On Feb. 1, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R) filed a federal lawsuit against the state Senate and its clerk after she was recently censured by the Senate.
The civil rights complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond.
On Feb. 6, Chase noted that Judge Robert E. Payne had already held two hearings on the case with a trial scheduled for March 17. Chase was hopeful of a good outcome, noting that Payne was nominated to the seat by then-President George H.W. Bush on Nov. 20, 1991. Payne was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 7, 1992.
In a press release, Chase claims violation of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the first as it relates to the freedom of speech and the latter because of a lack of due process.
Chase said the eight items included in the censure are protected free speech and noted that the Senate did not follow its own rules. Specifically, no investigation and report was produced in regard to the eight points and only one reading of the censure resolution was held instead of three.
After a statement by state GOP party chair Dave Anderson that the party may have state committee members decide the nominee, Chase once again raised the possibility that she would run as an independent in the general election.
The committee voted three times recently in favor of a convention, albeit narrowly, but since such a meeting apparently can’t be held due to the state’s social distancing requirements, Anderson suggested a nomination by committee. Another idea is to have an “unassembled” satellite convention on May 1.
Charlottesville businessman Pete Snyder recently joined the Republican race for governor. He and Northern Virginia businessman Glenn Youngkin are vying against Chase, Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Sergio de la Pena of Burke and former Army Ranger Kurt Santini of Bedford County.
The Democratic Party will conduct a primary election on June 8. Declared candidates include former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy of Prince William County and Del. Lee Carter of Manassas.
Ten state legislators who represent parts of Chesterfield continue to disagree on a replacement for retired Circuit Court Judge T.J. Hauler.
Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) said the delegation met twice last week, considered eight candidates and held votes on its first and second choices. “There was a clear winner for both,” he said, but didn’t want to provide the names.
However, Chase said that, once again, the majority of the delegation voted in favor of Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Jayne Pemberton to fill the seat. Dels. Dolores McQuinn (D-Richmond) and Lashrecese Aird (D-Petersburg) voted against Pemberton like they did last year when eight of the 10 members supported Pemberton, Chase said. But Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield) switched and voted against Pemberton, Chase said. Cox and McQuinn did not return phone calls for this story.
If the delegation cannot agree on a replacement, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) could appoint a judge to fill the seat until the next legislative session, upon which the legislature would need to confirm his choice.
On Feb. 1, the Richmond Electoral Board voted 2-1 to fire longtime voter registrar J. Kirk Showalter.
On Feb. 6, Morrissey said he supported the action. “She should’ve been fired years ago,” he said, noting that he received four signed affidavits from people who alleged that Showalter used various racial slurs.
In addition, Morrissey said Showalter was “very dismissive” of former Richmond city council candidate, Amy Wentz, when she had concerns about vote tabulations in her race last year against incumbent Reva Trammell.
One of the eight items listed against Chase in the censure involved her calling the Virginia Democratic Party racist after Democratic officials asked a white Richmond registrar (Showalter) to step down over issues related to management of the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The 2-1 vote was along party lines, with two Democrats voting to oust Showalter after 25 years in the office and the lone Republican voting no.