Virginia Republican Gubernatorial Candidates on Best Behavior at Liberty University Forum


LYNCHBURG, Virginia – The College Republicans of Liberty University hosted a forum for the Republican candidates for Virginia Governor Monday night. Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), Colonel Sergio De La Pena, Glenn Youngkin, and Peter Doran participated in the forum that was held at Thomas Road Baptist Church. The candidates were well prepared and measured as the 100+ person plus room listened intently.

Notably missing was Pete Snyder, former New Media Strategies CEO and former Republican Party of Virginia Finance Chair. Snyder declined to attend the event, and when reached for comment, Communications Director Lenze Morris stated he was meeting with convention delegates elsewhere.

In his opening statement, Youngkin responded to an offer from Kirk Cox made earlier in the campaign to name Youngkin as Secretary of Commerce and Trade with an offer of his own: an appointment as his Secretary of Education.

After the candidates addressed the crowd with their two minute openers, the first question was school choice and reopening up schools. All five candidates agreed on the topics of banning critical race theory, reopening schools five days a week, and allowing more education funding.

Senator Chase stated she wanted to start a “1-800” phone number to report college professors who target conservative students.

Later in the forum, Youngkin took an opportunity to rebut criticism from the absent Snyder campaign as his response to a question on economic development in Virginia. After recapping the statistics that only five percent of the business that his former company did was in China and seventy-five percent in the United States, he touted his expertise in putting together international business deals.

Questions about the Parole Board and the Second Amendment provided little disagreement among candidates. All candidates agreed that the entire Parole Board should be fired and investigated, while Chase and Youngkin stated they wanted a federal investigation into the parole board scandal. Chase added that she wanted to recall the Chair of the Parole Board, something her opponents did not address.

In closing remarks, candidates were asked what their first priorities were. Chase and Peter Doran started by saying they wanted to repeal all executive actions made by Governor Northam. Colonel De La Peña wanted to focus on election integrity. Both Cox and Youngkin provided specific ideas they wanted to implement on Day One.

In a post-forum interview with The Virginia Star, Youngkin stated that the event was great because voters are “concerned and frustrated, but optimistic and hopeful.” The northern Virginia businessman stated he felt very comfortable about his delegate count, “feeling a groundswell of support, with folks who have never participated in a convention, who are incredibly dedicated Republicans.” Youngkin was very pleased with his first quarter finance report and feels positive about the state of the race.

Former Speaker Cox told The Star his edge in the seven-way Republican contest is his long service in elected office and his knowledge of the levers of governance.

In the straw poll that was conducted immediately following the forum, Youngkin won with overwhelming support in the Governor’s race. Former Delegate Winsome Sears won the Lieutenant Governor’s poll, and Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) won the Attorney General’s poll.

Virginia Republicans will choose their slate of candidates at an unassembled convention on Saturday, May 8th.

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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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