Republican Party of Virginia Basics: 101
The core mission of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) as an institution is to win campaigns to elect Republicans to public office.
The most basic unit of RPV structure is the county/city level unit committee. Almost all the real action in party operations - voter registration, volunteer mobilization, and party governance decisions happen at this party unit level. Every official county or independent city in Virginia - 133 in total - is entitled to its own unit. Some smaller units, 11 altogether, have joined with other local units to form combined committees. An understanding of political party operations begins by learning that these county Republican committees are where most of the real work is done, and where most of the decisions are made.
Two additional committee types - the 11 Congressional District committees, and the state party itself - form a statewide structure that execute the state party plan, adjudicate disputes, perform as organizing vehicles for their county committees, and act to facilitate the winning of campaigns for public office.
In addition, there a number of non-localized, statewide units independently represented on various committees. The three major organizations - called affiliate groups - are the Virginia Federation of Republican Women; the College Republican Federation of Virginia; and the Young Republican Federation of Virginia.
Finally, the two state legislative GOP caucuses, the Virginia House of Delegates GOP Caucus and the Virginia State Senate GOP Caucus, play a (very minor) role in state party governance, and are represented with seats on the State Central Committee.
Temporary committees for House of Delegates and State Senate districts are periodically convened by county committees for the purpose of nominating candidates, but serve no other organizational function.
County and City Unit Committees
County and city unit committees are where the real work of political fundamentals is done. Getting involved in your local county/city committee should be at the top of your list, if you are serious about defeating the Democrats and putting them out of power.
By volume, almost all the efforts in voter outreach, party messaging and promotion, volunteer organization, and fundraising, and in the sheer number of individuals involved, are occurring through these committees.
A critical role of each committee chairman, be it county, Congressional District, or State Legislative district is to conduct the nominating contest, be it primary, convention, Mass Meeting, or Firehouse Primary, then inform the State Board of Elections who the Party's candidate will be in the subsequent General Election. The county/city committee Chairman also represents the RPV to the county/city Board of Elections and participates in pre-election testing and certification of voting machines and post-election ballot counting and reconciliation.
Conventions, Mass Meetings and Canvasses
Conventions, Mass Meetings and Canvasses are three types of political decision-making processes. Conventions and Mass Meetings are performed under the party plan and the unit committee plan, according to Robert's Rules of Order, the common standard for parliamentary procedure.
"Mass Meeting" is Virginia's name for what is more widely known as a "caucus".
Magisterial Districts and You
Magisterial Districts are a peculiar feature of Virginia's political system. Magisterial Districts are a "minor civil unit" whose existence is informal and for the purposes of political organization within counties only; independent cities do not have magisterial districts. In addition, if that weren't confusing enough, not every county has magisterial districts.
Magisterial districts are organizationally significant where they do exist; and each one has its own party Chairman. A Magisterial district is defined by a geographically coherent collection of precincts.
Some magisterial districts are very large - on average, Fairfax County's are larger than most other cities and counties in the state - and therefore carry weight well beyond their apparent position in the organizational heirarchy.
The precinct is the smallest unit of political organization. Voting in primaries, and at the public office, happens at the precinct level. In party organization, the organizer of party activities for a precinct is a Precinct Captain.
Precincts are organized within the party structure either directly from a city/county unit, or through the magisterial district sub-unit.