The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Virginia Republican sues own party over nominating process for top office

A Republican state senator in Virginia who is mounting a campaign for governor has filed a lawsuit against her own party to prevent the GOP from using a nominating convention to select its candidates in this year’s races for governor and other statewide offices.

Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield), in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in circuit court in Richmond, argued that the Republican Party’s choice to hold a nominating convention — an in-person event in which only those delegates chosen by the party can participate — instead of a state-run primary would run afoul of pandemic-related decrees likely to still be in place that would prohibit such a large gathering.

Chase suggested on Twitter that the GOP’s leadership was plotting an end-run around voters in selecting its candidates this year for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

“They’ve chosen an illegal nomination method and have yet to remedy the situation,” Chase tweeted, referring to the GOP’s State Central Committee (SCC). “Unless something changes; the SCC not the people will chose [sic] our statewide candidates. We the People know best.”

A GOP spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Virginia GOP chooses convention over primary

Chase, a fiery populist who has styled herself after President Donald Trump, says in her lawsuit that the party’s governing body has met several times this year and last year and indicated its preference for holding a convention. But it also says the SCC has been unable to muster the necessary votes to alter the party’s rules for a convention, which would require thousands of GOP delegates to meet in person.

Given that the coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to be under control and government decrees are likely to remain in place before state-imposed deadlines, the lawsuit says the party appears to be on a course of choosing a convention it won’t be able to hold.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction against the Republican Party of Virginia and provide any other relief necessary but stops short of calling for a primary.

Sen. Amanda Chase is censured for praising U.S. Capitol rioters

Chase is one of several GOP contenders for the state’s top elected office. After the party voted in December to hold a convention, Chase warned she would run as an independent, but she later decided to return to running as a Republican.

Chase was formally censured by the state Senate last month after she referred to those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as “patriots.” She filed a federal lawsuit this month against the Senate over her censure.