With Chase Vs. Cox, The Field Looks Complete

Senator Amada Chase, R-Chesterfield

By Steve Haner

Give credit  where it is due: Chesterfield Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, had the wisdom and courage to reverse a bad decision. Virginia’s Republicans may be back in the game for 2021.

Both Senator Chase and Delegate Kirk Cox had expressed a preference for their party to choose a nominee for governor by holding a June primary, likely to draw several hundred thousand voters to make the choice. A week ago, party insiders in a smoke-filled Zoom chat made the bonehead decision to hold a convention, where fewer than 1 percent of those likely primary voters might participate.

The other 99.5 percent of the Virginians who probably would have liked to pick a GOP nominee – but not spend their money and time on a convention — were just told: You don’t matter, we don’t care what you think, those of us who live and breathe the insider game want to pick. But we sure hope you show up in November and help us then. Brilliant.

Chase’s immediate reaction was to announce she would simply gather petitions and get on the November ballot as an independent, although you could expect her to claim the title “independent Republican.” She saw and grabbed the high ground, claiming (correctly) that the GOP was once again behaving as insular, out of touch and disinterested in broadening its appeal.

The decision sparked a war within the GOP, with primary advocates even attacking State Central Committee members. Somehow, however, Chase realized that was not a path to victory for her, and in fact guaranteed the Governor’s Mansion to the Democrats. Who wants to be another Russ Potts? So now she is back in the hunt for convention delegates. 

Frankly, she has a solid chance to be the nominee in a convention process. She has claimed and will not lightly surrender the Trump mantle. She will have problems in November if she is atop the ticket, but she will run far better as the GOP nominee than as a third name at the end of the ballot.

Cox had a different response to the decision by the State Central Committee. He shrugged his shoulders and said he’d deal with it, then set about to rope in the endorsement of one of the possible convention rivals, former Senator William Carrico, Jr. of Grayson County.

Even better, he coupled the announcement with taking a position on an issue that appeals to a potential political base that can deliver for him both in a convention process and in November: Law enforcement and their families and supporters. Those folks might have been inclined to support Carrico, a former State Police officer.

Cox, the former Speaker and still senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, endorsed a $50 million plan to improve pay for state and local law enforcement. An October 2019 proposal for the Virginia State Police has not drawn the support of Governor Ralph Northam, who gets the first and last word on the state budget, so now Cox is their champion.

It also puts individual Democratic legislators in a quandary. They now have to wrestle with the fact that many in their base, right here in the Commonwealth, want local and state police to face reduced funding along with reduced authority and weakened liability protections. The bills have been introduced and in some cases the roll calls recorded, although some of the most radical proposals fell short.

Being on the wrong side of law enforcement almost cost Democrats the U.S. House of Representatives and may yet keep the U.S. Senate in Republican control. It is probably too late for Virginia Democrats to repair the damage, so they can only hope that something else is front-of-mind in October and November. It will remain a potent issue, now Cox’s issue.

The convention process requires less money than a primary would, with its major advertising costs, but it better tests a candidate’s organizational abilities. It also emphasizes the one political commodity that you cannot buy: Time. The key decisions will now be made in more than 100 different locations in March and April, not at the polls in June. Those candidates not yet building a statewide network and staff to gather delegates are now hopelessly behind.

This is why those previously-mentioned party insiders love this convention process – they actually play a key role in recruiting friends and neighbors to become delegates and then coming to meetings. Any Northern Virginia business executive, or even a senior and well-respected senior legislator, still on the sidelines cannot compete without a statewide network at the grassroots.

Twenty-eight years ago, a Northern Virginia business executive named Earle Williams made an outsider run for a convention nomination. By the end of 1992 he’d been at it more than six months. The staff were well into developing a major set of policy positions and were deep into building local organizations to compete with George Allen and Clint Miller for convention delegates. Despite Earle’s wealth and the year-long effort, Allen won the 1993 nomination, delivered by the activists.

Those who are now still considering a late entry to a GOP convention process have simply run out of time.

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41 responses to “With Chase Vs. Cox, The Field Looks Complete

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Mr. Haner how does one participate in the convention? I have an idea of how it worked for the convention to pick Bob Good in the 5th District. But what about this Republican Convention? I want to be there.

