Since first entering the race for the 5th District Republican nomination and receiving my ridicule for campaigning outside of the 5th District, Laurence Verga appears to have found a map. He's used it to find his way to DC with the Jefferson Area Tea Party and will be traveling down to Danville tomorrow for an event that also features Virgil Goode, Feda Morton, and rob Hurt. Will Verga's map lead him to victory and back up to DC in January of 2011?
Maybe. It's enough to convince me that Verga has a legitimate shot at the nomination. Morton didn't make it up to DC but will also be in Danville on Saturday, showing a strong commitment to reaching out to the entire 5th District. Exactly what you'll need in order to win the nomination next year.
Here's what the Rob Hurt boosters overlook: the 5th District nomination will more than likely be decided at a convention, where anything can happen. The number of delegates will be dependent on Republican performance in the last two statewide elections- 2008 (McCain) and 2009 (McDonnell). So Albermarle, where McCain got 40%, carries more weight than Pittsylvania, where McCain got over 60%. The Hurt boosters (Hoosters!) also ignore that being State Senator from the Danville-Pittsylvania doesn't make you State Senator of all of Southside Virginia. Hurt will have to depend heavily on allies like Tucker Watkins to lock down the rest of Southside (Halifax, Mecklenburg, Prince Edward, etc.).
Also, the convention will eliminate minor candidates if the first ballot doesn't produce a winner. Candidates will need at least 5% support to stay in no matter what. So despite the crowded field, Hurt has to win with 50% + 1 support. In a primary, he could end up winning with 30 to 40 percent of the vote against divided opposition. He can't count on that in a convention. The host of solid conservative candidates from around the district have a chance to unite and block hurt at the convention.
Which is why Verga (among others) still stands a chance. Whoever is able to come off as the last man standing against Hurt has a good shot at the nomination. Could it be Verga? Boyd? Rees? Who knows. But I wouldn't count anyone out yet.