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Virginia GOP Opts To Nominate By Convention

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) suffered a setback today for a future Senate campaign, as the Virginia GOP’s Central Committee opted to select the party’s nominee through a convention, not a primary.

The state’s 85-member committee, comprised of GOP activists, chose the convention by a sizable 10-vote margin.

Davis and his allies were lobbying for a primary, while his likely GOP opponent, former governor Jim Gilmore preferred a convention. Conservative activists dominate the GOP conventions, and Davis’ home base of Northern Virginia is usually under-represented among GOP activists. By contrast, anyone can vote in a GOP primary – including Democrats – because the state does not register voters by party.

Davis has said that a primary was crucial for his campaign, so he could increase his name recognition outside of Northern Virginia.  Some political observers have questioned whether he will even jump in the race, given his obstacles for both the nomination and in the general election.

The nominee will likely face former Democratic governor Mark Warner in the general election. In a just-released Washington Post poll, Warner leads both Davis and Gilmore by over 20 points in head-to-head matchups.