“My career has been about building businesses, creating new industries, making dreams become reality — all while disrupting the status quo,” Snyder says in the video. “We’ve had eight years of failed leadership by Northam, McAuliffe and the rest of the career politicians. It’s clear we need change.”
Snyder makes no explicit reference to his rivals for the GOP nomination: Del. Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), a former speaker of the House of Delegates; state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield); and Sergio de la Peña, a retired Army colonel.
A fifth Republican, former Carlyle Group executive Glenn Youngkin, has filed paperwork to establish a campaign and indicated he will formally announce his bid soon.
Republicans plan to pick their nominee May 1 at a party-run convention.
Democrats will choose theirs in a June 8 primary. In addition to McAuliffe, the Democratic contenders are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (Richmond), former delegate Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (Prince William) and Del. Lee J. Carter (Manassas).
Snyder has never held elective office.
He sought the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2013, losing to Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson in a convention. Jackson went on to lose the general election to Northam, who won the governorship four years later. Northam cannot run for reelection this year because Virginia bans its governors from serving back-to-back terms.
Snyder’s 2013 campaign stood out in a crowded field of seven candidates for its flashes of humor. Along with his more serious credentials, he played up his distinction as a “World Championship-certified BBQ judge.”
Snyder grew up in Lancaster County, Pa., and lived for about 20 years in Fairfax County before moving to Charlottesville about 18 months ago with his wife and now-6-year-old daughter.
A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Snyder in the late 1990s came up with what was then a pioneering marketing strategy: engaging consumers directly on social media. The staff at his New Media Strategies (NMS) worked online to “create buzz” and do “damage control” on behalf of a wide range of clients, according to a Washington Post profile of the Arlington-based firm in 2008, a year after Snyder sold his interest for $30 million to Meredith Corporation.
“NMS workers troll blogs that are talking about its clients, including [Syfy] Channel to the Walt Disney Co. to Pepsi — and sometimes knocking them,” The Post reported then. “When Burger King recalled 25 million Pokemon toys because they were dangerous, NMS employees dug into chat rooms and blogs to tell the Burger King story. They identify themselves as working for their clients.”
Snyder described the niche then as “influencing the influencers.”
Snyder later became chief executive of Disruptor Capital, a capital investment firm focused on “funding and growing disruptive technologies, ideas and entrepreneurs,” according to its website.
He also has worked as a paid part-time political and business commentator on Fox News.
In April, as the coronavirus pandemic was forcing business shutdowns across Virginia, Snyder and his wife, Burson, created a nonprofit intended to help small businesses weather the crisis. The Virginia 30 Day Fund raised more than $4 million and was on track to help 1,000 small businesses when the Snyders handed off day-to-day management early this month to Jim Cheng, former state secretary of commerce and trade, in preparation for his run.