HARRISONBURG, Va. (CN) - A Virginia law improperly lets one incumbent politician dictate how his party selects nominees, Republicans claim in Federal Court.
The 24th Senatorial District Republican Committee filed the complaint on Feb. 25 against the Virginia Department of Elections, a day after Sen. Emmett Hanger, the district's only incumbent, informed the board of elections that he chose primary as the nomination method for 2015.
Committee chairman Kenneth Adams says the committee already designated convention as the district's means of nomination at its Dec. 3, 2014, meeting.
Under the Incumbent Protection Act, however, Adams says he must certify Hanger's choice of primary, violating his associative rights and those of the committee and the party.
Adams and the committee say "the act purports to prevent political parties from determining their own nomination method under circumstances in which 'there is only one incumbent of that party for the district.'"
Allowing an incumbent to determine the method of nomination tramples the party's rights to free association under the First and 14th Amendments, the lawsuit alleges. Adams and the committee say a political party has a right to determine the process by which it selects a representative.
The board of elections published Hanger's choice of primary in its "2015 Methods of Nomination," creating an immediate controversy that must be resolved by the court, according to the complaint.
"Absent prompt action by the court the general public and the declared candidates will be uncertain as to which nomination method will determine the Party's nominee for Senate District 24," the action says.
Adams and the committee are represented by John Wirth with Nelson, McPherson, Summers & Santos in Staunton.
In addition to the state elections board, chairman James Alcorn and two other board officials are named as defendants.
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