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2015-01-14 / News

Chase in the race: Republican operative to challenge Martin

By Jim McConnell
STAFF WRITER


Chase Chase Amanda Chase likes to point out that she’s a wife and mother, not a politician.

Pursuing elected office never occurred to Chase until one Sunday seven years ago. She was sitting in church with her family, listening to a sermon about how God gives people influence for the purpose of serving others, when she first felt that she was being called to run for state Senate.

That Christmas, her husband, Mike, presented her with an unexpected gift. He’d had a bumper sticker printed with the words “Chase for Senate 2015.”

In the intervening years, Chase has been too busy home-schooling her four children, running a small business and helping other Republicans get elected to spend time thinking about her own ambitions.

But after watching state Sen. Steve Martin, who has represented Chesterfield in the General Assembly for 26 years, fail to win the county during a 2013 GOP nominating convention for lieutenant governor, Chase thought about the bumper sticker and eventually decided that 2015 was the right time to challenge him for the 11th District’s Senate seat.

“The lieutenant governor race was a telling sign that Sen. Martin had lost his influence in the county,” Chase said during an interview last week. “I grew up here. I love Chesterfield. My goal is to keep it affordable for working families.”

Because of Chase’s reputation for picking winners at the ballot box, her decision to seek the Republican nomination generated considerable buzz within the local GOP ranks.

Both Commonwealth’s Attorney Billy Davenport and one of his deputies, John Childrey, have endorsed Chase’s campaign. So have former Washington state Sen. Pat Hale, a Virginia native who now lives in Chesterfield, and Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police.

“Steve [Martin] and I have been friends for a long time, but I believe in term limits. The way to do that in Virginia is to elect somebody else,” Carroll said. “Amanda has connections within the state government from her experience working for legislators. She already has the trust and respect of those people, so she’ll be ready to do the job from the moment she walks in the door.”

Chase’s introduction to grassroots politics came several years ago, when she joined a neighborhood steering committee and successfully opposed a zoning case in her family’s Bayhill Pointe community.

“I was amazed at how few people could make such a big difference,” she recalled.

In her first statewide race, she helped Ken Cuccinelli win an election for attorney general in 2009. The victory put her on the political map; her cellphone started ringing constantly with calls from other candidates hoping she’d join their campaigns.

After serving as political director for Eric Cantor’s re-election bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Chase was ready to go home and resume her role as full-time wife and mother.

Mike Chase pointed out that she obviously had a calling for politics and suggested that she start a company to help principled grassroots conservatives run for office.

She took on five candidates the first year, each of whom campaigned on holding “establishment” Republicans accountable for failing to limit the size of government.

“I think some people were taken aback by that,” Chase said. “I was asked, ‘Where’s your loyalty?’ My loyalty is to people, not the party. We have to keep government smaller because less government equals lower taxes.”

Dave Brat hammered home a variation of the “less government, lower taxes” message to pull off one of the greatest upsets in American political history, knocking off seven-term incumbent Cantor in a Republican House primary last June.

Chase, who had taken a break from politics following the 2013 Republican state convention, was running her fledgling financial services company when Brat asked her to lead the transition from the primary to a general election campaign.

Like Brat, Chase’s campaign has received significant support from the GOP’s conservative wing – including endorsements by Larry Nordvig, former executive director of the Richmond Tea Party, and Tom White, editor of the popular Virginia Right blog.

A member of the Chesterfield Republican Committee for the past seven years, Chase also has attended tea party meetings and insisted she feels “comfortable” in both settings.

“I consider myself a unifier,” Chase said. “I think if you concentrate on issues that are important to the people – can I afford to put food on the table for my family? – people will be unified behind you.”

Because of Chase’s intellect and her background as a parent and small business owner, Hale believes she would be an ideal choice to represent the 11th District in the state Senate.

“Amanda is the whole package,” Hale added. “She has sterling character. People respect her. I think she’ll do a tremendous job.”

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