Former Trump official Sergio de la Peña announced Monday that he’s entering the race to be the Republican nominee for Virginia governor. de la Peña served 30 years in the Army, where he reached the rank of colonel. He also served as Trump’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and he says that experience will set him apart from the suddenly crowded field of GOP gubernatorial candidates.
“I’m the only candidate that President Trump’s Administration tapped to work for them — helping run the Western Hemisphere at the Pentagon for the last four years. I’m the only candidate who’s served in the military, retiring as a Colonel after thirty years of service,” de la Peña told The Virginia Star.
De la Peña was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and after legally immigrating to the U.S., joined a college ROTC program. From there he served in the Army for 30 years, and then worked as a business development defense contractor. In the Pentagon, he handled issues related to security, defense, policy, and funding, according to his U.S. Department of Defense bio.
“In his last assignment, he served as the U.S. Northern Command J59, Chief of the International Affairs Division, responsible for developing the command’s theater engagement strategy that provided military to military guidance for training, exchanges, exercises, and sales with Canada and Mexico,” his bio states.
Despite a national environment where many mainstream Republicans are leaving Trump and his complicated public image behind, de la Peña is doubling down with Trump-style policies.
“I support President Donald Trump,” he said in a campaign video. “I campaigned for him in 2016, and was tapped to serve at the Pentagon in his administration. The liberal elites, they don’t get it. They can’t understand. They haven’t seen America through my eyes. I’ve lived the American dream.”
De la Peña’s campaign website paints a picture of a candidate who is pro-military, pro-law enforcement, pro-term limits, anti-COVID-19 lockdowns, pro-tax cuts, and pro-life.
“When Sergio immigrated legally, he learned English and assimilated. He supports building a wall to stop illegal immigration, and making English the official language. Sergio would eliminate taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants in Virginia like in-state college tuition and drivers licenses for illegals,” his website states.
De la Peña is running against State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), and ex-Carlyle CEO and current philanthropist Glenn Youngkin. Business philanthropist Pete Snyder and Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) are also flirting with running for the nomination.
Chase and de la Peña may have the most in common politically, given both candidates’ passionate support for Trump. Chase has spent close to a year campaigning for the GOP nomination, and has a large, committed base of supporters.
On his website, de la Peña said, “I campaigned for Trump in 2016 and 2020, and the administration tapped me to help run the Western Hemisphere. I’ve seen firsthand the horrors of socialism and understand we must stop the far-left from turning Virginia socialist.”
He added, “Let them try and cancel me.”
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