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Republicans at Odds Over Process for Choosing Candidates - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Republicans at Odds Over Process for Choosing Candidates

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Analysts and Republican leaders agree - Republicans have a challenge ahead.  How can the party grow and improve future campaigns?

National Republican leaders have some ideas, but those plans seem to differ from what's happening in the commonwealth. 

The Republican National Committee released a new report this week, looking back - and forward - after the last election.  Republicans are calling the report the "growth and opportunity project." The mission: "putting together a plan to grow the party and improve Republican campaigns."

One strategy aims to broaden the party base by holding more primaries, seemingly contradicting what's happening in the commonwealth - Virginia will use a convention setting to nominate its candidates this year.

"It was a post mortem on the 2012 election, and it was, 'why did we lose? What did we not do well? What can we do better?'" said Geoff Skelley, political analyst at the UVA Center for Politics.

Scattered throughout the 97-page report are a number of ideas to broaden the party's appeal.

While the report suggests that the party use primaries - rather than conventions - to help choose party nominees for office, the report also suggests that when more people show up to vote in a Republican primary, it's more likely they'll vote Republican again in November.

But in Virginia, the Republican Party is ditching the primary this year, in favor of a nominating convention.

"Conservative activists believe that a convention is a better setting for getting a truly conservative candidate. They are concerned that in a primary, a more moderate candidate could end up winning," said Skelley.

On the surface, it looks like an internal disagreement about moving the party forward, but a spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party says that's not the case, adding this report concerns national elections - not state elections.

Analysts still say the debate is somewhat emblematic of a deeper disagreement within the party. 

"I don't know if it gets resolved easily. It could be a very ugly battle," said Skelley.

To read the full report, click here.

You don't need to look far to see how a convention atmosphere could impact the moderate vote. After the GOP chose a convention over a primary last year, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling dropped his bid for the nomination, virtually guaranteeing Ken Cuccinelli's candidacy.

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