Five of the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor met on stage Monday at Thomas Road Baptist Church, where more than 100 people gathered for a forum hosted by the College Republicans at Liberty University.
Reopening schools, supporting gun rights and rolling back COVID-19 restrictions dominated the conversation.
While the GOP candidates are competing for their party’s nomination, to be decided by a May 8 unassembled convention, they appeared united against the apparent Democratic frontrunner, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is contending with four others for his party’s nomination in a June 8 primary.
John Massoud, GOP chairman of the 6th Congressional District, set the tone of the night with a message to encourage voter turnout in the November general election, one that raised cheers from the assembled audience: to “show up in such numbers that we cram it down their whiny liberal throats.”
Present at Monday’s forum were Sen. Amanda Chase, of Chesterfield; Del. Kirk Cox, of Colonial Heights; former Pentagon official Sergio de la Peña; former think-tank CEO Peter Doran; and former private equity co-CEO Glenn Youngkin. Two candidates who will appear on the ballot were not in attendance: former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson and entrepreneur Pete Snyder.
Chase, who bills herself as “Trump in heels,” said she doesn’t “do COVID,” and that her first moves as governor would mean eliminating all current executive orders, allowing people to “make your face great again, get rid of these masks,” she said.