Shenanigans in the 11th State Senate District

Guest Author Alexander Edwards


Though we’re less than two weeks into February; things are already heating up in the 11th Senate District Primary. The 11th District covers parts of Chesterfield County, all of Amelia County and all of Colonial Heights City. Senator Steve Martin currently holds the seat. Senator Martin has drawn two primary challengers in the form of political activist Amanda Chase and businessman Barry Moore.

In the February 5th edition of the Amelia Bulletin Monitor (local news source in Amelia County), they featured an interview they conducted with challenger Amanda Chase. While the rest of the interview did a very good job describing Chase’s political activism and her family values, one thing caught my attention. At the end of the article is an editor’s note where the paper called Chase out for making a claim that is not factual.



Chase claims that Senator Martin wrote a law that requires the 11th District to nominate its candidates by primary.

The law Chase is referring to is Virginia Code Section 24.2-509, which contains an exception that allows incumbents to determine the method of nomination as opposed to the party’s committee (unless the party has no incumbent). We are currently seeing a battle over this code section playing out in the 24th Senate District over the method of nomination for Senator Emmett Hanger’s re-election. This law has been in place for decades, long before Senator Martin was first elected to the Virginia Legislature, contrary to Chase’s claims.


To make a false public claim that your opponent (and current incumbent) wrote a law specifically to protect his elected position is a dishonest way to campaign. Voters today expect candidates to campaign on the merits of their own ideas for how to right our nation and commonwealth’s course. We also learned through the 7th District Republican Primary that voters are tired of false, personal attacks. It helped now Congressman Dave Brat win the nomination when then Majority Leader Eric Cantor began using the liberal college professor attack line.

Sources familiar with the most recent December meeting of the 11th Senate District Committee confirm that it was the committee, not Senator Martin, chose to use a primary as the method of nomination on a unanimous vote. Those sources also confirm that neither Chase, nor a representative of her campaign, attended the meeting after being notified several times via email of the meeting’s location and time.

Even after being called out by the Amelia Bulletin Monitor for her not factual claim, Chase took to Facebook and doubled down on her claim.



I would recommend that Chase stick to the facts and talk about her plan for our commonwealth. These types of false, personal attacks are exactly what is wrong with today’s political climate and are exactly why the political process turns off many voters. Campaigns should be about voting records of incumbents and about ideas for growth.



2 thoughts on “Shenanigans in the 11th State Senate District

  1. While everyone who knows me knows I oppose all primaries as unconstitutional infringements on the right of free association, Mrs. Chase is in error in asserting that Sen. Martin authored the incumbent protection act. The law predates Sen. Martin’s service in the General Assembly (which began in January 1988 after his first election to the House of Delegates).

    Back in the early 1990s, the late Del. Robert E. Harris explained to me that this law dates to the 1970s, after a Democrat legislator nearly lost a renomination bid in a method other than primary (Del. Harris remembered that it was a convention). Once he was re-elected that Fall, according to Mr. Harris, this Democrat legislator pushed the incumbent protection statute to passage.

    He didn’t identify the legislator, and the story can only be taken as apocryphal, but the practice of incumbents exercising their rights to demand primaries dates to the mid-1980s in my OWN experience, again, predating Steve Martin’s state legislative tenure.

    I’m guessing the Chesterfield County Registrar is referring to a lawsuit filed in the 11th Senate District in 2007, Miller v. Brown, in which Larry Miller sued the State Board of Elections over the incumbent protection act. The 4th Circuit found, in the narrow instance of the 2007 primary challenge to Sen. Martin, that the incumbent protection act was unconstitutional, as applied in the 11th Senate District. It did not answer the broader challenge to its overall constitutionality.

    Since the ruling came down in October 2007, it was already four months after the primary, too late to affect the nomination in the 11th District that year.

    By the way, whatever the Chesterfield County Registrar might believe, there has never been and currently can not be a “closed primary” in Virginia, automatic or otherwise, since there is no mechanism at the registrars’ or boards of elections’ disposal to determine who belongs to which party. So ALL primaries in Virginia, by definition and by statute, are “open.”

Comments are closed.