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For Virginia GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, post-Trump era starts with big emphasis on ‘election integrity’

GOP gubenatorial hopeful Glenn Youngkin talks with people attending a weekly breakfast for...
GOP gubenatorial hopeful Glenn Youngkin talks with people attending a weekly breakfast for Republicans at Golden Corral in Virginia Beach.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT
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The GOP candidates for governor had just finished introducing themselves to members of the Princess Anne Republican Women’s Club when the forum’s moderator realized she had misplaced her list of questions.

Not a problem, she said: “I do remember one off the top of my head, so we’ll go with the elephant in the room. … The elephant in the room is election integrity.”

Not even Donald Trump alleged voter fraud contributed to his 10-point loss in Virginia last November. But the former president’s baseless post-election allegations have nonetheless dominated debate among Virginia Republicans as they prepare to select their nominee for governor in this year’s election.

The four major candidates in the race have all made election laws a top issue, promising to eliminate ballot drop boxes, scrutinize absentee ballots and reinstate photo ID requirements.

Only one candidate has directly tied their calls for more restrictive voting laws directly to Trump’s fraud claims, which were rejected by every court in which they were presented and contradicted by his own attorney general. Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, held a rally outside the Virginia Department of Elections in November as votes were still being tallied, accusing election officials around the country of participating in the conspiracy.

In January, her colleagues in the state Senate censured her for spreading misinformation and speaking in support of the mob that stormed the Capitol — a rebuke she boasts about on the campaign trail.

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