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Amanda Chase, Who Pushed Trump to Declare Martial Law, Loses GOP Nomination for Virginia Governor

Newsweek logo Newsweek 5/11/2021 Jenni Fink
a group of people that are standing in the street: Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase won the GOP's nomination for Virginia governor. Chase arrives at an open carry protest on July 4, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. © Eze Amos/Getty Images Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase won the GOP's nomination for Virginia governor. Chase arrives at an open carry protest on July 4, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia.

Virginia Republicans opted not to put their faith in Amanda Chase, a self-described "Trump in heels," to beat out Democrats for the governor's seat in November.

Chase, a state senator, made national headlines for accusing Democrats of "treason" in the 2020 election and advocating for former President Donald Trump to declare martial law to remain in power. She took issue with the decision to hold the Saturday convention instead of a primary election, and on Tuesday, she lost her bid for the GOP nomination for Virginia governor despite strong polling.

More than 50,000 people signed up as delegates, the largest political convention for a state in United States history, according to John Massoud, a town council member in Strasburg. It's also the first time delegates used a rank-choice voting method, where voters rank their candidates from first to last.

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of first-choice votes, they win outright. If not, a new counting process is used that redistributes votes as the losing candidates are eliminated.

Officials warned it could take days to count ballots, and Glenn Youngkin, former co-CEO of the investment firm The Carlyle Group, wasn't declared the official winner until Tuesday.

Chase held an early lead on her GOP challengers for the nomination, and in February she came out on top in a Christopher Newport University poll. The survey found she had 17 percent support among Republicans, 10 points ahead of Virginia delegate Kirk Cox, who had the second-highest level of support.

At the time, most Republicans, 55 percent, were still undecided, so it was still an open race. As the convention neared, Chase's hold on voters appeared to widen from her opponents. Of the limited polls conducted in the days leading up to the convention, Chase was the leader in two of the three, with 22 percent and 29 percent support, respectively.

However, in a poll that surveyed likely convention delegates, not just registered Republicans, Chase fell near the bottom of the pile. A poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group on behalf of Youngkin found Chase and Cox only had 10 percent support.

Youngkin had 38 percent, a double digit lead over Pete Snyder, an entrepreneur and marketing executive.

Voters also weren't sold that Chase could win the nomination. Despite being the favorite in a Change Research poll, when asked who they thought would win the convention, the plurality, 27 percent, picked Youngkin.

Virginia Republicans' pick for the nomination signals how the state party feels about the Trump brand's ability to continue to win elections, especially in blue states. Chase has been the most aggressive in taking on the Trump persona and won the endorsement of Roger Stone and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

In December, Chase applauded Trump's refusal to concede the election, writing in a Facebook post that Joe Biden wasn't her president and "never will be." She advocated for Trump to declare martial law to pave the way for the military to hold another election.

Facing criticism from Cox, she doubled down on 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 after she repeated Trump's claims of election fraud and attended the January 6 rally he held before a mob stormed the Capitol.

While Chase garnered endorsements from some staunch Trump supporters, she didn't win over all of Trump's allies. Both Ken Cuccinelli, Trump's pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, and Sarah Sanders, his former press secretary, endorsed Snyder, and Senator Ted Cruz threw his weight behind Youngkin.

Democrats have yet to choose their nominee, but it's likely Youngkin will run against former Governor Terry McAuliffe, considered the frontrunner. In a state that's growing increasingly blue, Republicans face an uphill battle putting one of their own in the governor's seat.

On Saturday, Chase tweeted that she still has "plenty of time" to run as an independent, so voters may still see her on the ballot.

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