April 1, 2021 News & Press Releases

ICYMI: Virginia Republicans Are Running on Donald Trump’s Election Lies

by Democratic Party of Virginia

Richmond, VA — Newsflash to Virginia Republicans: Joe Biden is the legitimately elected President of the United States. Unfortunately, the Republican candidates for governor continue to push Donald Trump’s deranged election conspiracy theories. While it has long been clear that complete allegiance to Trump is the most important litmus test in this chaotic GOP primary, new reporting today details just how devoted Virginia Republicans are to the former president’s insane election lies. 

See below for key excerpts, and read the full report here:

Reuters: In Virginia governor’s race, Trump’s false stolen-election claim looms large
By Tim Reid

Virginia will elect a new governor this November, one of the first state-wide races in the post-Trump era.

Judging from the crowded field of seven Republican hopefuls vying for that seat, former President Donald Trump still looms large and could well determine the outcome.

Most have not disavowed the false narrative put out by Trump that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden because of voter fraud. Candidate Amanda Chase, one of the early favorites for the May 8 Republican nominating contest, has gone a step further. Following the ex-president’s November loss, she encouraged him in a Facebook post to impose martial law to cling to power. She cheered the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. capital on Jan. 6 as “patriots.”

It’s a playbook that could spell trouble for Republican hopes in Virginia, experts and pollsters say. The former battleground state in recent years has elected a Democratic governor, a Democratic-controlled state legislature and two Democratic U.S. senators, largely on the strength of college-educated, suburban voters.

Fealty to Trump is emerging as a litmus test for Republican hopefuls looking to appeal to the former president’s devoted base to win next month’s nominating battle. But conspiracy theories about election fraud are likely to turn off many moderate voters needed to win the Nov. 2 general election, said Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster.

“This is probably the most significant political conundrum I have ever seen,” said Luntz, who called Virginia a test case for the future of the Republican Party. [...]

Trump lost Virginia by 10 points in November, doubling his 5-point defeat in 2016 in large part because his scorched-earth politics repelled moderate, suburban and female voters. [...]

Pollster Luntz said the ascendance of Chase -- a twice-elected state senator who is leading the Republican field with nearly 20% support, two recent polls show -- spells particular danger for the party.

The Virginia state Senate censured Chase in January in a bipartisan vote over what it called her “conduct unbecoming of a Senator” including her “patriots” comment. The censure resolution also noted that Chase said Democratic state Senator Jennifer McClellan, who is Black and also running for governor, could not represent all Virginians because she helps lead the Black Caucus. [...]

Rich Anderson, chairman of the Republican Party in Virginia, declined to comment on Chase when asked if he had concerns about her ability to win a general election. [...]

After months of infighting over the methods of selecting their nominees for November, the state Republican Party’s governing board last month opted this year to replace its traditional primary election with a convention due to what it said were COVID-19 concerns. Voters will be able to cast ballots at 37 drive-up locations across the state. [...]

Chase had called for a statewide primary. She told Reuters she believed this year’s system had been rigged against her, because in a primary she would need just a plurality of votes to win.

John March, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, would not comment on her accusation. [...]

Other Republican hopefuls for governor have likewise put voter fraud at the forefront of their campaigns.

Glenn Youngkin, a former hedge fund executive, is calling for an “election integrity task force.” Businessman Pete Snyder is running an ad promising to “stop liberals from rigging the system.” [...]

The campaigns did not respond to questions asking if their candidate believed Biden was the legitimate winner of November’s election.

The one Republican candidate who has declared Biden the winner is Kirk Cox, the former Virginia House speaker who lost his majority in 2019 in large part due to Trump’s unpopularity in the suburbs.

Cox said he does not believe his stance will damage him in next month’s nominating fight, citing his long conservative record of defending gun rights and opposing abortion.

The ranked-choice system opens the door for candidates like Cox to win if they receive more second-choice votes than Chase.

But any Republican faces an uphill battle to win back the suburban voters who left the party on Trump’s watch, says Bob Holsworth, a non-partisan analyst of Virginia politics.

“There is a large hangover from the Trump era that is not going to be erased here in Virginia,” Holsworth said.