Richmond Times-Dispatch

Chase takes white grievance to extreme

- Michael Paul Williams mwilliams@TimesDispa­tch.com mwilliams@timesdispa­tch.com (804) 649-6815 Twitter: @ RTDMPW

I’m sure we’re all shocked— shocked! — to find that Richmond general registrar Kirk Showalter is white.

How else do we explain state and local Democrats waiting 25 years to go after her job?

Showalter must have been hiding her whiteness in plain sight, not unlike RachelDole­zal, the erstwhile Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader who passed as a Black woman until she was exposed.

Apparently, in the eyes of state Sen. Amanda Chase, Showalter’s race was an affront to Democrats.

“Make no mistake. The Virginia Democratic Party is racist to its core,” Chase, a Republican from Chesterfie­ld County, wrote in a Facebook post.

“The Democratic Party of Virginia has asked for Richmond’s voter registrar to quit or be fired. They hatewhite people. They want the Richmond registrar to resign because she’s white,” wrote Chase, who is white and seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

The leadership and ranks of state Dems heavily are populated with white people. But “Democrat” apparently has become a dog-whistle synonym for “Black”— not unlike “thug,” “Detroit,” “Philadelph­ia” or “illegal voter.”

Chase must have missed the recent press criticizin­g the registrar’s handling of the election.

Local and state Democratic officials say shedid not comply with the state’s open records laws and new election rules intended to help voters who mailed absentee ballots correct errors. Party officials also question Showalter’s handling of a COVID-19 outbreak in the city’s election office and significan­t correction­s to the vote count in Richmond City Council races in the 2nd and 8th districts.

Chase told the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Andrew Cain on Saturday that “this has become a race issue.” She accused Democrats of “a blatant double standard” in not holding voter registrars ac

countable in Henrico and Chesterfie­ld counties for issues during the election.

Her logic is hard to follow. The Henrico registrar, Mark Coakley, is as white as Showalter.

Showalter, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, said she does not intend to quit. She argued that the election “was managed well under difficult circumstan­ces” and that her office did all within its power to comply with “last-minute changes and additional requiremen­ts.”

As for Chase’s contention about the reason Showalter is under fire, the registrar said: “I would hope that it’s not because of my race.”

In not dismissing Chase’s allegation­s out of hand— several of Chase’s Republican colleagues denounced them— Showalter weakens her case. Having Chase as an ally is not helpful.

It should be noted that Showalter’s predecesso­r, Alice Clarke Lynch, held the job from 1971 to 1995 — a period of Richmond politics noteworthy for its racial turmoil.

City Council elections were suspended from

1970 to 1977 as the courts sorted out the city’s racially motivated annexation of a portion of Chesterfie­ld — a gambit to dilute Richmond’s ascendant Black voting power.

The resulting remedy replaced at-large voting in city elections with nine voting districts. The 1977 election resulted in Richmond’s first African American City Council majority, which elected Henry L. Marsh III as Richmond’s first Black mayor.

During this tumultuous era, the affable Lynch— a Republican appointee— not onlymanage­d to stay out of the political crosshairs but was praised for opening up the electoral process to all citizens, and for her nonpartisa­n commitment to increasing the number of city voters.

Lynch hired the city’s first African American assistant voting registrar. Richmond, to this day, has never had a Black registrar.

Chase has made this sort of blanket accusation of racism before.

She called Gov. Ralph Northam’s intention to remove the Robert E. Lee monument an “overt effort” to “erase all white history.”

Of state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a Richmond Democrat who also is running for governor, Chase posted on Facebook: “She serves as the vice-chair of the Virginia Legislativ­e Black Caucus. One thing you can be sure of — she is NOT for ALL Virginians.”

McClellan, in response to Chase’s latest salvo, said: “Virginians are tired of divisive rhetoric that ignores reality solely for the sake of scoring political points.” Are they, though?

Chase has a constituen­cy, or she wouldn’t be holding office.

She’s a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who called Black Lives Matter “a symbol of hate.” Most recently, Trump has sought to disenfranc­hise thousands of Black voters in cities such as Detroit and Philadelph­ia, in an effort to overturn his defeat by any means necessary. His baseless allegation­s that Democrats stole the election have been parroted by Chase.

If Chase is following the Trump template of white grievance, history suggests she’ll be disappoint­ed in Virginia, where Trump has fared poorly. But she’s still capable of doing damage. These blanket accusation­s of racial hatred are tossing fuel on our divided and combustibl­e electorate.

This form of gaslightin­g can lead to flames.

 ?? JOE MAHONEY/ TIMES-DISPATCH/<!-- P: ICR IMAGE CREDIT--> ?? State Sen. Amanda Chase, seen at a rally this month in support of President Donald Trump, accused Virginia Democrats of “a blatant double standard” in regard to Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter.
JOE MAHONEY/ TIMES-DISPATCH/<!-- P: ICR IMAGE CREDIT--> State Sen. Amanda Chase, seen at a rally this month in support of President Donald Trump, accused Virginia Democrats of “a blatant double standard” in regard to Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter.
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