Six days after the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) decided to hold a nominating convention instead of a primary, gubernatorial candidate State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) finally declared that she would run in the convention, and not as an independent.
“My team and I have received thousands of communications across the Commonwealth this past week asking me to continue to run as the next Republican Governor of Virginia,” Chase said on Facebook on Friday.
Last Saturday, immediately after the RPV State Central Committee (SCC) had voted for a convention, Chase said, “It’s official. While I am a Republican; I will be seeking the nomination in a primary as an Independent.”
Chase’s statement, combined with anger over the GOP choosing a convention, led to a firestorm of harassment within the RPV over the past week. Had Chase run as an independent in the general election, she would likely have ruined the GOP’s hopes to occupy the Governor’s Mansion in 2021.
In response to criticism, Chase said on her Facebook page on Wednesday, “Members of GOP Establishment and Elite knew my stance for MONTHS. So they voted for secrecy instead of transparency. (No surprise there).”
As a result of her passionate base, Chase would have performed well in a primary — but she’s also expected to perform well in an unassembled convention. Chase’s attraction is more persona than policy — she’s known as a fighter who doesn’t give up.
The SCC is expected to hold an unassembled convention, where delegates drive to one of many locations across Virginia to drop off their ballots. It will also use ranked-choice voting, a system where delegates can choose multiple candidates for a seat and list them in order of preference. As candidates are eliminated, their ballots go to people ranked lower on the ballots. As a result, it’s important for candidates to not alienate another candidate’s base or they risk not picking up votes as other candidates are eliminated.
Chase is well-known across the state, and has a passionate base that will turn out for a convention. To win the nomination, potential candidates Pete Snyder and Glenn Youngkin will have to find a way to paint Chase as unelectable in the general election. A potential method is indirect attacks through third-party independent expenditures, highlighting flaws in Chase as a candidate without angering her base.
Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is taking a more direct approach, and has already publicly attacked Chase. When Chase said she was running as an independent, Cox called her a demagogue and said in a statement, “Amanda Chase’s antics have long grown more than tiresome.”
However, Chase has a head-start on Cox. She has 134,250 followers on Facebook to Cox’s 10,776. In a Facebook video posted on Friday, Chase reiterated her concerns about conventions hurting democratic ideals. However, she said she has experience helping other candidates in a convention. By Saturday evening, her video had one thousand comments, showing high engagement from her followers.
“I know how to win for the people of Virginia,” Chase said. “I am not in this for myself. Trust me. I’m in this for you.”
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