Virginia GOP to Nominate Mark Warner Challenger via Convention

Republicans will attempt to challenge Warner. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Virginia Republicans voted on May 17 to hold a nominating convention next year — rather than a primary — to select a challenger to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The move, which came at the state party's annual convention in Richmond, could affect the GOP field that vies for the nomination. Conventions, where only party activists vote, often nominate more conservative candidates than the broader GOP primary electorate.

Meanwhile, with the focus on the gubernatorial race, there has been little chatter about any candidates laying the groundwork to take on Warner. The former governor remains the most popular politician in the state. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found Warner with a 59 percent job approval rating.

Over the weekend, the party chose three conservative candidates — Ken Cuccinelli for governor, E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor and Mark Obenshain for attorney general — to run for the three state offices up in November. Cuccinelli faces former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe in a race that recent polling has shown to be close.

For the 2014 Senate race, the GOP state central committee can still reverse course later this year and opt to hold a primary.