Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is now planning to run for governor in the 2021 election as an independent candidate.
The decision comes after the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee voted 41-28 on Saturday to hold a convention instead of a primary to nominate the party’s candidates for the 2021 races, according to previous reporting from The Virginia Star.
Since launching her campaign, Chase has threatened to run as an independent if Republicans choose to have a convention, and she officially announced the move after Saturday’s vote through a statement on Facebook.
“I am a Republican through-and-through, and I’m the same person regardless of labels. But I feel very strongly that we have a primary for this one reason,” Chase said in an interview with The Star. “If Virginia Republicans are ever going to win a state election, they must allow Virginians to vote and participate in the nomination process to [choose] our Republican candidate.”
“We need to have a primary,” Chase added. “I think conventions should be illegal. Conventions only allow the party elite to vote, it is not representative. We are going to continue to not get the best candidates by allowing a select few people to choose our candidates, and I’m opposed to that.”
According to Ballotpedia, Virginia gubernatorial candidates are required to get 10,000 signatures, including 400 qualified voters from the state’s 11 congressional districts, as well as submitting the appropriate paperwork to appear on the ballot.
The never-bashful Chase said she has 150 percent confidence that she will be able to collect the necessary signatures thanks to an extensive grassroots ground game and described winning the election as an independent as “more difficult, but it’s not impossible.”
Chase running as an independent would likely doom the Republican nominee for governor because the two candidates would be splitting votes from conservative voters throughout the state and give the Democratic nominee a large advantage in the race.
It could also end up benefiting House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and other Republicans legislators in their push to reclaim control of the chamber next year from Democrats.
The Star reached out to Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), the other announced GOP candidate, and entrepreneur Pete Snyder, who is expected to announce a Republican bid, for comment. Snyder did not want to offer any comment and Cox did not respond before press time.
On Saturday, Cox put out a statement about the central committee’s vote, where he blasted Chase.
“Amanda Chase’s antics have long grown more than tiresome,” Cox wrote. “Her threat to run as an independent is based solely on the fact that she knows principled, conservative Republicans will never tolerate the demagogue she has become.”
Chase, however, has not completely given up the possibility of running as a Republican in a primary because she claims grassroots activists and others upset by the outcome are mounting pressure on the committee to meet again and reconsider the vote.
“I’ve talked to a number of people and you’ve got some new folks who are on the state central committee who maybe didn’t understand,” Chase said. “They were under the impression that if you wanted to have a more conservative process, you had to go with a convention.”
Chase even said that she was on the phone with one of the members of the committee who said they were going to influence five others to change their vote to having a primary, and that she fully expects this to happen.
The Star reached out to Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson for comment, but did not get a response before press time.
It remains to be seen how likely that possibility truly is, but with the chaos of Chase’s decision and the real threat of splitting the vote, the state central committee may decide to reverse course.
For now, though, Chase is still running as an independent, just like she promised, and state Republicans will nominate their candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general by a party convention.
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