FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Virginia's Republican candidates for governor touted plans to reopen schools and lift pandemic restrictions as they made videotaped pitches to the tens of thousands of party delegates who will choose a nominee at a May 8 convention.
Pandemic restrictions on mass gatherings have prevented the GOP from holding a traditional convention. So the party has instead opted to hold an “unassembled convention” in which delegates who preregistered to participate will cast ballots at more than 30 locations to choose a nominee.
The convention will use ranked-choice voting to more closely mimic the balloting at a traditional convention, where the field is winnowed in successive votes until one candidate gets a minority.
And because the candidates won't be able to make traditional convention speeches to assembled delegates, the GOP arranged for candidates to submit videos touting themselves on the party's website, which were posted Saturday night.
In a party where former President Donald Trump still looms large, only two of the four leading candidates even mentioned Trump in their speeches. Businessman Glenn Youngkin included a single reference to Trump, saying that “President Trump taught us a lot” and crediting him for building “a rip-roaring economy.”
State Sen. Amanda Chase made a single reference to her nickname as “Trump in heels,” and her endorsement from Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The candidates touted similar issues, including gun rights and opposition to liberal education reform.
Youngkin, a founder of the Carlyle Group investment firm making his first run for political office, touted his resume and his religious convictions.
Chase, unlike the other candidates who produced glossy political ads with musical scores and slow-motion videos, posted simple video taken on the Capitol grounds with what appeared to be a cellphone camera. She highlighted her conservative record in the state Senate.
Former House Speaker Kirk Cox highlighted his battles in the General Assembly against Democratic governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam.
Businessman Pete Snyder's video cited his endorsement from former gubernatorial nominee and Trump administration official Ken Cuccinelli.