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A messy Republican nominating process (sort of) ends in Virginia

The Virginia Republicans' process has been a mess for months, and while there's a new GOP gubernatorial nominee, I'm not altogether sure whether it's over.


Arguably no state has changed more over the last 15 years than Virginia, where Republicans haven't won a statewide election since 2009. As we've discussed, Democrats now control the governor's office, the lieutenant governor's office, the attorney general's office, the state legislature, and most of the congressional delegation.

At the presidential level, the Democrats' national ticket has won four of the last four elections -- with President Joe Biden nearly winning the commonwealth by double digits last fall.

Clearly, the Republican Party of Virginia has some work to do if it's going to help make the state competitive again, and with elections slated for this fall -- Virginia is one of only a couple of states that will hold statewide races in 2021 -- the GOP at least has a chance to make gains.

Those efforts can begin in earnest now that the party has a new gubernatorial nominee.

Virginia Republicans selected former private equity executive Glenn Youngkin as their nominee in this year's governor's election, in which he will face whomever Democrats nominate in their own primary next month.... Youngkin, 54, retired as co-CEO of the private equity giant Carlyle Group last year and turned his focus to politics. His wealth helped seed his bid for the GOP nomination. He lent himself $5.5 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to the most recently available campaign finance disclosures.

Youngkin prevailed over several Republican rivals as part of an amazingly messy process. NBC News' report added, "Seven candidates competed in an unusual and controversial 'unassembled convention' Saturday, when 28,000 Republican voters and activists cast weighted and ranked-choice ballots at dozens of locations across the state after the party opted against a standard primary."

At the national level, Youngkin is a bit of an unknown, but in the runup to the commonwealth's strange GOP nominating process, the new nominee forged an alliance with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), touted his support for Donald Trump, and when asked recently about the far-right's bizarre conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines, Youngkin described the ridiculous ideas as "the most important issue" of the campaign.

In fact, a Washington Post editorial noted two weeks ago, Youngkin plan for a "task force" to tackle "election integrity" is "the only detailed policy proposal he has put forward."

When it comes to evaluating his preparedness to govern, none of this is a good sign.

That said, it was apparently enough since Youngkin secured his party gubernatorial nomination last night. He'll await the winner of a Democratic primary, scheduled for June 8. For now, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) appears to be the favorite, but there are several credible Democratic contenders.

There is, however, one lingering question about how Virginia Republicans will proceed: What are state Sen. Amanda Chase's (R) plans?

If you're unfamiliar with Chase, she's pitched herself as "Trump in heels," which is a label she's earned. (Chase, among other things, praised Jan. 6 rioters as "patriots.")

As the vote tallies came in last night, the right-wing state senator finished third in the GOP race, to the relief of some Virginia Republicans who saw her as unelectable in a general election. But it's not entirely clear whether Chase will quietly step aside.

In a recent message to supporters, Chase argued that the GOP's process was not to be accepted at face value. "DO NOT TRUST THE PARTY TO DELIVER ACCURATE RESULTS," she wrote in a fundraising email to supporters. "Who should you go to for the proper results? Me and my campaign! My campaign will be monitoring the voting and data entry on election night. If they are accurate, we will tell you. If they are not, I will be prepared to sue in court to force a public count."

Chase has also hedged on whether she might run a third-party gubernatorial candidacy if she were unsatisfied with the results.

The Virginia Republicans' process has been a mess for months, and as of this morning, I'm not altogether sure whether it's over.