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Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia GOP’s nomination for governor

Political newcomer bests 6 rivals to set up likely fall race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

VirginiaRICHMOND (CFP) — Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy outsider making his first run for political office, has won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor, setting up what will likely be a high-spending and highly contested fall match-up with Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe.

Glenn Youngkin

Youngkin secured a majority to clinch the nomination after six rounds of counting; the Republican Party of Virginia opted to use ranked-choice voting by more than 30,000 delegates who cast ballots during a statewide drive-thru convention Saturday.

Younkin won 55% of the weighted delegate vote to defeat his last remaining rival, Pete Snyder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.

“I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me,” Youngkin said on Twitter after Snyder conceded late Monday. “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond.”

State Senator Amanda Chase from Chesterfield County — who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and has been threatening to bolt the party to run as an independent — was eliminated in the round prior to Snyder. She has so far not publicly reacted or gave an indication of her future plans, although Trump endorsed Youngkin after results were announced.

In the race for lieutenant governor, former State Delegate Winsome Sears — the 2020 national chair of Black Americans to Re-Elect President Trump whose campaign posters and Twitter feed show her carrying an assault rifle — defeated five other candidates to win the party’s nod.

State Delegate Jason Miyares from Virginia Beach beat out three other candidates in the race to be the party’s nominee for attorney general. However, the second-place finisher in that contest, Chuck Smith, has requested a recount.

Youngkin, 54, who lives in Great Falls in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, was formerly the CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He loaned his campaign more than $5 million, which gave him a financial advantage over his intra-party rivals with more political experience.

Democrats will choose their nominees for all three offices in a June 8 primary. McAuliffe, who is trying to reclaim the post he held from 2014 to 2018, holds a commanding lead in Democratic polling.

Republicans have not won an election to statewide office since 2009, as the Old Dominion has moved more clearly into the Democratic column.

But Republican activists have been energized by the Democratic takeover of the legislature in 2020, which has ushered in a flurry of social legislation, including LGBTQ rights measures, gun control and marijuana legalization.

The Republican convention count — conducted by hand after some candidates objected to using computer software programs over fraud concerns — began Sunday afternoon at a hotel in downtown Richmond and was live-streamed.

The party used ranked-choice voting, which meant that if no one got a majority after the initial count, lower-finishing candidates were eliminated one-by-one and their votes reassigned to the delegate’s second choice.

Also, delegate votes didn’t count equally but were weighted based on where each delegate lives, with each county and independent city in Virginia given a number of delegates based on Republican performance in past elections.

Incumbent Governor Ralph Northam is barred by state law from seeking re-election; Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is running for governor; and Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election.

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Virginia Republicans begin count of delegate votes for statewide offices

Hand count at Richmond hotel will decide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

VirginiaRICHMOND (CFP) — Republican party officials in Virginia have begun counting votes cast in Saturday’s statewide drive-thru nominating convention to pick their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, with at least one candidate already lobbing charges of malfeasance.

The count began Sunday afternoon at a hotel in downtown Richmond. It will be done by hand, after some candidates objected to using computer software programs over fraud concerns, and live-streamed.

Virginia Counting

Live-stream of Virginia GOP vote count

Due to the hand counting and complexity of the process — which includes weighting votes and ranked-choice voting — full results are not expected until at least Tuesday and could stretch to Thursday.

Delegates cast votes at 39 drive-thru locations across the commonwealth. Rich Anderson, the Republican Party of Virginia chair, said officials “could not be happier with how smoothly and efficiently our convention was run.”

“We would also like to ensure all the convention delegates that their ballots will be counted fairly and accurately – leaving no room for doubt or question as to whom our nominees will be,” Anderson said in a statement.

However, State Senator Amanda Chase — who calls herself “Trump in heels” — took to Twitter shortly after convention closed to allege that party officials in Madison and Prince William counties were not following the rules. She accused them of trying to tilt the election to one of her rivals, Pete Snyder, and threatened to bolt the party.

