In Virginia this year, the Republican primary for governor has attracted significant attention due to the disastrous convention and a great deal of brutally divisive GOP infighting. The candidates have repeatedly attacked each other and party leadership amid widespread allegations of corruption and rigging in the convention process.
One thing, however, has unified all of the candidates: a complete allegiance to Donald Trump and his toxic, far-right brand of politics. This primary has demonstrated that when it comes to Trumpism, there is no daylight between the extreme candidates in this GOP field. As a result, regardless of who prevails on Saturday, Donald Trump’s extremism will be on the ballot this November.
The bottom line is that whoever is crowned at the end of this week’s convention will be so beholden to Donald Trump — so dramatically out of step with Virginia values — that voters will learn one thing from day one: the Republican nominee is too extreme for Virginia.
As the primary comes to a close, it is also clear that whoever the Republican nominee for governor is will be forced to continue in this extreme direction during the general election. As The Washington Post Editorial Board recently wrote, “Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidates just can’t quit Trump.” The board continued, stating clearly that:
“Bigotry, divisiveness and extremist policies have contributed to the GOP’s losing streak in Virginia. As the state grows more diverse, it has shifted to the political center. Yet as this year’s field of gubernatorial candidates demonstrates, many in the party remain entrenched on the fringe.”
This is the dynamic that whoever emerges from this week’s disastrous convention will face. As we prepare for another week or more of chaos, uncertainty, and GOP infighting, here’s a closer look at each of the potential nominees and how they won’t be able to escape their strong support for Trump and his harmful policies.
Kirk Cox is a hardline, Trump-supporting 30+ year career politician whose track record is that of a hyper-partisan extremist. Before Donald Trump said that women should be punished for having abortions, Kirk Cox voted to make it a felony. Before Donald Trump gutted critical environmental protections, Kirk Cox voted to help polluters dump toxins in our air and water. Before Donald Trump led the racist charge to build a wall, Kirk Cox voted to let businesses discriminate against immigrants.
Cox’s voting record has been classified as “not that different” from Amanda “Trump in Heels” Chase’s. Just this year, Cox continued to put himself far to the right of a majority of Virginians while voting against a litany of crucial policies to move Virginia forward in the face of this devastating pandemic. In this year’s General Assembly, Cox voted:
- Against marriage equality — which he calls a “matter of conscience”
- Against abolishing the death penalty
- Against the landmark Virginia Voting Rights Act
- Against restoring felons’ voting rights once their sentences are completed
- Against legalizing marijuana for people 21 and older
- Against providing paid sick leave to essential workers.
- Against banning the "LGBTQ panic" defense
- Against removing the ban on insurance plans from covering abortion
- Against a budget that provides pay raises to teachers and police officers, invests in rural broadband, and dedicates millions of dollars to help schools reopen safely
Along with his very long far-right track record of opposing voting rights, in this campaign, Kirk Cox has gone deep into Trump’s election conspiracies. Cox has advanced outlandish rhetoric about our elections and pandered to the dangerous idea that the 2020 election was rigged.
Demonstrating his extremism, Cox said that he wants Virginia to “go further” than Georgia’s voter suppression law. Then, after being condemned for it by the Virginia NAACP, Cox doubled down on his extreme support for Georgia’s law. In a show of his fundamentally draconian support for voter suppression, Cox has stated that as governor, he would fund an “election integrity operation” to crack down on “tough precincts” — whatever that means.
As put by The Washington Post Editorial Board, Cox’s Trumpian turn is “jarring.” If Kirk Cox manages to “win” Saturday’s rigged convention, Virginians will get to know him for the far-right extremist he truly is.
Throughout this primary campaign, Glenn Youngkin has been a very weak, unsteady candidate — which is unsurprising for an extremely wealthy insider who parachuted into Republican politics convinced he deserves to be governor. Youngkin has been faced with relentless attacks from his right flank from the moment he entered the race. As a result, Youngkin has aligned himself completely with Donald Trump in order to try and win over GOP activists who view him skeptically at best.
To earn the support of the Virginia GOP faithful, Youngkin has gone all in on Donald Trump’s most despicable, deranged election conspiracy theories. Glenn Youngkin opened his campaign with a ridiculous “election integrity task force” inspired by the baseless claim that the election was stolen from Trump. To this day, the former Carlyle Group co-CEO still declines to state that Joe Biden is the legitimately elected President of the United States.
Unfortunately, Glenn Youngkin’s far-right extremism does not end with his despicable support for the unhinged conspiracy theories that led to the January 6th insurrection. During this desperate primary campaign, Youngkin has stooped to reprehensible lows — even espousing detestable anti-LGBTQ bigotry at campaign events.
