Convention Focuses on 'Targeted Audience.'

Convention Focuses on 'Targeted Audience.'

GOP candidates adjust campaign strategies.

With a convention, Republican candidates for contested Board of Supervisors and Constitutional Officer seats face a different campaign strategy.

“You organize your campaign differently than you do for a primary because you work to get as many people to sign up for the convention as possible. These are the people you need to talk to,” said Robert “Bob” Gordon, one of two Republicans vying to serve as chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2004-08.

Gordon and 22 other Republican candidates scheduled to appear at the convention had the chance to encourage Loudoun residents to sign up and swear by their party to support Republican candidates. The 2,078 delegates are scheduled to participate in the May 31 convention, leaving nearly 600 empty slots. A state formula determines the maximum number of delegates allowed in a convention based on the jurisdiction’s Republican voting strength, which in Loudoun is 2,673 slots for the 2003 election and the same number of alternatives. The slots are separated into eight districts with representation in each district based on the voting strength from previous elections.

“We’re anticipating probably 1,800 of those will show up on May 31. There’s always 10 percent that drop out, said Randy Minchew, committee chairman.

THE LOUDOUN COUNTY Republican Committee selected the convention format by voice vote at the Jan. 27 committee meeting, confirming the decision with a counted vote at the Feb. 24 meeting as requested by order of the Republican Party of Virginia.

“I think it’s a proven vehicle for determining candidates that are in accordance with Republican principles,” Minchew said. “Candidates are more accountable to their voters because they have to account for their positions to people who understand what the issues are. In primaries, candidates can use direct mail to convince voters. In a convention format, that won’t wash.”

Minchew said delegates focus on knowing how candidates view the issues that are important to them, adding, “There’s a greater commitment amongst the people who will be voting for our nominees.”

“You’re focusing your message and discussions to a smaller audience. It’s a more targeted audience,” said Lawrence “Larry” Beerman, Republican candidate for the at-large chairman’s seat and an Ashburn resident. He served on the Board of Supervisors from 1996-2000 as Dulles representative. “You always fine-tune your message as you talk to people. … You have your core themes, but through talking and interacting with people, you’re getting different perspectives in problem-solving.”

Beerman describes his campaigning as a “road show.” He visits different districts and venues and attends gatherings with delegates and other candidates. “What’s so unique about a convention is each delegate is a valuable commodity. These individuals will shape who will be the standard bearers in the general election,” he said.

“I’m finding it to be really rewarding, because you get to hear from people from all over the county with a wide range of views,” Gordon said, adding that the convention requires more meetings and telephone discussions than a primary to allow the delegates to get to know individual candidates.

“It has been a lot of fun doing this,” Beerman said. “I enjoy talking about issues with people. You have to be a people person if you’re in this business.”

CANDIDATES ARE REQUIRED to file by June 10 unless nominated by a party, in which case, the party chair has until June 16 to contact the state board and provide a list of candidates.

The Republican Party is holding a primary for the 27th District Senate seat on June 10 to vote for Russell Potts, Jr, incumbent, of Winchester or Mark Tate of Middleburg.

The Democratic Party opted for a firehouse primary on June 7 for the contested 32nd District House of Delegates seat between Patricia Morrissey and James Rinker, both of Potomac Falls.

As of April 29, there were 50 candidates vying for the Senate, House, Constitutional Officer, Board of Supervisors and School Board seats within the county jurisdiction.

The contested Constitutional Officer seats in the Republican Party are for the Commissioner of Revenue between Barbara Black of Sterling and Robert “Bob” Wertz, Jr. of Ashburn and for the Sheriff between Stephen Simpson, incumbent, and Phillip Daughenbaugh, both of Leesburg.

The contested Board of Supervisors seats include:

* Dulles District, John Millhiser of Aldie and Stephen “Steve” Snow of South Riding.

* Potomac District, John Andrews of Sterling and Bruce Tulloch of Potomac Falls.

* Sugarland Run District, David “Mick” Staton, Jr. of Sterling and Bonnie Wolfe of Leesburg.

* Leesburg District, James “Jim” Clem, Jack Ryan, Jr. and T. Lyle Werner, all from Leesburg.

* Blue Ridge District, Merry Schumacher of Hamilton and R. Ben Weber of Leesburg.

* Catoctin District, Geary Higgins of Waterford and Atilla Tassi of Leesburg.

The Sterling and Broad Run districts do not have contested seats for Republican Party endorsement, nor do the seats for the Commonwealth attorney and for the treasurer.