The Richmond Times Dispatch may routinely endorse Democrats over Republicans in general elections, but their endorsements are traditionally more considered for primary races. In primaries, the RTD appears to consider the individual candidates character and ability to be effective lead if elected, rather than the political leanings of the candidates. This has never been more clear than in the RTD’s significant endorsement of Amanda Chase in the 11th Senate District Republican Primary on June 9th.
The reason this is significant is two-fold. First, Amanda Chase is also the candidate endorsed by the major Tea Party groups, including The Tea Party Nation, the Virginia Liberty Party and the Chesterfield Tea Party. The RTD is traditionally opposed to the view of the Tea Party in their opinion pages, often using the moniker in a dismissive or pejorative fashion. By endorsing the Tea Party candidate, the RTD concedes that there is no way a liberal can ever win the 11th, so it is best to have the most capable leader available from a conservative district. They endorsed Amanda Chase as that leader, despite her strongly conservative stance on social issues and Tea Party endorsements.
The second way this is significant is that the endorsement specifically addresses Chase’s ability to defeat Senator Martin in a primary and lead skillfully as a senator. In the three-way primary, those voters in the 11th who have tired of Martin and are looking for a new candidate are split between Moore and Chase. Martin’s biggest strength in the campaign is the fact that his two challengers will divide the opposition vote and could allow Martin to win despite majority opposition. The RTD endorsement shines a light on Martin’s opposition and theneed for them to unite behind the best candidate to unseat Martin. This endorsement is designed to unite the opposition behind Chase as the best candidate to unseat an unpopular incumbent. If this causes voters to unite behind Chase rather than split the vote with Moore, Martin may be in real trouble.
Here is the text of the endorsement:
In the 11th District, which includes Amelia County, Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, Steve Martin is seeking another term. It’s hard not to notice that several high-level Chesterfield Republicans, most notably the commonwealth’s attorney and the sheriff, are supporting candidates other than their own longtime senator. When local elected officials choose to not endorse a state legislator who has accumulated much seniority in the General Assembly and should be able to use his clout to help the folks back home, it sends a stark message: It must be time for a change.
We agree. Martin faces two opponents. Barry Moore is a successful businessman and an earnest voice for better government. We’re pleased that he chose to run. But we believe Amanda Chase — a mom, a small-business owner, an experienced conservative activist and volunteer — is best-suited to defeat Martin and serve skillfully in the legislature. She has worked for many of the leading Republicans in central Virginia and knows the political process, though she has not been captured by it. “I understand how it works, and I want to make changes,” she told us. We believe the voters of the 11th District should give her a chance to do just that.