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Virginia Republicans do some soul searching, as the next election cycle looms

Amanda Chase
Steve Helber
/
AP
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, front, works on a laptop computer before a Senate special session in Richmond, Va.

After a stunning election cycle that saw Republican hopes of a red wave dashed, the party is trying to figure out its future as another election cycle begins.

The last election may be over. But the upcoming General Assembly primary season is only a few weeks away, and it's coming at a time when Republicans are having an identity crisis. Delegate Tim Anderson of Virginia Beach and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears are advocating for Republicans to ditch former President Donald Trump.

J. Miles Coleman at the University of Virginia says that will be the tension in the upcoming primary season.

"To me, it's going to be a question of how much Republicans in their primaries prioritize electability. They did that very well in the Republican convention," Coleman explains. "That's why they went with someone like Youngkin as opposed to Amanda Chase, who I think would have probably lost that election last year had she been their nominee."

State Senator Amanda Chase is a MAGA supporter, and she's been critical of the lieutenant governor for wanting to drop Trump. Mark Rozell is dean of the Schar School at George Mason University.

"It's really a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," says Rozell. "And we're going to be seeing this in Virginia next year as one of the first set of electoral contests after the national elections of this year to test the continued strength of the Trump wing of the Republican Party in party nomination contests."

Those nomination contests are about to play out in all 100 House of Delegates seats and all 40 state Senate seats.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.