RICHMOND — Virginia Republicans elected Chesterfield lawyer Jack Wilson to be their new party chairman Saturday, choosing an establishment favorite to guide the state GOP through tough midterm congressional elections and beyond.
The party’s State Central Committee picked Wilson over Chuck Smith, a Virginia Beach lawyer who sought the nomination for attorney general last year but failed to gather enough signatures to make the ballot. In his bid for the chair, Smith touted his early support for President Trump.
Wilson’s supporters saw him as a more conventional Republican figure and a better fit for the only Southern state that Trump lost in 2016. Wilson won by a 53-to-25 vote at the meeting in Richmond.
Wilson takes over at a dismal time for Virginia Republicans, who lost all three statewide offices last year and saw their overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates all but evaporate. The party has not won a statewide election since 2009, when Robert F. McDonnell led a sweep for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
The chairmanship, a volunteer post, became open when John C. Whitbeck stepped down in July, saying he wanted to pursue unspecified “political opportunities.”