I’ve been pondering this nightmare scenario for the past couple of weeks or so; a 2024 presidential race that features four major political parties. For the first time since 1860 I think it’s a genuine possibility, with the Right splitting up into the MAGA Party and the remnant GOP and the Left formalizing the fracturing of the Democrat Party by breaking up into the Democratic Socialist Party and the Democrats. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen at this point, but it’s certainly conceivable, and we may get a preview of things to come in next year’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia.
Governors can serve only one term in Virginia, which means “King Ralph” Northam is on his way out next year, and the fractures in the Republican Party are already having an impact on next year’s race. Republicans looked to be headed for a bruising primary battle between state Senator Amanda Chase; a Trumpian defender of the Second Amendment who’s running as an outsider, and Del. Kirk Cox, a former House speaker and the epitome of an establishment GOP figure. That changed this past weekend, however, as the state GOP decided that the nominee would be picked via a convention of delegates, rather than a primary where far more voters would have a say.
Republican Sen. Amanda Chase announced on Facebook today that she will now be seeking the nomination for governor as an independent.
Chase says that she has come to this decision after the Republican Party of Virginia decided to use a convention method instead of a primary election. Chase explains in her statement that she feels running as an independent is the only way “to bypass the political constituents and the Republican establishment elite who slow play the rules or even cheat grassroots candidates.”
The senator plans to start collecting signatures to get her name on the ballot for governor in January.
There are a few other Republicans who are thinking about running, so Cox isn’t guaranteed of the nomination, but the chances are really good that Chase will be able to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. That will give the Right its two candidates. What about the prospects of a Democratic crack-up?
There’s already a crowded field in the Democrat primary, with former governor Terry McAuliffe expected to officially announce his campaign on Wednesday, joining Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state legislators Jennifer McClellan and Jennifer Carroll Foy. There’ve also been rumors that Richmond mayor Levar Stoney could announce a run, along with Del. Lee Carter, a Democratic Socialist who represents the northern Virginia suburb of Manassas and portions of Prince William County.
It’s unlikely that Carter would be able to defeat McAuliffe, who I suspect will be the clear front runner when he officially announces, but McAuliffe will be toxic to the socialist wing of the Democratic party. He’s an establishment Democrat who’s been enriching himself off of politics since the Clinton administration. Carter has said he’s seriously considering running for governor next year, but he doesn’t have to run as a Democrat. Like Chase, he too could choose to run as an independent, courting the AOC fans and Bernie Bros in northern Virginia and the state’s college towns.
Each of those four candidates; Chase, Cox, McAuliffe, and Carter, would start with a substantial base of support, and it could turn into an incredibly close race and a preview of things to come if the national parties continue to fracture along the many emerging fault lines.
More likely, unfortunately, is the possibility that Democrats will mostly unite around a single candidate, while conservatives and the GOP will split their vote between Chase’s independent candidacy and the eventual Republican nominee. That would deliver the governorship to the Democrats once again, ensuring four more years of attempts to target our Second Amendment rights.
As a Virginia resident and gun owner, I’m really hoping that’s not the case, so I find myself in the odd position of rooting for a socialist to throw his hat into the ring to even the odds a little bit. I’d rather have four candidates across the political spectrum for voters to choose from than a consolidated Left and a fractured Right, but I don’t know that’s what we’re going to get.