    • Each local unit will have an application, probably with a filing fee, to be a delegate. Then there will be a process, probably a mass meeting, to elect delegates from among those who apply. If the teams are playing nice, all potential delegates will be approved. If they are playing hardball, slates dedicated to one or the other might be elected and others excluded. That creates major hard feelings.

      At the statewide level, each city or county unit will be allocated a certain number of votes, and those will be apportioned among those who actually show up at the convention (or the drive in votes, or whatever other nonsense they come up with.)

      Bottom line, you really need to be plugged in to the local unit or somebody on it or you may never know when the applications are being circulated. It is very much an insider’s game. If you like one of the candidates, get on their supporter list and they will help you get the paperwork. As I said, it is an organizational test.

    • I really hope you are successful in becoming a delegate. Do keep us updated as you go through the process.

      In my assessment, we need two things in a potential candidate for Governor. I wouldn’t discount the importance of either. The first is broad support which will help in the general election. The other is support from the Republican Party in Virginia and nationally.

      Others on this forum such as Mr. Haner may have more inside information, but I think Ken Cuccinelli suffered from lack of enthusiastic support from the Republican play makers in Virginia and nationally. Unfortunately, they matter in terms of access to the party machinery, and funds.

      • re: ” we need two things in a potential candidate for Governor. I wouldn’t discount the importance of either. The first is broad support which will help in the general election. The other is support from the Republican Party in Virginia and nationally.”

        I say this respectfully but these seem mutually opposing unless your idea of “broad support” is from the GOP base and hoping the Dems don’t show up to vote?

        Here’s my challenge back at you – ” What GOP candidate in Virginia could win his/her share of votes in NoVa and other urban areas to add to their rural base so they win?

        My impression is that the GOP is controlled by far right folks these days who really have little to offer to Dems who might vote for a moderate, center-right GOP.

        If, as a candidate, you don’t appeal to the two million people who live in NoVa, you really have to clear the table in RoVa.

        • I’ve admitted in my post that I’m not very knowledgeable about the Republican Party machine in Virginia and that others would have a more informed take.

          Put another way, for success in either party one needs a viable candidate, a good ground game and funding.

          As I recall, Ken Cuccinelli got the nomination for governor, but made too many enemies in doing so to win.

          “Bill Bolling refuses to back Ken Cuccinelli after exiting Virginia governor’s race”

          https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bill-bolling-refuses-to-back-ken-cuccinelli-after-exiting-virginia-governors-race

          I may be wrong, but I think Chase has already burned some bridges within the party in ways that would hurt her later on if she got the nomination. Just my take.

          “Chase’s immediate reaction was to announce she would simply gather petitions and get on the November ballot as an independent”

          • I would defer to Steve for knowledge of the GOP in Virginia but many longer term residents of Virginia who observe elections in Virginia can tell you than NoVa plays a significant role because of it’s concentration of voters and it is joined by many urbanized areas in Virginia and of late suburbs like Henrico and Chesterfied. Rural RoVa is, like a lot of states, deep red and has not shifted left as urbanized Va has and is doing.

            So Chase can very probably count on rural Va (she’s big on 2A) whereas Cox may be perceived as to her left and too inclined to compromise and (I think) not a hard-core Trumpster.

            Truly moderate GOP have some potential to win votes in NoVa and urbanized Virginia – depending….. and they don’t need to win a majority – just get more than traditional GOP would get – as long as they get Rural RoVa and that’s where Chase and Cox will be really vying for the votes. Chase has zero chance in NoVa and urbanized Va.

    • JWW- You can find your local unit here.

  2. I’m looking at how many Trump voters there are in Virginia, especially rural Virginia and where Cox would go to try to find enough “other” GOP voters…. and I wonder if he can get elected without some Dem votes if Chase scoops up the Trumpsters.

  3. No Democrat would ever vote for either of these two regressives.

  4. Here we go again. Republicans just can’t shake their love for what’s left of the Byrd Machine. Yes, the Byrd Machine was Democrats but those Democrats constitute most of today’s Republican Party in Virginia and some of the Democratic Party in Virginia. Needless to say, they prefer conventions to primaries.

