The Virginia Department of Elections brought a motion to exclude the testimony of a proposed election expert witness for the plaintiffs—three individuals and two voluntary associations affiliated with the Republican Party of Virginia. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the Incumbent Protection Act, which provides certain elected officials with the power to choose the method of nomination used to select their political party’s nominee for office.
The expert was a Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Law at the University of Southern California. Prior to joining USC, he taught at the University of Virginia for 10 years. His work focused on legislative politics and political parties and included more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals. The expert disclosure indicated that he would testify about the nomination process under state law and the Plan of Organization of the Virginia Republican Party, the structural advantages enjoyed by incumbent office holders, and the additional advantages conferred to incumbent officeholders.
In forming his opinions related to this case, the expert relied heavily on rational choice institutionalism—a theory that posits that political outcomes are the product of preferences and institutions. Pursuant to this theory, the expert opined in his declaration that Virginia incumbents “have the ability to assess how they would perform under the different nomination methods and choose the one that they believe maximizes their chances of reelection.” He stated that “the mere existence of the Act … disadvantages challengers and benefits incumbents.”