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When Democrats Must Vote in GOP Primaries

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A couple of months ago, Frank Leone opined that “Virginia Democrats Shouldn’t Vote in GOP Primaries.” His legalistic rationale: it’s “malevolent interference.” Well, here’s the bottom line, without a Democratic candidate in the race, Republicans have all the say. There’s nothing malevolent about wanting a vote in your representation.

“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.” – Leone

Frank seems blind to the fact that Virginia Democrats increasingly have no say in local and state elections unless they vote in Republican primaries or for Republicans. City and County Democratic Committees are reluctant for many reasons (some not so honorable) to field any candidates at all. And if there is no Democratic candidate, then the only say Democrats have is by voting in the Republican primary or backing an Independent or Republican in the general election, hoping a less reactionary soul will win out. That is not malevolent. It is informed self-interest. Frank is really expressing the self-cultivated paranoia of the DPVA Central Committee. They know Republicans pull off malevolence without a hitch. They also know that they just don’t have what it takes to organize a successful raid on a Republican primary.

There are difficult choices. Look at the recent Chesapeake School Board election. The Republicans put up a slate of candidates that swept the four contested seats. The Chesapeake Democratic Committee backed a candidate whose showing, dead last, was sufficient to ensure the entire Republican slate succeeded. Split her votes between the two incumbents who lost and they both win, each with the largest pluralities. And what does it say about Chesapeake’s committee when the single candidate it backs can muster only 7.93% of the vote? … about half the vote total of each of the two defeated incumbents who were not on the Republican slate. That’s it? The local committee can influence about a twelfth of the electorate? Generic Democrat usually gets a third of the vote just being on the ticket in Virginia.

In Virginia Beach, the local committee characterizes city council races as nonpartisan, thereby denying Democrats who run access to resources such as the VAN. Out in Waynesboro, where Tim Kaine drew a standing room only crowd at a recent appearance, the local committee doesn’t hold regular meetings and can’t stay organized.

Even if there is a nominal Democratic candidate, with the inability of the DPVA to organize statewide, there are many general elections that are over with the results of the Republican primary. Unfortunately, this is looking like a trend under the current state Democratic “leadership.” So telling voters to stay home is bad strategy.

Two of Frank’s arguments, that you might get challenged at the polls, or if you want to vote for or be a delegate to the national convention is aimed at whom? Members of the Central Committee? Certainly not the vast majority of Virginians who vote Democratic. They want to be heard and do not worry about being part of a Party they can’t even locate. So his is really an inside baseball kind of rant, that has no bearing on the decisions of Virginia Democratic voters who have no “membership” in any DPVA organization; or any hope of local Democratic representation. Frank Leone either has no clue about the grassroots, is an incompetent, a complete tool, or a combination of all.

This disconnect is a large portion of why the Democrats on the national stage fare better in Virginia than those who must trust the judgment of the DPVA. It is also a part of why the DPVA is headed toward a disastrous 2013.

And Frank, McCain is your example of a Republican worth voting for?