If RPV steals this election for Pete I still have plenty of time to run as an independent,” she tweeted. “Clear corruption by RPV, I will not honor a pledge if the Party cannot run a fair process.”

Since the 2020 election, Chase has embraced Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and his assertion that he was cheated out of re-election. She was censured by her Senate colleagues and stripped of committee assignments for calling the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 “patriots.”

She also carried a gun into a committee hearing, was forced to sit in a plexiglass box in the Senate chamber after refusing to wear a mask, and has vigorously opposed efforts to remove Confederate monuments. Some party leaders have expressed fears that given all of her controversies, her nomination could lead to electoral disaster in November.

Party officials plan to first count the vote in the race for attorney general, with four candidates, followed by the lieutenant governor’s race, with six, and the governor’s race, with seven.

Republicans in the Old Dominion, which has been shifting Democratic, have not won any of those offices since 2009.

Virginia Republicans decided to nominate candidates with a convention, rather than a primary, which is allowed under state law but which set off internal wrangling over process, with the loudest complaints coming from Chase, who has charged that party officials were trying to use rules to stop her.

Delegate votes won’t count equally but will be weighted based on where each delegate lives.

Each county and independent city in Virginia was given a number of delegates based on Republican performance in past elections, and delegates from each locality will pick those delegates. That means that some rural, heavily Republican counties will elect more delegates than much larger, Democratic Richmond, although larger numbers of delegates in those areas could make the value of each individual delegate vote less.

To add another layer of complexity, the party is also using ranked-choice voting, in which delegates will rank candidates rather than selecting one. If no candidate gains a majority, candidates with fewer votes will be eliminated and their votes reassigned to delegates’ second choices, until someone gains a majority.

Ranked-choice voting is normally associated with more Democratic-leaning electorates, such as the city of San Francisco and the state of Maine. But Virginia Republicans used the process in electing a party chair in 2020 and opted to continue with the practice this year.

In addition to Chase and Synder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013, the governor’s race includes State Delegate Kirk Cox, who served as House speaker until Republicans lost control of the legislature in 2017; Glenn Youngkin, an investment company executive; Octavia Johnson, the former sheriff in Roanoke; Peter Doran, a former think tank CEO; and Sergio de la Peña, a former Army colonel who served as a deputy assistant defense secretary in the Pentagon during the Trump administration.

The survivor of the convention will likely face the formidable challenge of trying to beat Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe, who is trying to reclaim the post he held from 2014 to 2018 and holds a wide lead in polls in the Democratic race.

The race for lieutenant governor includes State Delegate Glenn Davis; former Delegate Tim Hugo; Puneet Ahluwalia, a business consultant; Lance Allen, an Air Force veteran who works for a defense contractor; Maeve Rigler, an attorney and businesswoman; and former Delegate Winsome Sears, whose campaign posters and Twitter feed show her carrying an assault rifle.

The lieutenant governor’s race was rocked in the final stretch with an anonymous robocall accusing Davis of being a “gay Democrat.” He filed a defamation suit to try to unmask who was behind the attack.

The attorney general’s race includes Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley, State Delegate Jason Miyares and attorneys Chuck Smith and Jack White.

Democrats will choose their nominees for all three offices in a June 8 primary.

Incumbent Governor Ralph Northam is barred by state law from seeking re-election; Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is running for governor; and Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election.

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Virginia Republicans pick nominees for statewide races at convention Saturday

Voting will take place at 39 different locations across the commonwealth, using weighted and ranked-choice voting

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

VirginiaRICHMOND (CFP) — Republicans delegates will gather across Virginia on Saturday to pick their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general using a complex process that will leave candidates waiting for results for days — results that, in an echo of 2020, one candidate for governor has already warned supporters not to trust.

All three races have drawn crowded fields, with seven candidates in the governor’s race, six running for lieutenant governor, and four competing for attorney general. Republicans have not won any of those offices since 2009.

The Republican Party of Virginia decided to nominate candidates with a convention, rather than a primary, which is allowed under state law but which set off internal wrangling over process that is likely to continue long after the votes are cast.

