Virginia GOP Gubernatorial Candidates in Mad Scramble for Delegates in Wide Open Race


The Republican Party of Virginia announced Friday that the filing deadline had passed for the 2021 Republican Party of Virginia unassembled convention, creating a scramble for the wide open Governor’s race. The unassembled convention is scheduled for Saturday, May 8th, with over 30 polling locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to the Republican Party of Virginia, all but two announced candidates for Governor filed for, and paid, their filing fee.

The following candidates have properly filed with the Republican Party of Virginia and will appear on the Republican Party of Virginia 2021 Statewide unassembled convention ballot.

State Senator Amanda Chase

State Senator Amanda Chase (I-Chesterfield) has properly filed with the Republican Party of Virginia. Senator Chase is the self-proclaimed “Trump-in-heels” candidate who thrives on causing controversy in the conservative political sphere of the Commonwealth. The Senator is truly a conservative independent, due to her not being a member of her local Republican unit, nor is she a member of the Virginia State Senate Republican Caucus.

Senator Chase has had a roller coaster of a campaign. At the beginning of the year, she was censured by the Virginia Senate. The censure was related to past actions, such as getting into a verbal altercation with a Capital Police officer in Richmond and her more recent actions of calling capitol protesters on January 6th “patriots.” Earlier this month, Senator Chase’s campaign Facebook page was permanently deleted for violating Facebook Terms and Conditions.

Over the weekend, Senator Chase held a fundraiser in the Alexandria area. She has also been seen campaigning in Norton, Virginia and Chesterfield, Virginia this weekend. Senator Chase does keep a hectic campaign schedule, religiously traveling the Commonwealth.

Senator Chase is still seen by many to be the frontrunner of the race, being solidly in the top tier of candidates. She has a natural base of support in many Trump voters.  It is still very possible for Senator Chase to win this nomination.

Former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Delegate Kirk Cox

Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) has properly filed for the Governor’s race. Speaker Cox, the 30+ year delegate, has quickly built up space in the Establishment lane for the Republican convention. Cox has been campaigning across the Commonwealth racking up endorsements from the rank and file of the House of Delegates Republican Caucus. He has also been reviewing hot dogs at local diners and dives, much to the enjoyment of Virginia politicos.

Speaker Cox was campaigning in Harrisonburg over the weekend at an Election Integrity Forum.

Speaker Cox has a firm grasp on the elected official and establishment wing of the Republican Party. However, some in the Republican Party of Virginia speculate how that can be translated into a convention win.

Colonel Sergio De La Pena

Colonel Sergio De La Pena (US Army Ret.) also completed his filing requirements for the Governor’s race over the weekend. De La Pena has been campaigning across the Commonwealth, surprisingly running to the right of many in the Republican field. Colonel De La Pena is a Mexican-American immigrant, retired US Army Colonel, and former Undersecretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere in the Trump Administration.

Colonel De La Pena is a happy warrior, criss crossing the state with a conservative message of the American Dream. He has not garnered as much support as some have, but his effort makes up for that. Colonel De La Pena is a candidate to watch.

Peter Doran

Former foreign policy think tank director Peter Doran has properly filed. Mr. Doran has centralized his campaign around the idea of lowering the state income tax rate to zero.

Mr. Doran was campaigning in Virginia Beach over the weekend. It is lost on many in the Republican Party why he is running. With no endorsements, a lack of staff, announcing his campaign very late in the season, and until the finance reports are made public, we have no indicator of Mr. Doran’s financial backing or base of support. We will have to wait to see what Mr. Doran can do in the next five weeks to garner more support.

Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson

Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson (R-Roanoke City) has properly filed for the Republican nomination for Governor. Sheriff Johnson served from 2005 until she was defeated in the 2013 Sheriff’s election. In 2014, Sheriff Johnson was the Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates for District 11 Special Election, with a district comprising most of Roanoke City. Sheriff Johnson lost overwhelmingly to then Roanoke city organizer and now candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke City). Her loss was an overwhelming embarrassment to the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus, who sunk $100,000+ into the race to then lose with only 29% of the vote. Sheriff Johnson has no active presence on social media, no website, no staff no presence of campaigning outside the Roanoke Valley, and many consider this to be a campaign going nowhere. Many in the Republican Party of Virginia consider Johnson as a candidate going nowhere, with many scratching their head as to why she is running.

Pete Snyder 

Pete Snyder, media technology entrepreneur and former Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, has properly filed for the Republican nomination for Governor. Snyder ran for the Republican nomination Lieutenant Governor in 2013, coming in second to E.W. Jackson. Jackson went on to lose the race and Snyder became the new rising star of the Republican Party of Virginia. Snyder since then has served as the Finance Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia, Chairman of the Ed Gillespie for Governor campaign in 2017, and frequent Fox News Contributor. Snyder also rose to prominence in Virginia by creating his Virginia 30 Day Fund, saving thousands of businesses across the Commonwealth with grants during the pandemic. Snyder’s central campaign issue revolves around opening schools five days a week, something Governor Northam and teacher’s unions vehemently oppose.

Mr. Snyder campaigned in Rocky Mount, Bedford, Harrisonburg, and Old Town Alexandria over the weekend. To the pleasure of many Republican activist’s stomachs, Pete’s Pig Rig, Mr. Snyder’s Barbecue Cooking Rig, has made a return to the campaign trail. The Rig received a makeover this past year from Lawless Welding in Martinsville, VA, making it into a lean, mean, BBQ cooking machine.  Snyder is a world championship BBQ judge and a staple of his campaigns past and present has been cooking up BBQ.

Mr. Snyder tends to be the odds on favorite in this race. With a natural base of support amongst a swath of party activists and elected officials, along with a great fundraising apparatus and a strong team around him, Snyder is looking very favorable right now, definitely in the top-tier of candidates.  Mr. Snyder has the ability to win the nomination and the means to carry the campaign through the General Election.

Glenn Youngkin

Former Carlyle Group CEO and Northern Virginia businessman Glenn Youngkin also filed for the Governor’s race.  Youngkin, with a personal wealth of over $265 million and a massive team behind him, is traversing the state like a madman, signing up delegates to the convention every step of the way.

Over the weekend, multiple standing room only events were held for Youngkin in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. With a happy warrior mentality and testimony of personal faith, he has been winning over delegates every single day. Glenn Youngkin, not only by his considerable wealth, but by his tremendous work ethic, cements his status a top tier candidate for Governor.

As for the candidates who did not qualify, Merle Rutledge and Kurt Santini met their political demise on Friday. They failed to file their paperwork and also failed to pay the filing fee. Their names will not appear on the ballot at the May 8th convention.

The Convention will be held on May 8th at 30+ voting locations across the Commonwealth. More coverage on the race to be provided by The Virginia Star. 

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Matt Colt Hall is a reporter for The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattColtHall on Twitter. Send tips to [email protected] 



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