    And who are the leading contenders for Byrd Fest 2021? Donald Trump in drag and what appears to be another member of the plantation elite. I’ll try to keep an open mind on Kirk Cox but if the plantation elite has a modern capital it is Colonial Heights. Unfortunately, he failed his first test by shrugging his shoulders at the choice of an anti-democratic convention. I guess the DNA of Harry Byrd runs deep in those who hail from in and around Richmond.

    I don’t vote for many Democratic candidates but I might have to do just that if one of these two is the Republican candidate.

    Where is Pete Snyder when we need him?

    • Good question. I’m serious about time slipping away for anybody else. I didn’t know you were familiar with Colonial Heights. 🙂

      • Lol. Yes, I am familiar with Colonial Heights. As for Republicans in Virginia and their love of conventions … they remind me of the Washington Redskins in 2019. A failed team with a consistently losing record over the last 20 years that had the same coach, general manager, playbook and name for years. Then they changed. New name, new coach, new defensive coordinator, new playbook. Guess what? They won their fourth game in a row yesterday. Defeated the previously unbeaten Pittsburg Steelers the week before.

        Funny what happens when you acknowledge your failures and make changes.

        Convention-itis is just one failure of the Republicans in Virginia but it is a big one.

        • Water over the dam. Republicans need to get through this and pick the strongest possible candidate. It’s a uphill battle no matter what. And BTW the Byrd Machine was all about the primary and then “the nod”. But I wouldn’t want the facts to confuse your biases, bro….

          • The Byrd Machine was all about insiders quietly controlling the state. Oh, and racism, segregation, etc. If the tools of the day were primaries and then “the nod” I don’t see the difference between that and a ridiculous convention of select attendees that, by your own writing, forces out qualified candidates who can’t herd enough insiders into the convention. Different times, different tools, same philosophy.

            Unfortunately for the remnants of the Byrd Machine still trying to operate in Virginia – the state has moved on. The remnants can have their silly convention and then they can spend the next four years complaining about Governor Foy.

    • It seems that anyone who was born or raised outside of NoVa is part of the “plantation elite” as far as DJ is concerned.

      • No. First, you have to be white and almost always a man. Christian too I assume. The plantation elite has no vacancies for black, Hispanic or Asian people. Or women. Or Jews or maybe even Catholics. Basically the same entrance criteria as the klan. Then, you have to be born in the Southside, Eastern or Richmond areas of the state. Not from the Valley, Southwest, Northern, Hampton Roads and Central regions. And don’t waste your time telling me Byrd himself was born in Martinsburg, WV and raised in Winchester. He was the founder. He built his cadre of followers where he found a like minded audience.

        After being white, male and raised in the right part of the state you have to be or become politically powerful, usually through nefarious means. That means playing the game in smoke filled rooms. Out of public sight. Using opaque processes to get what you want. Big money donations either given or received. Slippery eel kind of stuff.

        Is Kirk Cox “one of them”? Well, he’s a white man from the right region. He’s politically powerful. Let’s look at the donations he’s received (note: he ran unopposed for 6 of the 8 last elections). Wow, could he have received over $10m dollars in campaign contributions over the years? Seriously? 10m?

        https://www.vpap.org/candidates/5631/donors_sector_totals/

        Oh look – all the regulars – Dominion, The Virginia Shelter Group (nursing home operator I think), Altria, the bankers, the beer distributors, the auto dealers. Pretty much anybody the GA might regulate.

        Like I said in my original comment, “I’ll try to keep an open mind on Kirk Cox …”. But if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck …

        Now take a look at Jennifer Carroll Foy’s vpap accounting. Where’s Dominion? Where’s Altria? Where’s the beer distributors or auto dealers?

  5. Can anyone see either Cox or Chase actually winning in November? Can either evolve into a non polarizing politician who unites rather than name calling and spewing nonsense? Which candidate provides the left with the least amount of front page “news”?

