Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican candidate for governor, says Virginia’s Democratic Party hates white people and that the party is seeking the Richmond voter registrar’s ouster because she is white.
On Friday night, Chase posted on Facebook in response to a Richmond Times-Dispatch story about state Democrats asking for Richmond voter registrar Kirk Showalter’s resignation or removal.
“Make no mistake. The Virginia Democratic Party is racist to its core,” Chase wrote.
“The Democratic Party of Virginia has asked for Richmond’s voter registrar to quit or be fired. They hate white people. They want the Richmond registrar to resign because she’s white.”
Grant Fox, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, called Chase’s post “just another laughable conspiracy theory from Republicans’ leading candidate for governor.”
Showalter said in a telephone interview Saturday: “Goodness, I would hope that it’s not because of my race.”
The registrar said she has long had good working relationships with African American and Hispanic people in the Richmond community.
Susan Swecker, chair of the state Democratic Party since 2015, is white. She has worked in Virginia politics for 40 years. Showalter, a former state budget analyst, has been Richmond’s registrar since 1995.
In a telephone interview Saturday, Chase asserted that “this has become a race issue” because of what she termed “a blatant double standard.” She said Democrats are not holding accountable voter registrars in Henrico and Chesterfield counties.
Henrico County registrar Mark J. Coakley is white. Chesterfield County registrar Constance L. Hargrove is African American.
Chase said Virginia Democrats need to hold Coakley accountable over the report that on Wednesday, Nov. 4, the day after the election, county election officials discovered a cache of early votes in the 7th District that had not been reported. Coakley said they were among roughly 15,000 votes on a mislabeled computer memory stick that inadvertently were not included in the county’s initial absentee totals.
Chase said state Democrats should hold Hargrove accountable for not allowing a Republican to observe a meeting to consider the validity of provisional ballots.
The Chesterfield County Republican Committee alleged in a court complaint that Hargrove failed to comply with statutorily mandated post-election procedures by excluding a representative of the Republican Party during a Nov. 6 meeting to consider the validity of provisional ballots.
On Nov. 10, a Chesterfield judge withdrew a show cause order against Hargrove and dismissed the case after determining that he had no authority — at that stage — to litigate the matter.
“Give me a break,” Chase said Saturday. “If they’re going to go after [Showalter], they need to go after the Henrico registrar and the Chesterfield registrar.”
Without specifying Henrico or Chesterfield, Showalter said she does not disagree with Chase that “there were errors made in other registrars’ offices around the state.”
As for her situation, Showalter said: “I take exception to how it has been handled” by the state Democratic Party, and reiterated: “I certainly hope it is not racial.”
In a letter to the Richmond Electoral Board listing concerns with Showalter’s handling of the election, local and state Democratic officials said she did not comply with the state’s open records laws and new election rules intended to help voters who mailed absentee ballots correct errors.
The letter also questioned Showalter’s handling of a COVID-19 outbreak in the city’s election office and significant corrections to the vote count in two Richmond City Council races. (The State Board of Elections delayed state certification of Virginia’s voter tallies by two days because of the coronavirus outbreak at the Richmond office.)
Reading from a prepared statement Thursday, Showalter said she does not intend to quit.
“I am confident that whatever the allegations are will be examined, it will be shown that the election was managed well under difficult circumstances, and that we did all in our power to comply with all the last-minute changes and additional requirements,” she said.
Showalter recently tested positive for COVID-19. The city registrar’s office has been closed in recent days due to the outbreak and will reopen Monday.
Bob Holsworth, a veteran Virginia political analyst and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University, said Saturday: “The Democratic Party is frustrated with Showalter in Richmond and it has nothing to do with Showalter’s race.
“Chase arguing that this is some sort of a racial issue exacerbates the tensions that we see in the political arena across the nation.”
Chase, who announced her bid for governor in February, casts herself as a fighter for transparency and freedom, as when she backs gun rights and opposes mask mandates. Her political opponents in both parties say she’s given to Trumpian bombast.
Former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, a delegate from Colonial Heights, also is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.
Chase has promoted claims of widespread voter fraud by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and has said she “will not let up until we expose the voter fraud that is going on in Virginia and reverse this election for our president.”
Last week, the State Board of Elections voted 3-0 to certify Virginia’s elections. No one spoke to dispute the totals.
Chase has helped organize and spoken at “Stop the Steal” rallies and has termed Gov. Ralph Northam a “tyrant” because of Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Chase was first elected to the Senate in 2015 after upsetting Sen. Steve Martin, a 20-year incumbent, in a GOP primary.
She has made headlines for her roles in a number of controversies. She announced in November 2019 that she was leaving the Senate Republican Caucus after Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, was re-elected as the Senate Republican leader.
In March 2019, Chase was seen on video berating a Capitol Police officer who refused to let her park in a secure area near the Capitol.
In September, as senators debated police reform, Norment rebuked Chase on the Senate floor for referring to the incident and saying: “I know what it’s like to be a victim.”
Chase added that the Capitol Police officer had left the force. Norment said he was “appalled” at the implication the officer had left the job because of the incident. Norment said the officer had left to take a higher-paying job in federal law enforcement.
Regarding Chase, Norment said: “It is unbelievable what I heard her state in light of her behavior and conduct.”
Staff writer Mel Leonor contributed to this report.