Primaries, not conventions: GOP weighs limiting clout of its right wing

The party leaders pushing for changes want to replace state caucuses and conventions, like the one that nominated Mr. Cuccinelli, with a more open primary system that they believe will draw a broader cross-section of Republicans and produce more moderate candidates.

Similar pushes are already underway in other states, including Montana and Utah, and last week Mitt Romney said Republicans should consider how to overhaul their presidential nominating process to attract a wider range of voters. He suggested that states holding open primaries be rewarded with more delegates to the party’s national convention. …

“Conventions by nature force candidates and campaigns to focus on a very small group of party activists,” said Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors Association and a longtime Virginia-based strategist. He grimaced at the successful movement by conservative activists in his state earlier this year to switch from a primary system to a convention system. “If the goal is actually to win elections, holding more primaries would be a good start.”