Virginia Republicans chose not to support Amanda Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels,” in her bid to defeat Democrats for the governor’s seat in November. Chase, a state senator, made national headlines when he accused Democrats of “treason” in the 2020 election and advocated for former President Donald Trump to declare martial law in order to stay in power. She objected to the decision to hold the Saturday convention instead of a primary election, and despite strong polling, she lost her bid for the Republican nomination for Virginia governor on Tuesday.
According to John Massoud, a Strasburg town council member, more than 50,000 people signed up as delegates, making it the largest political convention for a state in US history. It’s also the first time delegates have used a rank-choice voting method, in which voters rank candidates from first to last.
If a candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, they are declared the winner. If not, a new counting procedure is used, which redistributes votes as losing candidates are eliminated.
Officials warned that counting ballots could take days, and Glenn Youngkin, former co-CEO of investment firm The Carlyle Group, was not declared the official winner until Tuesday.
Chase had an early lead over her Republican challengers for the nomination, and she came out on top in a Christopher Newport University poll in February. According to the poll, she received 17 percent of Republican support, putting her 10 points ahead of Virginia delegate Kirk Cox, who received the second-highest level of support.
At the time, the majority of Republicans, 55 percent, were still undecided, so the race was still wide open. As the convention approached, Chase’s lead over her opponents appeared to grow. Chase led two of the three polls conducted in the days leading up to the convention, with 22 percent and 29 percent support, respectively.
In a poll of likely convention delegates, not just registered Republicans, Chase came in near the bottom of the pack. According to a Trafalgar Group poll conducted on Youngkin’s behalf, Chase and Cox received only 10% of the vote. Youngkin had a double-digit lead over Pete Snyder, an entrepreneur and marketing executive, with 38%.
Voters were also unconvinced that Chase could win the nomination. Despite being the favorite in a Change Research poll, when asked who they thought would win the convention, Youngkin received 27 percent of the vote.
The choice of Virginia Republicans for the nomination reflects how the state party views the Trump brand’s ability to continue winning elections, particularly in blue states. Chase has been the most outspoken in his portrayal of Trump, earning the support of Roger Stone and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Chase praised Trump’s refusal to concede the election in December, writing on Facebook that Joe Biden was not and “never will be” her president. She urged Trump to declare martial law in order to allow the military to hold another election.
In response to Cox’s criticism, she reaffirmed her support for Trump and accused the Democratic Party of “hijacking” the 2020 election and committing “treason.”
“Hopefully, there will be enough clear-thinking Republicans to show Ms. Chase that her kind of politics is not welcome in Virginia or in the Republican Party,” Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, a Republican, said in December.
She was also censured by the Virginia Senate for repeating Trump’s claims of election fraud and attending the rally he held before a mob stormed the Capitol on January 6.
While Chase received support from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, she did not win over all of Trump’s allies. Snyder was endorsed by both Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and Sarah Sanders, his former press secretary, while Senator Ted Cruz backed Youngkin.
Democrats have yet to select a candidate, but Youngkin is expected to run against former Governor Terry McAuliffe, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner. Republicans face an uphill battle in putting one of their own in the governor’s seat in a state that is turning increasingly blue.
Chase tweeted on Saturday that she still has “plenty of time” to run as an independent, so voters may see her name on the ballot.