The Chesterfield County GOP notified hometown state Sen. Amanda Chase on Monday that she was being kicked out of the local party following a series of controversies that upset other Republicans, including public attacks by Chase on Republican Sheriff Karl Leonard.
Chesterfield GOP Chairwoman Tara Carroll sent a letter to Chase on Monday saying that her refusal to adhere to requests the party made in a letter on Friday triggered Chase’s automatic removal.
The action is mostly symbolic. Chase remains the Republican nominee on the Nov. 5 ballot against Democrat Amanda Pohl, but can no longer be a voting member of her local Republican unit.
“We are disappointed that you have chosen not to take the required remedial actions outlined in our letter sent last Friday, Sept. 27, which notified you of the provisions of the Party Plan that trigger the automatic loss of your membership unless you disavowed the use of your name in support of, and ceased your in-kind contribution to, a candidate running against our Republican nominee for sheriff,” Carroll wrote to Chase.
Chase defended herself Monday in a telephone interview, saying Leonard opened up a quarrel with her, and she doubled down on questioning his Republican credentials.
“I will not back down,” she said.
The Friday letter told Chase there was a requirement that no member of the Republican committee publicly support any candidate running against a Republican nominee. Leonard faces independent candidate Rahn Kersey, a retired sergeant with the Virginia Division of Capitol Police.
The letter said Chase promoted Kersey’s candidacy through Facebook and public statements, including a comment from Chase in a Chesterfield Observer news story in which she said Kersey was “more of a Republican” than Leonard.
Chase was told to stop supporting — or appearing to support — the independent candidate, the letter continued, saying Chase “recently escalated the situation by introducing the independent candidate for sheriff to numerous people at a public event and by launching a social media attack campaign against our Republican nominee, Sheriff Leonard. These are actions that the Republican Party will not condone.”
On Thursday, Chase made a post on Facebook saying Leonard supported so-called sanctuary cities, a claim Leonard denounced as a lie.
The Friday letter to Chase made several requests of her, asking her to “take corrective action so we can resolve the matter privately and avoid public action.”
That included a request for her to remove posts from her Facebook page attacking Leonard, and a request for her to make clear she was not supporting the independent candidate.
“Please know that there are many members displeased by the current state of affairs,” the letter said.
The follow-up letter on Monday was shorter.
“Since you chose not to take advantage of this opportunity to remain a member of the committee, the loss of membership is automatic and now in effect,” it said, in part.
In the interview Monday, Chase said Kersey endorsed her, and her campaign paid to boost a Facebook post with an image of her alongside him. But she said Kersey was endorsing her, not the other way around.
Chase said that following coverage of a police report about an incident she had in March with a Capitol Police officer, she welcomed support from someone who had worked for the Capitol Police. That report said Chase cursed at the officer while demanding to park in a secure area, causing a traffic backup at the Capitol.
“We want people to know that I have a sergeant with the Capitol Police who’s endorsing me,” she said.
She said Leonard began the feud with her, saying he “made the first step on not endorsing me.”
Chase was referring to a Facebook post Leonard made this spring after Chase posted a photo of herself at an event with Chesterfield sheriff’s deputies.
“I want to make it very clear that the below photo is not an endorsement of Senator Chase by the Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office or myself,” Leonard wrote. “I will always stand behind the men and women of law enforcement who selflessly serve our communities.”
Chase put in another good word for Kersey in the interview on Monday, saying he is a “great Republican” and conservative Christian who opposes “sanctuary cities.”
She said she plans to “conduct a thorough investigation” of immigration policy in Leonard’s office.
Leonard said in a phone interview Monday: “That’s all part of her distraction technique.”