Democrat running for VA governor reacts to racist attack by GOP candidate

EXCLUSIVE: Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan dismisses Amanda Chase's comments about her role in the legislative Black caucus as 'rooted in white supremacy'

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In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan is speaking out after becoming the subject of a racist attack on the Virginia gubernatorial campaign trail this week. 

“It is typical of those who seek to use hatred and fear to gain power, rooted in white supremacy,” McClellan told theGrio. “It’s the same old playbook, and Virginians are tired of it.”

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Jennifer McClellan and Amanda Chase
Virginia gubernatorial candidates Jennifer McClellan (left) and Amanda Chase (right) (Photo: Jennifer McClellan for Governor/AP)

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Amanda Chase, a Republican running for Virginia governor who considers herself “Trump in heels,” lived up to this comparison at a campaign event on Monday. 

At the event, Chase asserted that McClellan would not “be a governor that supports everyone” because of her leadership in the commonwealth’s legislature’s Black caucus.

Soon after the comments were made, a liberal super political action committee, American Bridge 21st Century, circulated a video of Chase making the remarks.

“I support equal rights and not special rights,” said Chase. “Senator McClellan, she is the vice chairman of the legislative Black caucus … we need to stop discriminating against people because of the color of their skin … we need to celebrate diversity but we need to be inclusive.”

Both Chase and McClellan have served alongside each other in the commonwealth’s legislature. Additionally, Chase has been censured for prior comments that resemble those made on Monday. The Virginia Senate concluded that Chase had a “pattern of unacceptable conduct.”

McClellan is one of five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination — former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, Del. Lee Carter and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Among them, she is one of two Black women in line to become the first Black woman governor in the United States. 

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According to McClellan, Chase took aim at her because she fears facing the state senator in a general election. McClellan believes Chase views her as the most likely to advance as the Democrat’s candidate. 

“I’ve got support all over Virginia,“ McClellan asserted. “My endorsements show that, my donors show that.” 

McClellan said her track record in the state senate demonstrates she’s fit to lead the commonwealth. 

Jennifer McClellan
Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Jennifer McClellan. (Photo: Jennifer McClellan for Governor)

In response to Chase’s bigoted comments, McClellan has doubled down on her plans to serve all Virginians. 

Right now, nearly every elected official and candidate for public office is being evaluated on their ability to facilitate racial equity and healing. Following up on the current focus on race in the United States, theGrio asked McClellan what she plans to do to promote equity in Virginia. 

“I’m doing the work to address inequity that affects all communities,” McClellan said. “I will do as governor what I have always done as a person and as a legislator, and that is tell a complete and accurate and true history of our commonwealth.” 

McClellan firmly contends that while she defends her record for working on behalf of all Virginians, she’s focused on continuing to balance her work in the legislature and on the campaign trail. 

“I am a Black woman on the ground, doing the work in the legislature for 15 years and in the community for 30,” McClellan offered.  

Amanda Chase’s campaign did not immediately respond to theGrio’s request for comment.

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