The convention system favors Cuccinelli, the darling of tea party conservatives, over Bolling. Bolling decried the convention system because he said it limited the access for regular voters that can't travel to Richmond as well as potential voters in the military who cannot participate in party functions while serving. He followed up this weekend by releasing a statement lamenting the loss of several party veterans following the latest round of elections. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of new members on the State Central Committee who seem determined to take control of the Party at any cost, without regard to the long term ramifications of their actions. That concerns us a great deal, and it should concern every Virginia Republican," he said through his spokesperson Taylor Thornley. Party veterans already on the state committee are seen as more likely to prefer Bolling, a long-time state legislator and two-term lieutenant governor, over Cuccinelli, who has only held office during the last 10 years. That same logic suggests the Tea Party hero Cuccinelli will have greater voter intensity than the less-combative Bolling, so more of his voters are likely to show up at the convention and endure the hours it takes to cast votes. Likewise, those same friends and fans of the attorney general are taking leadership positions within the party by showing up en masse to party functions. It's a manner of party restructuring similar to what Rep. Ron Paul's supporters did in various state GOP parties this year in Iowa and Alaska. It remains to be seen just how Cuccinelli's supporters will use their power at the convention next year. However, the more meetings where they can steer the agenda, the more influence they will eventually gain when it comes time to determine the leaders of the convention itself. "I wouldn't call the Cuccinelli folks the Ron Paul crowd; it's not the same thing," said Kyle Kondik, an analyst with the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "But they're (in on) the below-the-surface battles going on for the heart and soul of the Republican Party." According to Kondik, Cuccinelli's supporters are becoming "stronger" within the party than the "establishment wing," represented by Bolling and Gov. Bob McDonnell. State Del. Bob Marshall, who barely lost the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate at the 2008 state party convention to former Gov. Jim Gilmore, explained that the real power for either Bolling or Cuccinelli will come from shaping the membership of the credentials committee. Members of that committee are the ones who decide which party delegates are qualified to vote. "You want to have as many of your own supporters in these positions to make sure you're not overlooked," said Marshall.
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