After discarding plans for a state convention at a single location due to COVID-19 concerns, the more than 53,000 delegates who have registered to participate will drop off ballots at one of 39 drive-thru polling locations. The locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ballots will then be driven to a central location in Richmond to be counted by hand, after some candidates objected to electronic counting. Counting won’t begin until Sunday and is expected to last until at least Tuesday before winners are declared. The counting process will be live-streamed.

Despite loud complaints from Republicans nationally about voter fraud, NBC News reported that the state party quietly decided to let delegates participate who did not provide their state-issued voter ID number or signature on their delegate applications, although ID will be required to cast ballots Saturday.

Further complicating the process is the fact that delegate votes won’t count equally but will be weighted based on where each delegate lives.

Each county and independent city in Virginia was given a number of delegates based on Republican performance in past elections, and delegates from each locality will pick those delegates. That means that some rural, heavily Republican counties will elect more delegates than much larger, Democratic Richmond, although larger numbers of delegates in those areas could make the value of each individual delegate vote less.

To add another layer of complexity, the party is also using ranked-choice voting, in which delegates will rank candidates rather than selecting one. If no candidate gains a majority, candidates with fewer votes will be eliminated and their votes reassigned to delegates’ second choices, until someone gains a majority.

Ranked-choice voting is normally associated with more Democratic-leaning electorates, such as the city of San Francisco and the state of Maine. But Virginia Republicans used the process in electing a party chair in 2020 and opted to continue with the practice this year.

The decision to hold a convention rather than a primary and use ranked-choice voting have been seen as maneuvers to block State Senator Amanda Chase from winning the party’s nomination for governor.

Chase — who describes herself as “Trump in heels” — would have been formidable in a primary or a convention where a candidate could win with a plurality. She has loudly objected to procedural decisions by state party leaders, at one point threatening to bolt and run as an independent.

In a recent fundraising email sent to supporters, Chase said, in all caps, “DO NOT TRUST THE PARTY TO DELIVER ACCURATE RESULTS” and threatened a lawsuit if the party’s figures don’t match those compiled by her own campaign.

Since the 2020 election, Chase has embraced Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and his assertion that he was cheated out of re-election.

In addition to Chase, the governor’s race includes State Delegate Kirk Cox, who served as House speaker until Republicans lost control of the legislature in 2017; Glenn Youngkin, an investment company executive; Pete Snyder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013; Octavia Johnson, the former sheriff in Roanoke; Peter Doran, a former think tank CEO; and Sergio de la Peña, a former Army colonel who served as a deputy assistant defense secretary in the Pentagon during the Trump administration.

The survivor of the convention will likely face the formidable challenge of trying to beat Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe, who is trying to reclaim the post he held from 2014 to 2018 and holds a wide lead in polls in the Democratic race.

The race for lieutenant governor includes State Delegate Glenn Davis; former Delegate Tim Hugo; Puneet Ahluwalia, a business consultant; Lance Allen, an Air Force veteran who works for a defense contractor; Maeve Rigler, an attorney and businesswoman; and former Delegate Winsome Sears.

The lieutenant governor’s race was rocked in the final stretch with an anonymous robocall accusing Davis of being a “gay Democrat.” He filed a defamation suit to try to unmask who was behind the attack.

The attorney general’s race includes Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley, State Delegate Jason Miyares and attorneys Chuck Smith and Jack White.

Democrats will choose their nominees for all three offices in a June 8 primary.

Incumbent Governor Ralph Northam is barred by state law from seeking re-election; Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is running for governor; and Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election.

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Here he goes again: Charlie Crist leaving Congress to run for Florida governor

Crist makes another run for state’s top office after statewide losses in 2010 and 2014

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — He’s run for 10 times for six different offices over the past three decades and has been, at various times, a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. And now Charlie Crist is giving up his relatively safe seat in Congress to once again seek the state’s top office as a Democrat that he once held as a Republican.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Florida, announces run for governor in St. Petersburg (From WPTV via YouTube)

Crist announced Tuesday that he would forgo re-election to his 13th District U.S. House seat in order to challenge Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022.