    • The voters of Virginia need to be asked directly if the hard left turn taken by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 is the direction they want. And it has to be about pocketbook issues, not social issues. Example: the many tax increases and the energy price increases baked into the VCEA, plus the tax increase on motor fuels that comes with the TCI. If the pandemic lifts in time for the business groups to do their “best in business” rankings again, Virginia is likely to plummet. Looking over the field I hope the Dems do run TMac, but that is their decision to make.

      As of today, Chase is the one who has a history of public comments and posts that the other side and the media will seek to exploit. She’s had issues with her own team in the Senate. Cox has the nice guy, neighbor-you’d-like-to-have, image, but exciting is not a word that comes to mind. The word I’d like to see come to mind by October is “competent.”

      ““Bill Bolling refuses to back Ken Cuccinelli after exiting Virginia governor’s race” Yes, Nathan, that and similar variations over the years have doomed previous GOP efforts. If it happens again in ’21, the Dems win again.

      • I know the leftist socialist boogeyman plays well in RoVa but it won’t in NoVa and I don’t think that message will gain voters in NoVa. What will gain voters is what Cox says he will do for their interests that the Dems haven’t done. The question is does Cox KNOW what NoVa voters want?

        • If the state is seen swirling in the toilet, people in Northern Virginia just might care, Larry. As to what Northern Virginians want, seems to be the same as others…..M O N E Y. They always complain here on the blog that they pay too much tax for too little payback. Gee, I hear that everywhere. Obviously no Republican can win in November without improving on recent results in that part of the state. It can be done. Nobody is asking or paying me to figure out the strategy. I know at least a couple of people from that part of the state are running for LG nominations.

          • Geeze. You got folks who want the Medicaid Expansion, pre-K, METRO, commuter rail, better wages and more affordable housing, and they probably support BLM and believe there is still racism in Virginia….

            I still think using socialism boogeyman is appealing more to GOP supporters than voters who tend to vote blue anyhow.

            Some apparently keep hoping that urbanized dwellers will “swing right” and see the error of “far-left”.

            I think this is some sort of drangement syndrome myself.

            ( I’m not supporting far left policies per se – just saying I
            understand “blue” voters more/better than wishful thinking GOP folks.

            It’s not what “socialist” policies NoVa voters oppose.. That’s CLEARLY a right viewpoint/perspective!

            I’m trying to think what exactly the GA has done that NoVa would think has “gone too far left”.

            educate me!

      • As for tax increases, Steve, don’t forget the $250 million per year increase from “conformity” on state vs federal income taxes. Very few people now itemize deductions on federal taxes, and with conformity, also don’t itemize on Virginia state taxes. The state pocketed that $250 million windfall.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Mr. Haner the easy pass lane to victory for Cox and Chase is education. Plenty of material here to campaign on. Families are upset, locked down with their kids, and bewildered by progressive policies. Families have plenty of questions and frustrations but they don’t have the answers so a carefully crafted education policy will get the attention of voters inside and outside the suburbs.

    • Not a chance.

    • Only if the Biden Administration starts off as a fiasco. 2017 and 2019 were reactions to Trump. 2021 will be a reaction to Biden (or no reaction). While some people vote Virginia issues many others either stay home or follow the party line the same way they vote in the national (even year) elections. If Biden doesn’t enrage the Republican base in Virginia I’m not sure either can win.

      Chase is a proven headline generator. And not usually in a good way.

  6. Some miscellaneous comments:
    1. Russ Potts? I haven’t heard that name in awhile. He was an interesting character and legislator–hard to predict. I’m surprised no one has asked you about that reference.
    2. You are right about the Republicans needing to fight the election on pocketbook issues. The problem for them is that most of the “hidden taxes” you list are too hidden and not apparent to the average voter.
    3. I would not be surprised if Chase runs as an independent if she does not get the convention nomination.
    4. For Don, the Republicans decided to dump the convention and go with a primary in 2017 and 2018. Results: a moderate gubernatorial candidate (Gillepsie) in 2017 who lost and a far-right Senatorial candidate in 2018 (Stewart) who lost.

    • The problem with a convention vs a primary is that the conventions seem to produce rather conventional candidates. Amanda Chase or Kirk Cox? I’m yawning. At least Gillespie was novel. Turnout in 2017 was about 6% higher than usual for a governor’s race in Virginia (with those off year elections). Northam won by about 9%. I think it would have been a closer race without the Trump factor but Northam would have won anyway.

