Delegates to the weekend's Virginia Republican Party convention in Richmond don't have to pick any nominees for autumn's elections, but they will resolve a brewing dispute over how to pick next year's nominees.
The state GOP's governing central committee voted last year to decide the 2013 gubernatorial nomination in a primary election. Now, some within the party want to change it to instead hold a statewide convention.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and his supporters oppose a convention and say that it's not only bad politics and an unfair attempt to change rules in the middle of a game, but that it also disenfranchises Republicans serving in the military. Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor back Bolling.
Supporters of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a tea party favorite and Bolling's rival for the nomination, support a convention, which they could more easily dominate.
Because Virginia does not register voters by party, its primaries are open to all voters, and Republican conservatives have long contended -- with little documentation -- that primaries allow Democrats, independents and others to meddle in their party's nomination process. They prefer conventions as a way to screen out non-Republicans.
More than 4,000 delegates are registered for the two-day convention at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, which opens at 10 a.m. on Friday.