(CNN)President Donald Trump won’t be president in 35 days’ time. But there’s ample and growing evidence that the tentacles of his radical political philosophy have crept deep into the heart of the Republican Party — ensuring that even after the billionaire businessman leaves office, his influence on the GOP will remain.
The latest example came Tuesday in Virginia, when state Sen. Amanda Chase, who is running in the open Virginia governor’s race in 2021, declared that Trump should institute martial law in order to stay in the White House.
Wrote Chase on Facebook:
“The American people aren’t fools. We know you cheated to win and we’ll never accept these results. Fair elections we can accept but cheating to win; never. It’s not over yet. So thankful President Trump has a backbone and refuses to concede. President Trump should declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn.”
Flynn, who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser and was recently pardoned by the President after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in relation to his conversations with Russian officials post-2016, has been the most high-profile advocate of a plan by which Trump declares martial law in order to call for a new election.
This is obviously outlandish. And anti-Democratic. And yet, Chase is fully on board — believing, apparently, that this is the way to victory in next year’s Republican primary race in Virginia.
Which is in keeping with how she has positioned herself more broadly in her primary race against state Del. Kirk Cox. (Cox called the martial law proposal “absurd and dangerous.”)
Chase has described herself as “Trump in heels” and, in a recent interview with the Virginia Mercury, she expanded on the traits she shares with the outgoing President:
“I support President Trump. I support his policies and I am similar to President Trump in that I don’t back down. I move forward. I do the right thing that’s best for the people instead of caving in like many weak-kneed Republicans do. I have a backbone and I stand up to the establishment elite, the pay-to-play system in Richmond. Just like President Trump didn’t kowtow to the media or the pay-to-play system. He just did what he thought was the right thing for the people. And on that, we’re very much in line with each other.”
And Chase has been a loud voice — particularly in Virginia — pushing false claims that the 2020 election was somehow rigged. PolitiFact recently gave Chase’s election fraud claims its “pants on fire” rating.
While Chase is seen an underdog to win the Republican nomination — the state party recently opted for a convention, not a primary, which makes her path harder — there’s no question that there is a constituency for her brand of extreme Trumpism. (Chase has said she is more conservative than Trump on the issue of gun rights.)
Even if Chase doesn’t wind up winning the convention, she could well haunt Republican next fall. She has said she will run as an independent in the general election. And if she goes that route, not only will Chase get a full year to voice her Trump-y views all over the Commonwealth, but she could also be a spoiler for GOP chances of winning back the governor’s mansion.
Chase is part of a broader movement of candidate who have fully embraced every aspect of Trump’s philosophy (such as it is) in hopes of scoring electoral success. Reps.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) and Lauren Boebert (Colorado) ran and won as pure Trump acolytes in 2020. And they will join the likes of Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who have aligned as closely as possible with Trump — to the point that the first two are planning an effort to reject the Electoral College vote come January.
Whether or not Trump runs in 2024, then — and he teased the possibility to raise money on Tuesday night — his fingerprints will remain all over the Republican Party through the like of Chase and those who will follow her blueprint in the coming months and years.
As Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday morning: “I think President Trump will continue to have substantial influence on the party … I don’t think Trumpism is going away.”