      The only way a Republican would have beaten Northam in 2017 would have been for those yearbook pictures to have come out before the election.

      Interesting column today by the always insightful Norm Leahy ….

      https://bearingdrift.com/2020/12/14/terry-mcauliffe-has-one-question-to-answer-why/

    • I agree. A primary gave Republicans a lobbyist in 2017 and a nut in 2018. That method hasn’t exactly been helpful in the recent past.

      One never knows, but I am expecting:
      McAuliffe 53%
      Cox 45%
      Others 2%

      Kirk’s a nice guy, but he isn’t winning a statewide race. Sorry, but you’ve got to have some sort of charisma/spunk when you’re the minority party trying to win a statewide race. Kirk is a lot of things, but not even his closest allies would describe him as “charismatic.” And if the GOP truly lost its marbles and nominated Chase?

      McAuliffe 62%
      Chase 36%
      Others 2%

      In the end, we will have Governor McAuliffe.

  7. If the Republicans want to win, they’ll need to call out the Democrats on K-12 education and healthcare reform. To make the healthcare reform case, the candidates would have to know more than they do now about the state’s most complex issue. So let’s put that one aside for the moment.

    Education is way more straightforward. Democratic politicians have been power mad and ignorant during the epidemic. The Democrats closed the schools to placate their union supporters when the scientific evidence never supported that decision.

    Now the kids are scarred badly, many possibly permanently, especially poor kids. That message will win, even in Northern Virginia.

    If Republican candidates fail to make that case every day, they deserve to lose. As an agenda, each should run to:
    – open the schools for in-person instruction immediately;
    – raise teacher pay 10% but also fire any teacher who fails to report without a medical excuse;
    – eliminate any “training” program that accuses white teachers of inherent racism;
    – reduce school district and VDOE administrative staff to help pay for the expenses;
    – promote public charter school law changes (there are model bills) to make it easier to establish and sustain them to improve education for poor kids;
    – fund extended school years until the education deficits are made up, with voluntary no-fault repeats of grades for high schoolers;
    – examine the budget to pay for the education plus ups with reductions elsewhere and ensuring that money, like the lottery and casinos, that was promised for education actually goes for education; and
    – raise taxes at the state level where necessary to pay for teacher pay raises with a tax increase that is not fungible – dedicated funding for the teacher pay raises that cannot be used for any other purpose.

    • I dunno. I don’t think GOP talking points will win votes in NoVa… or other blue-voting areas.

      The GOP wants to tell folks how things ought to be in their view.

      That won’t work in NoVa – you have to want to know what their interests really are not the “outrage” on the right.

      • The Dems are losing the Asian-American vote in NoVa (which is significant) and they are starting to see support in the Hispanic community erode too.

        In Fairfax County it’s white – 63%, black 9%, Asian – 17.5% and Hispanic (of any race) – 15.5%.

        I doubt any Republican gubernatorial candidate will carry NoVa in 2021 but they sure could eat into the Democratic majority.

  8. Please remember that past performance may no longer be indicative of future results. Different RPV candidates involve varying degrees of Trumpism, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific candidate or campaign strategy made reference to directly or indirectly in this opinion by Mr. Haner, will run, be nominated, or be expected to equal any corresponding indicated historical performance.

    Due to various factors, including the actions of the national party, the candidate may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this opinion by Mr. Haner is reflective of the RPV given current levels of GOP insanity.

    To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue or possible candidate discussed above to his/her individual voting situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the Trump Tweet of his/her choosing.

    • “he/she” …
      “his/her” …

      You are obviously in need of substantial reeducation. I’ll submit your application for a space in one of the first reeducation camps to open under the Biden Administration.

  9. “The other 99.5 percent of the Virginians who probably would have liked to pick a GOP nominee… …were just told: You don’t matter, we don’t care what you think, those of us who live and breathe the insider game want to pick.”

    So business as usual, then…

    • I find it disheartening that I left a state where my vote for all intents and purposes didn’t matter to come to a state where it is much the same.

      In PA Philly made all of the calls and in VA, NOVA does.

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