How will Republicans in Prince William County nominate their candidates this year? Page five of the Republican Party of Virginia’s Handbook for Mass Meetings, Conventions and Party Canvasses defines four different methods for nominating candidates for public office. Here is what is on page five.

The State Party Plan provides four methods for the nomination of candidates: primary, mass meeting, convention and party canvass.

A primary is open to all registered voters and is conducted by the Virginia Department of Elections. The Code of Virginia defines the notice, filing requirements, deadlines and other procedures for holding a primary. There are strict deadlines with a primary and in some cases a primary is the required method for re-nomination of certain incumbent Republicans.

The State Party Plan sets out the basic requirements for the methods, and controls the process, when a primary is either not called or not required. Unlike a primary, these other methods are conducted by the Republican Party and may be used simultaneously to nominate candidates for public office and conduct other business such as electing Party officials. Each method is discussed in more detail on the pages that follow. A simple description is provided below.

A mass meeting is a public assembly of an unorganized group, usually voters of an election district or unit, to transact certain business as defined in the call of the mass meeting. A mass meeting is widely used to select delegates to conventions, elect Party officers, and nominate candidates for public office. Republican voters who attend the meeting cast their votes during simultaneous balloting (unlike a primary or canvass, where voting takes place over a period of several hours). Unlike a convention, there is no weighted voting.

A convention is a public assembly of delegates chosen specially as representatives of a constituent unit, or group, to act for the entire group. In conventions of the Republican Party, the delegates represent cities, counties, precincts, wards or districts and act for all Republican voters of their respective geographic subdivision. Conventions may nominate candidates for public office, elect various officials of the Republican Party, and elect delegates to other Party conventions. Voting at a convention is weighted according to a pre-determined formula specified in the call.

A party canvass (also known as a “firehouse primary”) operates much like a primary but is conducted by the appropriate Unit or Legislative District Committee of the Party. Canvasses are held on a certain date in one or more locations for a period of several hours. Republican voters cast their ballots during the canvass, and the votes are tallied following the close of the canvass. While a mass meeting or convention may have more than one round of voting, at a party canvass voters vote only once and a nomination or election may be decided by a plurality.

Given what they have announced on the following link, Republican Canvas – Prince William Cty, Manassas-Manassas Park (, it seems that the Prince William County Republican Committee has a preference for mass meetings and party canvasses (or firehouse primaries). Why is this important to you? Relatively few people participate in the nomination process. If it is important to you who the Republicans nominate and you want to participate in the process, you can to do a little research and have outsized effect on who gets the nomination.

What research?

  • Who represents you? Who represents us depends upon where we live and vote. Therefore, we need to verify which State Senate, House of Delegates, and Magisterial district we live in. See
  • Which nominations will be contested? Which of the nominations for the elections we can vote in will be contested? If a candidate does not have a challenger, that usually settles who is the nominee.
  • What kind of nomination process will be used? How Republicans will nominate each their candidates for public office? The candidates Board of County Supervisors and the candidates for the Constitutional Offices (Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney) will be selected via a party canvass. However, whether  candidates for the State Senate and House of Delegates we be selected via a primary or a mass meeting depends upon the Senate or House of Delegates district.

From the perspective of the voter, it is easiest participate in a primary election. Primary elections will be held on June 11th, and the information on the election will be available at

Participating in a mass meeting or a party canvass is a little bit more complicated. Republicans prefer these nominating processes because they want to restrict participation to voters who intend to support their nominee. However, it takes more effort on the part of the voter to find out when and where a mass meeting or a party canvass will be held. In addition, voting in a mass meeting generally requires more time.  Fortunately, the Prince William County Republican Committee posts 2019 Election Calls and News on its website.  That allows us to read the calls and figure out what we need to do to participate.

To assist in the process, we will post information on contested nominations here and link to the appropriate website that describes the nomination process.

Note that this post is Part 2 in a three-part series. Here is the first post: HOW WILL REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SELECT THEIR CANDIDATES THIS YEAR? — PART 1

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