In his pathetic capitulation to the worst elements of today’s GOP, Youngkin has steadfastly opposed critical relief for Virginia’s working families and small businesses struggling in the face of this devastating pandemic. In a demonstration of his extreme partisanship, Youngkin has also attacked the Biden administration’s proposal to invest in America, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, and help create millions of good jobs to strengthen the economy.
Throughout this campaign, Glenn Youngkin has made clear that he will always put himself, his wealthy friends, and his Republican allies in DC before Virginia solutions. Glenn Youngkin doesn’t care about Virginia and he will not lead the way out of this crisis — he’s more focused on his relationship with Donald Trump.
If this weak, unsteady candidate wins the GOP convention, he will spend every single day after his coronation explaining his extreme support for Donald Trump and the former president’s deranged conspiracy theories — as well as his hardline opposition to helping Virginians out of this pandemic.
Pete Snyder is a complete and total Donald Trump acolyte. On his first day in the race, Pete Snyder said that he “absolutely” supports Donald Trump and “the America First agenda.” Snyder also says that he thinks “Donald Trump's policies were phenomenal” and that he wants “to make sure that we have ‘America First’ policies in Virginia.”
Snyder has incessantly peddled Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election — even launching a so-called “election integrity plan” at the start of his campaign. Pete Snyder has falsely said that “election integrity” “is cultural for Republicans” because “we play by the rules” and “other people don’t.” He has put Ken Cuccinelli in charge of “overseeing and taking on all of those ballot integrity measures” for his campaign and even called for politically motivated “scouting reports” on local election officials. Pete Snyder also outspokenly opposed the American Rescue Plan — calling it “absolutely insane” to help struggling Virginians get through the pandemic.
Pete Snyder has made abhorrent bigoted comments — for which he was resoundingly condemned by LGBTQ leaders in Virginia. Snyder’s extremist campaign has repeatedly elevated anti-LGBTQ voices — such as his prized endorsers E.W. Jackson and Bob Good. In a testament to his complete commitment to this disgusting position, Snyder’s campaign has vigorously defended his alliance with the fanatical bigot E.W. Jackson. As if that weren’t enough, Pete Snyder has vociferously defended monuments to confederate leaders — who he suggested were “good people [who did] bad things.”
As was reported by The Washington Post, Pete Snyder has spent this campaign working ruthlessly behind closed doors to rig the GOP primary for himself. Even as he spent months lying and downplaying his involvement in the process, Snyder and his team of paid political insiders were working aggressively to ensure Republicans chose a convention over a primary. From paying off Republican State Central Committee members to blocking other candidates’ delegates from participating, Snyder and his friends have gone to extreme lengths to rig the nomination process in his favor.
According to a rival campaign, there has been a concerted effort against Snyder unfolding as this chaotic GOP primary comes to an end:
“This is the start of an anybody but Pete movement,” the staffer said. “This is palpable anger toward him from every campaign. They’re just lying about everything.”
This dynamic will be completely insurmountable for Pete Snyder if his ploy to rig the convention is successful. If Snyder is the Republican nominee, he will have left a destroyed party behind him to get there — and he will be facing Amanda Chase’s threat to run as an independent. As he works to repair this damage, he will also be faced with relentless questions about his complete allegiance to Donald Trump and his support for extreme positions that are woefully out of touch with Virginians’ values.
Amanda Chase would be hands down the most extreme governor in all of America. Throughout this primary, Chase has become the face of the Virginia GOP through her ceaseless attempts to imitate Donald Trump. Chase has grabbed headlines nationwide as she refers to herself as “Trump in Heels” and espouses the most alienating, fringe-right views Virginia has seen in generations.
Chase has shown herself to be one of the most extreme Republicans anywhere in the country. She has advanced despicable racist views — and been forcefully condemned for doing so. She has parroted the deranged conspiracy theories that threaten American democracy. She has advocated dangerous anti-vaccine views that threaten American lives in the face of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps most importantly, Chase has done all of this with impunity, as all of her fellow Republicans have shown themselves to be too cowardly to speak up or condemn her about any of it.
Chase has also done everything possible to destroy the Republican Party of Virginia in the process. She has sued the party over this rigged primary process; she has attacked her competitors as “weak-kneed Republicans”; and she has repeatedly threatened to run as an independent if she is not the nominee.
Whatever happens on Saturday, Amanda Chase will remain a critical X-factor in the Republican Party of Virginia. Chase’s unhinged, dangerous, alienating extremism has become the face of the Virginia GOP — and if she is not the nominee, the GOP standard-bearer will be forced to beg for her support.
No matter what happens on Saturday, the Virginia GOP’s incessant capitulation to the extreme right will continue — and whoever becomes the nominee will be completely beholden to Trumpism and the Republican Party’s toxic fringe. Every single one of these candidates is too extreme for Virginia, and whoever it is will be forced to continue sprinting to the far right.
We’ll see you after the convention.