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Chaos and the Virginia Primary

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, debate a point with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during a Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    The Virginia presidential primary is now less than a week away, and even though there are only two of a possible four candidates on the ballot, there is still the potential for the vote to create havoc.

    It is not a new phenomenon -- voters taking advantage of an open primary to cast a ballot for a candidate they may not support -- but it is one that could help defeat another candidate.

    Liz Mair, a libertarian-leaning Republican political consultant, is not very happy with the GOP presidential field.

    “I am a disenfranchised Virginia voter,” she said. “That’s actually what I would say.”

    At one time she worked for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and she liked former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, both are no longer in the race. Mair is not sure who to support, but she knows who she doesn’t like.

    “I have historically not had a lot of love for Mitt Romney,” she said.

    Mair will cast her vote for the only other option: Ron Paul. The Romney campaign is worried there are many others like her -- Republicans who aren’t ready to support the former Massachusetts governor and those who like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who are the other candidates still in the race, but are not on the ballot.

    Mair, who has been around many campaigns, believes if things fall the right way, it could have an impact.

    “I wouldn’t want to predict what that would mean numerically,” said Mair. “But I think it could result in some interesting activity.”

    And it's not just Republicans.

    "Obama and the Democrats would like to see someone other than Mitt Romney," said Bay Buchanan a former U.S. Treasurer and the sister of one-time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

    Buchanan is a Romney supporter. On a conference call Wednesday she claimed that Democrats could get involved in a GOP primary, especially if Santorum encourages them to do so like he did last week in Michigan.

    "Rick Santorum is stirring up Democrats, showing them a way they can help Obama, by voting for him," said Buchanan.

    So even though the Virginia ballot is a bit smaller than anticipated, that doesn't mean things won't be interesting.

    At this point there is nothing specifically organized, but prominent liberal blogger Ben Tribbett warned his fellow Democrats to be careful. He pointed to a State Senate caucus where Democrats helped a very conservative candidate win the nomination because they thought he could never win the general.

    That candidate? The man who is currently the attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

    More from Ryan Nobles:


    Ryan Nobles, an anchor at NBC12 in Richmond, Va., moderates the Decision Virginia blog. Nobles has been named one of America’s “Best State-Based Political Reporters” by the Washington Post. Politico recognized him as one of the “50 to Watch” political players in the U.S. You can read more from his blog by clicking here.