Richmond, VA — Virginia Republicans are mired in a brutally divisive, chaotic race to the right ahead of their upcoming nominating convention. As they fight for the support of hardline conservative activists, the Republican candidates for governor are scrambling to prove their allegiance to Donald Trump and take the most extreme positions they can.
As reported by VPM, Virginia Republicans are spending “unprecedented” amounts of money attacking each other, tying themselves to Donald Trump, and echoing his extreme rhetoric. Read key excerpts below and see the full report here:
VPM News: Trump Returns to Virginia Airwaves Ahead of GOP Convention
By Ben Paviour
Former President Donald Trump is back on Virginia airwaves just two months after leaving office.
A new TV ad from Republican gubernatorial hopeful Glenn Youngkin features an archival clip of Trump thanking Youngkin for helping craft a trade deal with China. Another candidate, Pete Snyder, is running TV ads that echo Trump’s rhetoric: a vow to “stop liberals from rigging the system” and pledge to “take violent illegals off our streets.” Mailings sent by Snyder’s campaign feature Trump pointing into a crowd with all-caps text saying Snyder is “fighting for President Trump’s agenda.”
The two businessmen have driven the bulk of more than $2 million in GOP TV and radio ads as of March 12, according to the ad firm Medium Buying. It’s a total that veteran political analyst Bob Holsworth calls “unprecedented” ahead of a statewide nominating convention; past events have typically drawn under 15,000 voters. And Holsworth said it underscores the challenge Republicans face in Virginia, where they must first win over conservative party activists before pivoting to a general election in a state that chose Joe Biden by ten points.
“Everyone seems to be moving to the right and moving to really try to mobilize Trump supporters,” Hollsworth said. “Their challenge is that they’re taking positions on matters such as guns, such as abortion, such as LGBTQ issues that could really damage them in the suburban areas.”
Some Republicans also question whether the money is well spent given the small audience of convention-goers. The event typically draws savvy party activists, many of whom have already made up their minds, according to GOP strategist Jimmy Keady.
“At the end of the day, that's still a very small group that they are spending millions and millions of dollars on,” Keady said.
Republicans like conservative blogger Matt Colt Hall have also been inundated with negative mailings, texts, and websites set up by shadowy political action committees.
“It's starting to get on everybody's nerves,” Hall said. “People bringing up old tax records, what somebody said 25 years ago -- ‘Who cheated who, who’s being true, and who don't even care anymore,’ as the old Alan Jackson song says.”
In many cases, it’s not clear who is behind the attacks.
Our First Principles Fund, a group attacking Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) for his vote to expand Medicaid in Virginia, among other points, has spent at least $68,000 on TV and radio ads attacking the gubernatorial hopeful since March 8 without filing any paperwork with the Virginia Department of Elections. State code requires groups to file a “statement of organization” within ten days of spending at least $200. [...]
At a candidate forum last month, Youngkin said the accusations from the group were false, noting his long track record of giving to Republican candidates and causes. He said Snyder’s campaign was behind the attacks and demanded an apology.
“If I ever hit you, you will know,” Snyder responded.
Snyder has also been on the receiving end of attacks. Some Republicans received unattributed texts attacking Snyder for 2015 comments he made as a Fox News commentator in which he said Trump “sounds like a racist jerk.” Voters were also sent mailers from the Commonwealth Conservative Fund claiming “Sneaky Pete’s” former social media firm, New Media Strategies, received nearly $300,000 from Senate Democrats for work it did in 2006 (federal campaign filings show the company received about half that in 2005-06). [...]
Another Trump loyalist in the race -- state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian) -- has spent almost two years building grassroots, volunteer support that could give her an edge in the convention, according to Keady, the GOP analyst. Keady said he disagreed with “nearly everything she stands for” but argued she had a run “a very good ground operation.”
“At the end of the day, I've always been a little bullish about Amanda Chase because she's where the base is at,” Keady said.
Chase made that case at a forum hosted by Princess Anne Republican Women on Monday. She echoed false claims of a stolen 2020 election, boasted of her participation in the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally that led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, and seemed proud of her censure by the state Senate.
“I was the one that had the audacity to say the 2020 presidential election was stolen and had the audacity to express my first amendment right -- to actually go to the Capitol with President Trump on January 6, and stand and witness history,” Chase said to applause.