Reached by phone, Chase and her strategist, Philip Search, declined to elaborate.
After winning a second Senate term last year, Chase, 50, said she planned to run for governor in 2025.
But she has decided not to wait, according to conservative radio host John Fredericks, who said Chase told him she plans to run for governor in November 2021.
“She told me five minutes ago,” Fredericks, who was Trump’s 2016 Virginia campaign chairman, said shortly after the Facebook post appeared.
Chase declined to comment on Fredericks’s account.
Sen. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Richmond) said Chase told him the announcement “involves the race for governor.” He said she’s been talking with him for some time about the possibility that she would run next year — and make gun rights the “centerpiece” of her bid.
Chase would be the first Republican to formally enter the race to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who by law cannot seek back-to-back terms. Pete Snyder, a Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur, has been publicly mulling a bid. Republicans have not won a statewide race since 2009.
The Democratic contest could be far more crowded: Former governor Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (Richmond), Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (Prince William) and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney have indicated an interest in running.
Chase drew attention last year for wearing a holstered .38 Special on the Senate floor. When a joint House-Senate committee voted this year to ban lawmakers and the public from bringing firearms into the Capitol, she hinted that she would just tuck the gun inside her American flag purse. As a lawmaker, Chase is not screened when entering the building.
In pivotal legislative races last year, Chase was the rare suburban Republican who invoked the president, guns and abortion. Most of the GOP’s swing-district candidates tried to avoid those topics in a state that Trump lost by six points. She alienated party leadership and was ousted from her local GOP committee after a string of controversies — including cursing at a Capitol Police officer over a parking spot, calling the Senate clerk “Miss Piggy” and declaring rape victims “naive and unprepared.”
But the blowback she got from party officials only bolstered her standing with some GOP activists, solidifying her image as a Trumpian iconoclast. She won reelection handily.
She quit the GOP Senate caucus and been ostracized by both parties during this year’s General Assembly session.
Senators from both parties have lambasted her on the floor for denouncing colleagues who support gun-control on Facebook — and posting their office phone numbers. Democrats gave her just one committee assignment, on the lowly Local Government Committee. All of the bills she carried solo have been killed.
A private group supporting a Chase bid for governor in 2021 emerged on Facebook about a month ago. It has 342 members.
The bravado could work for her, Fredericks said, particularly if the GOP decides to pick its gubernatorial nominee in a convention — a method that tends to favor more conservative candidates — instead of a statewide primary.
“She’ll raise very little money but she’ll certainly inspire a following in Virginia and would be a very tough foe for anyone to beat in a nominating convention,” he said.