I can’t improve on Troxell’s explanation – he was in these meetings – so I won’t try. My crack at a TL;dr is that because this system limits the number of votes from each local Unit (even if it does not limit the number of delegates from each local Unit) it creates incentives for candidates to capture local unit delegations, as they would in a more…conventional…convention. Sorry.
As I read it, the minority faction fought for a primary because they believe their preferred candidate, Amanda Chase, can win the nomination with a 35% plurality in a large field. They’re less confident in her ability to win a majority at a convention with rank-choice voting. Of course, they frame the problem as “establishment RINOs” controlling the convention results to make sure Chase has no chance, but it’s not clear how including the broader GOP electorate across Virginia helps the most extremist potential nominee.
In any event, I followed the saga as it unfolded and I think it’s important to note that through the entire debate the core question focused on how to best keep opponents from voting. We see no willingness among any of these factions to form a coalition in support of a set of common goals based on commonly accepted social agreements. At every turn each one sought to expand access to their members and deny it to others.
When someone tells you who they are believe them – and the GOP is telling us that conservatives see a no path to power in building coalitions. Easier to simply shut opponents out of the electoral process altogether, and Republicans across the country have moved to do this to Democrats.
The inner workings and various factions that make up Virginia’s Republican Party fascinate me, and I’ve been attending Tea Party meetings and following the debate between these factions pretty much since I moved to Hanover County in 2008. The short non-academic version is that a very active and motivated base has worked to take over the Virginia GOP for more than a decade. This base very much wants to enforce a kind of ideological purity that focuses far more on cultural issues than policy.
This intra-Party insurgency initially manifested itself in the capture of local Virginia GOP units by Tea Party activists after Barack Obama won the Presidency. Ideologically, this group is to the right of what I call “Chamber of Commerce” Republicans (defined as conservatives who want small government but want it to actually work). Think of this as the “conservatives lose elections because they’re not conservative enough” crowd.