The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Republican candidate for governor says Chauvin verdict makes her ‘sick’

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), a candidate for governor, says the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s killing made her “sick.”
Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), a candidate for governor, says the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s killing made her “sick.” (Steve Helber/AP)

RICHMOND — A prominent Republican candidate for Virginia governor said that the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin this week made her "sick" and that jurors didn't acquit because they feared a violent backlash.

“Friends, today’s verdict makes me sick,” state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield) told a gathering in King William County on Tuesday shortly after a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. “I am so concerned about our law enforcement right now quitting. And you should be, too.”

Her comments, captured in a video Chase posted to Facebook, drew rebukes from state and national Democratic groups. American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal super PAC, circulated video of Chase’s remarks on Twitter, drawing about 150,000 views.

On April 20 the jury found Chauvin guilty of second and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd. (Video: The Washington Post)

Before noon Wednesday, at least one of the five Democrats running for governor was trying to raise money off Chase’s remarks.

“Virginia left Amanda Chase’s bigoted ideas in the 20th century,” state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) said in a fundraising appeal that accused Chase of espousing “blatantly racist ideas.”

But Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels” who prides herself on provocative statements, stood by her remarks.

Republican contender for Va. governor says Trump should declare martial law

“I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” she later said in a written statement. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back.”

With those remarks, Chase has lined up well to the right of some of her party’s most conservative leaders, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). A Trump loyalist, Jordan would not say explicitly whether he agreed with the verdict but told CNN: “The justice system works. I said last summer that what happened to George Floyd was as wrong as wrong can be, and the justice system will work and that’s what we saw happened.”

Chauvin, a White police officer, took Floyd, who was Black, into custody last May. Handcuffed and face down on the pavement, Floyd died when Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. The killing sparked protests over racial injustice nationwide.

Chase’s stance puts her in the company of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who have likewise suggested that jurors convicted Chauvin because they feared an acquittal would lead to unrest.

Tucker Carlson says protests intimidated Derek Chauvin jury into guilty verdict: ‘Please don’t hurt us’

“Amanda Chase’s comments are racist and dangerous, but they are also clearly representative of the beliefs of many Republicans,” said Manuel Bonder, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “It’s incumbent upon the other candidates to condemn these comments in no uncertain terms. Anything less is a de facto agreement, and proves there is no daylight between them.”

Chase is one of seven Republicans seeking that party’s gubernatorial nomination in a May 8 convention. Five Democrats are competing in their party’s June 8 primary.

All five Democratic candidates were quick to applaud the Chauvin verdict, as was third-party candidate Princess Blanding, whose brother, Marcus-David Peters, was killed by Richmond police while he was experiencing a mental health crisis in 2018.

Va. Republicans pick convention over primary to navigate Trumpism in 2021 governor’s race

Chase was the only Republican gubernatorial candidate to volunteer a statement on the verdict. When asked to comment on the verdict, only two of the other six Republicans responded to inquiries from The Washington Post and other news outlets.

“Officer Chauvin was afforded due process and convicted today by an impartial jury,” Del. Kirk Cox (Chesterfield), a former state House speaker and retired teacher, said in a statement Tuesday. “For me, that is a clear result of our judicial process, and it’s important to not only respect that outcome, but to defend it as the rightful result in a society that should value the rule of law.”

Glenn Youngkin, a former Carlyle Group executive, also issued a statement: “Our prayers are with the Floyd family, the Chauvin family, and our entire American family at this time. It is our hope that Mr. Floyd’s family finds peace in this verdict right now, at what is no doubt another agonizing moment in their lives. As governor I will uphold the foundations of our civil society, preserve the right to a fair trial, and ensure equal treatment under the law.”

The Democratic Party of Virginia highlighted Chase’s remarks on Twitter in a bid to pressure the six other Republicans to weigh in on her take, writing: “Will any Virginia Republican condemn this despicable racism?”

None of the six GOP gubernatorial candidates responded to requests for comment from The Post about Chase’s remarks. In addition to Cox and Youngkin, the other Republicans are retired Army Col. Sergio de la Peña, former think-tank executive Peter Doran, businessman Pete Snyder and former Roanoke sheriff Octavia Johnson.

Along with McClellan, the Democratic contenders are former delegate Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (Prince William), Del. Lee J. Carter (Manassas), Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and former governor Terry McAuliffe.

All are running to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is barred by the state constitution from seeking back-to-back terms.

Virginia governor’s race will test GOP identity, Democratic leadership before midterms