RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Republicans have chosen a primary rather than a convention as a way to elect statewide candidates in 2017.

The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia narrowly voted Saturday to have a primary for the first time since 2005, scoring a win for the party’s establishment wing. More conservative Republicans favor conventions, which give the party’s grassroots activists more sway in picking the party’s nominees. Establishment Republicans say primaries help elect more mainstream Republicans who have a better chance of success in the general election.

The tight vote for a primary could exacerbate long-running tensions in the state party, tensions that erupted in 2014 when tea party favorite Dave Brat defeated then U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a GOP congressional primary.