoping to select the weaker or the Dem. candidates.

      One other issue just occurred to me with respect to a primary this year, and that is what happens if there are three primary candidates and no one wins a majority of the votes. Is there a runoff election, and if so when would it be held and would there still be enough time left after the winner has been certified for the nominee have any chance of running a meaningful campaign or have an adequate fund raising opportunity ? I’m guessing that state law may already address this, hopefully only theoretical, issue.

    • Tom

      According to the DPVA Party Plan (de facto By-Laws), Sect. 12.4, democratic party candidates for county offices may be nominated by primary, convention or caucus, as determined by the county committee. therefore, there is no requirement to get the DPVA involved in that decision for the PWC BOCS chair or any other county election.

      I’ll ask our new PWCDC chair if the decision has already been made to have a primary, and if so whether there is any likelihood that the decision might be revisited if the candidates or general membership makes such a request to the PWCDC Steering Committee to reconsider (I don’t see anything in the county By-Laws that addresses the question of whether a primary vs. convention decision can be reconsidered before the legal deadline by which the state Board of Election must be notified).

      One last thought: Given the length of time between now and the filing deadline, I think it may still be possible for a third person to file as a Dem. candidate for PWC BOCS chair, although I’m not aware that anyone else has expressed any interest in doing so.