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Del. Amanda Chase threatened to bolt the Republican party and run for governor as an independent last December when the state GOP decided to nominate its 2021 candidate at a convention instead of holding a primary election.
She rescinded her threat six days later, after many Republican loyalists accused her of being disloyal to the party. Then, in late March, Chase added a condition to her pledge not to run as an independent, sparking charges from some Republicans that she had gone back on her word.
Let’s examine whether Chase has changed her position.
Chase in December
To the chagrin of Chase, the state GOP’s governing board narrowly voted on Dec. 5, 2020 to hold a 2021 nominating convention instead of a primary. Chase withdrew her threat to run as an independent in a Dec. 11 Facebook video.
"I am still advocating for a primary, but I am not going to run as an independent, because if I run as an independent, that would ensure that a D would win, and that, as a true conservative R is not something that I'm willing to do so," Chase said.
This was a big deal for Republican activists. Chase, who bills herself as "Trump in heels," has significant support from rural voters attracted to her pro-gun, pro-Southern heritage stands, and her promotion of debunked claims that the 2020 presidential election was fixed.
With seven candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Chase stood a decent chance of winning a primary with a plurality vote. But the party made victory harder for her holding a convention, which must be won by a majority vote of delegates - many of them party insiders who dislike her populist style. Still, Republicans have wanted to keep Chase in their tent. The concern is that if she ran as an independent this fall, she would split the conservative vote and ensure the election of a Democrat.
Chase in March
On March 31, Chase put a caveat on her pledge to support the winner of the GOP convention.
"If Pete Snyder wins the nomination, "I’ll run as an independent," she told WRVA radio in Richmond. "You know, (if) any other candidate wins, I’ll support them wholeheartedly, just like I have any other Republican for the past ten years."
Snyder, a wealthy, well-connected Charlottesville entrepreneur, appears to have a decent shot at the nomination but - given the complexities of the convention process - it’s difficult to identify a frontrunner. There are other well-known candidates also seeking the GOP nod: Former House Speaker Kirk Cox; Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy, former business executive; and Chase.
Snyder urged party leaders to go the convention route, a path that has been riddled with potholes. Republicans originally eyed an indoor convention in May attended by thousands of delegates, only to learn such an event would violate state COVID laws limiting the size of public gatherings. In February, party leaders voted to hold a drive-in convention in parking lots at Liberty University in Lynchburg - much to the surprise of Liberty officials who said they had not been consulted. Party leaders dropped the idea after finding the university didn’t have enough parking lot space to accommodate the event.
The GOP ultimately agreed to make the nomination on May 8 from 37 remote convention sites across the state.
Chase accuses Snyder of using undue influence with the party’s governing board to rig the nomination process in his favor. She points out that Chris Marston, the state party’s lawyer, is treasurer of Snyder’s campaign. Rich Anderson, chairman of the state GOP, says he’s put a "firewall" between Marston and convention planning. Marston did, however, offer the party legal advice in February on holding a convention. The Washington Post, in an April 4 article, laid out other instances where Snyder’s campaign offered jobs to party officials who had a vote in the nominating process.
Anderson said it’s common for party officials to back candidates in nomination fights and those who have been hired this year have not been allowed to participate in convention decisions. He defended Snyder’s actions.
"A lot of this is maneuver on the political battlefield," he told WRVA. "It’s kind of like practicing politics with a license."
Chase, in December, promised she would support the Republican nominee for governor this year and would not launch an independent run for the office. In March, she added a condition: She’ll back any nominee except Pete Snyder. If he wins the GOP nomination on May 8, Chase said she will run as an independent.
We can’t say Chase has u-turned because there are seven Republicans running for governor and Snyder may not win the nomination. As of now, Chase is still a Republican candidate. But there has been a partial change in her position, and we rate it a Half-Flip.
Amanda Chase, WRVA interview, March 31, 2021 (0:54 mark).
Richmond Times Dispatch, "Chase will run for governor as independent following GOP vote," Dec. 6, 2020.
The Washington Post, "Liberty University surprised by Virginia GOP plans for drive-in convention on campus," Feb. 24, 2021.
The Washington Post, "Va. Republicans pick convention over primary to navigate Trumpism in 2021 governor’s race," Dec. 5, 2020.
Chris Marston, letter to Virginia GOP Chairman Rich Anderson, Feb.15, 2021.
Rich Anderson, WRVA interview, April 1, 2021 (14:08 mark).
Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Chase shifts, seeks nod at GOP convention," Dec. 12, 2020.
The Washington Post, "Unorthodox Republican contest for Virginia governor breeds confusion, suspicion," April 4, 2021.
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