Virginia Republicans choose ‘drive-through’ model for their convention

Republicans in central Virginia had a big convention planned for this weekend to select their nominee for Congress, but those plans have changed drastically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of a party-like atmosphere in a big room, the convention in Virginia’s 5th District will resemble a drive-through at a fast-food restaurant.

“It’s unusual,” said Melvin Adams, chairman of that district’s Republican committee. “Typically, it’s a big festive deal that takes all day long.”

Thousands of Republican delegates will line up in their vehicles Saturday at the Tree of Life Ministries in Campbell County, Virginia.

If all goes according to plan, they will never need to step outside.

“They will come and show their credentials,” Adams said. “They will be given a ballot and they will turn it in.”

More than 3,000 delegates are scheduled to participate, choosing between incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman and challenger Bob Good.

Riggleman is hoping for a second term after taking over the seat in 2018. The Air Force veteran and distillery owner was elected after incumbent Republican Tom Garrett announced he was an alcoholic and ended his bid for reelection.

Good, who is widely considered to be a more hard-line conservative than Riggleman, is a former Campbell County supervisor and fundraiser for Liberty University.

The race between Riggleman and Good has been bitter at times, with Riggleman alleging that the convention is unfair and “corrupt” in part because it is being held in Campbell County, where Good was a supervisor for four years.

Riggleman tried, unsuccessfully, to have the drive-through convention held in multiple locations to cut back on travel during the pandemic.

Republicans have held a firm grip on the 5th District seat. The last Democrat to hold it was Tom Perriello, who was elected back in 2008.

It is not clear who the winner of this weekend’s Republican convention will face in the general election in November. Democrats have yet to choose their candidate. They plan to do so during a primary later this month on June 23.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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