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Party leaders explain Virginia delegate selection process

GOP, Democrats choosing delegates for conventions

With delegate counts making national headlines and the potential for a contested Republican National Convention in July, delegates selected by the GOP and Democratic Party in each state could play a major role in the candidate nomination process.

Republican Party of Virginia Communications Director David D'Onofrio said there will be 49 delegates from Virginia.

Three delegates will come from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. There are also 13 delegates selected at the GOP’s Virginia Quadrennial Convention, which will take place in Harrisonburg in late April. The other delegates representing the Virginia GOP will be the party chairman and two members of the Republican National Committee.

In Virginia, delegates of the Republican Party are bound for the first round of voting based on the results of the primary, D'Onofrio said.

"Virginia rules say that our delegates are bound to the primary decision for the first ballot. So regardless of the fact that Ben Carson and [Florida Sen.] Marco Rubio have fallen out or suspended their campaigns … they will still receive votes from the Virginia delegation and others because of that," D'Onofrio said. "So what we’ve decided on Super Tuesday is what’s going to hold true for the first ballot of the Virginia Delegation in Cleveland."

Donald Trump will receive 17 delegates, Rubio will receive 16, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) will receive eight, Gov. John Kasich (OH) will receive five and Ben Carson will receive three.

Each district within Virginia has a different process by which they elect their delegates, D’Onofrio said.

“It varies from district to district, congressional district to congressional district, or at the state level, but basically the process is you put yourself forward as a candidate for delegate and then you go before whatever the process is in each locality,” D’Onofrio said. “You put forth your qualifications and those who attend the [district] convention vote upon you.”

The Democratic Party of Virginia chooses delegates in a different manner, Virginia Democratic Party Communications Director Emily Bolton said.

Virginia will send 95 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will receive 62 delegates and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) will receive 33 delegates.

“The delegates are allocated based on the primary results and then each Congressional District holds nominating conventions,” Bolton said.

At these conventions, national delegates and state delegates are selected. Although 62 delegates have already been determined, there are 21 “at-large” delegates selected at the state convention, and there are 12 “pledged party leader and elected official delegates.” There are also 14 “unpledged” delegates who some people refer to as “superdelegates.”

These superdelegates are not elected by the party conventions and are free to select any candidate for the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention.

Bolton also said the Democratic Party differs in its delegate selection process by requiring a gender quota for its delegates and having a diversity committee that works to meet certain percentages of different groups being represented.

“We have to have an equal amount of men and women, and that’s something that’s very important to us,” Bolton said. “We have a Diversity Committee that is dedicated to trying to meet certain percentages. And it’s not just race, it’s also LGBT and members of the disabled community.”

In the Republican Party, if no single candidate receives the majority of votes from 1,237 delegate votes at the convention, a second vote is held. During this time many delegates are released from the requirement of voting in line with the primary results and may vote for anyone they chose.

“When you have a Brokered Convention that means on the second ballot, delegates are pledged for the first ballot, but on the second ballot literally anyone can be chosen. They didn’t have to run,” Bolton said. “Is that likely that they’ll pick anybody? Who knows. This is 2016 and it’s been the craziest year of presidential politics we’ve ever seen.”