How Republicans Hope To Turn Virginia Red In 2016

Virginia has started to look an awful lot like Illinois since President Obama entered the White House, but Republicans believe they can — and must — win the state in the 2016 presidential election.

The Old Dominion has just decided to pick its Republican presidential candidate via a primary rather than a convention. Virginia's nominating contest will function as part of the "SEC primary," within Super Tuesday's 12 state nominating contests on March 1. "SEC" is a reference to the collegiate Southeastern Conference's prominence in NCAA football. But no school in Virginia participates in the SEC, and the state's shifting demographics have made competition in Virginia a whole different ballgame.

Ford O'Connell, a veteran of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and Republican strategist who has been active in Virginia electoral politics, said GOP presidential hopefuls need to follow Gillespie's example as the candidate who showed how Republicans could take back Virginia. While Republicans previously took the state for granted in presidential elections, O'Connell said, they will make a much larger push for Virginia in 2016. 

Read more from Ryan Lovelace at The Washington Examiner

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Analysis & Political Strategy