“This won’t be an easy fight, but nothing in life worth fighting for is easy,” Crist told supporters at a kickoff rally in his hometown of St. Petersburg. “I’m running so you will be in charge again, so you will have a governor who will work for the people with a steady hand and an open heart.”

Crist opened the campaign with a broadside against DeSantis, whom, he said, “doesn’t listen, who doesn’t care and who doesn’t think about you — unless, of course, you write him a campaign check.”

Watch video of Crist’s campaign kickoff rally at end of story

While Crist is the biggest Democratic name to enter the race so far, he may have to battle to get his party’s nomination. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — the only Democrat now holding statewide office in the Sunshine State — is expected to run, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings from Orlando is also seriously considering the race.

Crist’s decision also has implications for the Democrats’ narrow House majority, as he represents a swing House district in Pinellas County that Republicans held for more than 30 years before he flipped it in 2016.

The Republican he beat in 2020 by 6 points, Anna Paulina Luna, has already announced a 2022 run.

Should he become the Democratic nominee, Crist would face a formidable foe in DeSantis, who has been building a national political profile to possibly seek the White House in 2024.  A Democrat hasn’t won the governorship in Florida since 1994.

Crist’s new political quest is the latest chapter in a complicated political career that has seen him seek six different offices over the last 30 years. His new run for governor will be his 11th campaign overall and seventh statewide.

Crist reached the top in Republican politics in 2006, when he was elected governor as a conservative. But then he  then decided to forgo re-election in 2010 to make what turned out to be an ill-considered run for the U.S. Senate. Poised to lose the Republican primary to now U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Crist bolted the GOP to run unsuccessfully as an independent.

By 2014, he had changed parties again to become a Democrat and narrowly lost the governor’s race to Rick Scott, who now holds the state’s other Senate seat.

Crist, 64, revived his political career in 2016 with his successful run for the House as a Democrat, a seat which he is now giving up after just six years to once again seek higher office.

This will be Crist’s third run for governor. He’s also run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice, in 1998 and 2010, and was also elected as state education commissioner and attorney general before winning the governorship.

He has gone 3-and-3 in his previous statewide races.

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Former South Carolina U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham running for governor

Lowcountry Democrat lost his U.S. House re-election bid in 2020

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

South CarolinaCHARLESTON, South Carolina (CFP) — Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham officially launched his 2022 campaign for governor on April 26 with a broadside against the Republican establishment that has reigned supreme in Columbia for two decades.

“The challenges that we face are not because of our people. They’re because of our politicians,” Cunningham said in a video launching his campaign. “After 20 years of trying the same thing, it’s time for something different.”

cunningham

Democrat Joe Cunningham announces run for governor

Cunningham hit State House Republicans and incumbent Republican Governor Henry McMaster for focusing on new abortion and voting restrictions and loosening gun laws as residents struggled to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Governor McMaster has been cheering them on, every step of the way,” Cunningham said. “It’s embarrassing.”

And although a Democrat hasn’t won a governor’s race in the Palmetto State since 1998, Cunningham pointed to his own 2018 U.S. House win as evidence that his campaign is not a lost cause.

“To those who say a Democrat can’t win in South Carolina, well, we’ve heard that before,” he said.

Cunningham, 38, a Charleston lawyer, shocked the political world in 2018 with his win in the state’s 1st District, part of a Democratic wave that swept the party to House control.

However, he could not hold the seat in 2020, losing to Republican Nancy Mace despite raising and spending more than $7 million for the race.

With his name recognition and fundraising prowess, Cunningham will be the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination to face McMaster, who will be running for his second full term as chief executive.

News of Cunningham’s candidacy drew some praise from Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who told The State newspaper that Cunningham would be “a formidable opponent.”

However, he also noted that his own re-election race in 2020 — where he won by 10 points despite $100 million in spending against him — shows that South Carolina is “still a pretty Republican state.”

Video of Cunningham’s announcement:

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