ICYMI: Over the Weekend, Virginia GOP Infighting Escalates at Candidate Forum
Over the weekend, Virginia Republicans were at each other’s throats, showing that solidifying a nomination method has done little to tamp down the flames of the GOP civil war.
Nearly all of the candidates attended a candidate forum hosted by the chairman of the Battlefield Chapter of Virginia Patriots, who is known for posting inappropriate videos back in 2017.
The biggest clash of the event was between Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder over the mysterious negative attacks against Youngkin by three Republican-related groups. Youngkin accused Snyder of plotting the attacks: “We all know who it is Pete. We all know. Pete you deserve to give all these people an apology.”
Snyder countered with an ominous warning: “If I ever hit you, you will know.”
The candidates have also continued their crusade to promote dangerous conspiracy theories about the election in an attempt to win over the Trumpiest voters. When asked about election fraud, Snyder claimed he has the “best operation to stop any steal,” Chase reminded voters she was censured because she “stood up for Trump” and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally leading up to the insurrection, and de la Peña said, “here in the US you still don’t know who won.”
In true VA GOP fashion, tonight’s candidate forum has been canceled due to poor planning.
Also over the weekend, Amanda Chase was interviewed on CNN, and used her platform on national television to threaten a third party run, again. When asked if the convention was an effort to stop her from winning the nomination, she said “Absolutely. make no mistake. If they get to the point where the 72 members don’t allow the people to participate, I will declare the Republican party is dead, and I will start the Patriot Party of Virginia.”
Read more about the Virginia GOP’s train wreck of a primary below.
CNN: Virginia’s off-year elections could pose key test for both parties
The story of Virginia politics in 2021 is a tale of two political parties. Democrats are riding a wave of demographic change and suburban revolt away from the GOP to political power. And Republicans are searching for a way forward, while trying to placate a base increasingly loyal to Trump and motivated by conspiratorial views.
Virginia’s off-year elections have always made it a proving ground for both political parties. But this year more than normal, it could be a potential harbinger of things to come for both parties.
Democrats are moving with a confidence that the political winds are at their backs as the state has become more diverse racially and in terms of socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
But the response in the state Republican Party to a loss of leadership at the state level and Trump’s almost 10-point drubbing in the November election, has not been to turn away from the politics pushed by the former president.
With Northam prohibited by the state constitution from running for a second consecutive term, the race for governor is wide open for both parties. Six Republicans and five Democrats are in the running for their party’s nomination.
Perhaps no other candidate for the GOP nomination for governor is seeking to embody Trumpism more than State Sen. Amanda Chase.
“I think President Trump embodied a lot of the principles that Virginians feel,” Chase said. “I’ve been campaigning for over a year now talking to everyday average Virginians, and what they like about President Trump, what they like about me is that we speak the truth.”
But Chase has hinged much of her statewide and increasingly national profile on mimicking misinformation and lies touted by Trump. Most notably, her continued support for the debunked falsehood that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
Her comments in the wake of the January 6 riot, seemingly praising some rioters (she later said she was referring to other peaceful demonstrators who attended the rally in the Capitol) was one of several controversies that prompted the state Senate to censure her in a bipartisan fashion.
Chase has now taken to waging a war on the Republican Party itself, unsuccessfully attempting to stop the party from holding a nominating convention instead of a primary to select its nominee.
Chase said the move to hold a convention is an attempt to stop her from winning.
“Make no mistake, there are people who are terrified of strong, independent, conservative women,” Chase said. “If they get to the point where the 72 members don’t allow the people to participate, I will declare the Republican Party as dead, and I will start the Patriot party of Virginia.”
She is one of a half dozen Republicans running for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, most of whom, like her, echo some version of Trump’s election fraud claims.
Chase has also battled over Covid-19 restrictions — refusing to wear a mask during the legislative session resulting in lawmakers placing a plexiglass box around her desk.
Asked to elaborate on her plan to control the virus if she were elected, Chase also touted hydroxychloroquine, a drug once pushed by Trump as a treatment for Covid-19 that has since been found to be ineffective. And she added that people could be protected from the virus by taking supplements such as Vitamin D. Both suggestions are contrary to the best available science and could potentially be harmful.
If the Republican Party is seeking to move away from this sort of rhetoric, Chase is hoping to make that task more difficult. She carries around her willingness to push these claims as a badge of honor.
“We have two different types of Republicans. We have firebrand Republicans, and I believe we have weak kneed Republicans. I’m a firebrand Republican,” Chase said. “I’m not afraid to speak what I believe is the truth and what a lot of other Virginians and Americans across Virginia — I’m going to be their voice.”
Amid the intra-party debate in the GOP over Trumpism and Chase, Democrats in the state of Virginia see an opportunity.
“I think they will continue to lose, and Virginia will continue to shift,” said Filler-Corn when asked how the GOP would fare if they continued to push Trump-inspired politics. “What does that mean for the election? It means we have to work hard to make sure that the other side doesn’t flip things around and roll it all back. Because it could be rolled back like that.”