Chase joins wide Virginia GOP field challenging Spanberger

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A firebrand state senator with a long history of clashing with fellow Republicans and others across the political spectrum has joined the crowded GOP field seeking to unseat Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.

“I will continue to be a strong voice for the people and will continue to push back against the far-left’s extreme agenda,” Amanda Chase said in a news release Wednesday announcing her campaign.

An ardent supporter of gun rights who promotes herself as “Trump in heels,” Chase currently represents Virginia’s 11th Senate district south of Richmond. She was first elected to the General Assembly in 2015 after she knocked off a longtime incumbent who had far outraised her in a Republican primary.

Chase, who campaigned for Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin after her own gubernatorial bid fell short this year, is a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. She attended a Jan. 6 rally with Trump shortly before the attack on the Capitol, has called for an “audit” of the 2020 election in Virginia and in December said Trump should invoke martial law to seize voting machines.

Her senate colleagues voted on a bipartisan basis to censure her in January for what they called a “pattern of unacceptable conduct.” She said her comments that provoked the censure were protected by free speech and unsuccessfully sued to have the decision overturned.

Virginia Democrats criticized Chase’s entry into the 7th District race.

“Every day, she finds a new way to prove that she is too extreme for Virginia,” said Jayce Genco, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Spanberger, a moderate and a former CIA operations officer, defeated Rep. Dave Brat in 2018 to flip the seat blue, helping deliver party control of the House of Representatives.

The crowd of Republicans seeking to challenge her has been growing in recent months, while Democrats have become increasingly worried about their chances of maintaining control of Congress in the midterms following their poor showing in this month’s elections in Virginia and elsewhere.

The GOP contenders who have either announced their intention to run or filed associated paperwork also includes: Tina Ramirez, a small-business owner who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination two years ago; veteran John Castorani, who previously ran for Congress in Alabama; Taylor Keeney, a former aide to Gov. Bob McDonnell; Gary Barve, who previously ran for local office in California; Derrick Anderson, also a veteran and an attorney; state Sen. Bryce Reeves; and state Del. John McGuire.

The crowded party contest is shaping up even though the boundaries of the competitive district remain unsettled, because the once-a-decade process of redrawing political maps is still underway.

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