It’s official: Charlottesville Republicans will, for the second election in a row, not field a candidate for the election, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29, leaving the two Democratic nominees challenged only by a pair of independent candidates. Charlottesville consistently delivers the second-highest percentage of Democratic votes of any locality in the state (Petersburg always trumps us), usually around the 75% mark. This fact of demography understandably leaves Republicans uninterested in running anybody.
The trouble here is that Democrats and Republicans are given a special privilege in Charlottesville (as in most—all?—localities in Virginia) which is that they can field candidates who they select. Independent candidates Bob Fenwick and Andrew Williams have to get the signatures of 125 registered Charlottesville voters and submit that paperwork to the State Board of Elections to get on the ballot, simply because they are not affiliated with a party. So with Republicans opting out of elections, I think it’s time to seriously consider whether a third party—whether to the left or the right of Charlottesville Democrats—need to be given the right to nominate candidates, taking over that duty from the unwilling Republicans. I don’t know how that process works, but if Democrats are to be seriously challenged in an ongoing fashion, exchanging Republicans for a third party seems like a route worth exploring.