Aiming to unite Virginia Republicans, former rivals back Youngkin in governor’s race

Politics

Glenn Youngkin (photo provided by Youngkin campaign)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) took a parting shot at the Virginia GOP when thanking her supporters on Tuesday, calling the party’s convention “rigged” for limiting the voter pool.

“While we came up short in yesterday’s rigged convention that allowed only 53k registered voters to choose our next Governor out of 1.9 million Virginians who voted for President Trump; God is still in control,” Chase wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Despite nearly 54,000 Republican voters being certified as convention delegates for the May 8 convention, only a little over 30,000 submitted their ballots. When Republican candidates competed in the 2017 primary for governor, 365,803 total votes were cast, according to the state’s Department of Elections’ database.

While it was the first time Chase addressed the convention after losing out on the Republican nomination for Virginia governor to Glenn Youngkin, it was not the first time she has blasted the state party’s decision to opt for a nominating convention.

Chase threatened to run as an independent, before reversing course, and even sued the Republican Party of Virginia in an effort to force a primary. The lawsuit was tossed out by the judge in February.

Admitting that she wasn’t expecting defeat, Chase shared hopes to hold a “thank you tour across Virginia” after returning from vacation with her husband. Unlike several other candidates who lost Monday, Chase did not mention Youngkin or her support for his bid.

Pete Snyder, a business executive who was Youngkin’s biggest challenger in the convention, was the first to back Youngkin as the GOP nominee after conceding before the final results were announced. “While certainly would have preferred a W, I send my heartfelt congratulations to @glennyoungkin on a tremendous race + deserved win.  He + the ticket have my 100% support,” Snyder wrote Monday night.

Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), a former Virginia House speaker who did not run for re-election for his seat after being in the chamber since 1990, told his supporters he backs Youngkin in a statement Tuesday.

“Even though I will not be on the ballot this fall for the first time in 32 years,” Cox said. “Glenn has my full and unwavering support, I hope you will give him yours as well.”

A spokeswoman for Cox’s campaign did not respond to 8News’ request for an interview.

Sergio de la Peña congratulated Youngkin on Twitter after Snyder conceded, writing “it’s time for us as Republicans to all unite and win Virginia!” Since sweeping the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2009, Virginia Republicans have not won a statewide election.

Former president Donald Trump did not back any Republican candidate seeking the party’s nomination for Virginia governor before the convention, instead deciding to wait until after the winner was announced.

“Congratulations to Glenn Youngkin for winning the Republican nomination for Governor of Virginia,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday morning. “Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

A source close to Youngkin’s campaign told 8News he was surprised by Trump’s endorsement.

While he did not distance himself from Trump, other candidates, including Sergio de la Peña, openly talked about Trump more than Youngkin did during the campaign trail. Youngkin did make “voter integrity” a top priority, an issue that Republicans have pushed after false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen in favor of President Joe Biden.

“Our campaign is bringing everybody together to bring a new day to Virginia,” a statement from Youngkin sent to 8News read. “Republicans, independents, Democrats all recognize that political dynasty of Terry McAuliffe wants to take Virginia so far left and that’s not where we want to go.”

McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor with the most financial backing and leading in polls, responded to Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin with his own statement Tuesday. Trump went after McAuliffe in his statement endorsing Youngkin, attacking his connection with the Clintons and claiming the former governor is “responsible for many of the problems Virginia currently has.”

“Glenn Youngkin spent his campaign fawning all over Donald Trump, and now Trump has returned the favor by wholeheartedly endorsing him,” McAuliffe said in his statement. “Virginians have rejected Donald Trump’s hate, conspiracy theories, and dangerous lies at every turn, and we’re going to do it again to his hand-picked, extreme right-wing candidate Glenn Youngkin this November.”

Despite Trump’s popularity and sway in the Republican Party, Virginia has shifted further blue since he was elected. Trump lost Virginia by 5% to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and then by 10% to Biden in 2020.

Sen. Chase had been one of the most vocal supporters for Trump during the race, referring to herself as “Trump in heels” and even traveling to Florida to meet with him.

While the encounter did not lead to an endorsement, Chase was enthusiastic about the meeting, telling 8News in an interview before the convention that Trump said he knew who she was and that he gave her a fist bump.

Chase did not respond to requests for an interview Monday night, but her Facebook post was published not long after Trump shared his official endorsement of Youngkin.

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