A survey for Virginia’s proponents of the Big Lie on the 2022 ballot 

October 13, 2022 12:02 am

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. A pro-Trump mob later stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Eight of the 11 Republican candidates in Virginia running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives this fall are “election deniers,” The Washington Post reported last week. They are among the nearly 300 GOP nominees nationwide competing for the U.S. House, Senate and major statewide offices who contend Joe Biden didn’t win the presidency in 2020. 

I suspect the analysis would’ve uncovered more Republican Party deniers in the commonwealth, but our General Assembly contests aren’t this year. Nor are Virginia’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, up for reelection in November.  

Biden won 306 electoral votes in the presidential contest against Donald Trump (the magic number is 270). Biden’s popular vote totals were 7 million higher than those of his opponent too. Besides, numerous courts and state officials ruled in the Democrat’s favor after Trump’s bogus claims. 

Bupkis, the refuseniks say. They swallow “The Big Lie” that Biden stole the election. 

The Post identified election deniers based on “public statements, social media posts and actions taken by the candidates to deny the legitimacy of the last presidential vote.” Whether these candidates truly believe this garbage, or instead hew to what’s politically expedient, is another story. 

It’s all based on a huge lie by an egomaniac who can’t stand being a loser. Shame on him and his craven enablers around the country. They’re betting Democrats and independents won’t be as ruthless and unhinged as they are. 

“Continuing these lies erodes trust in government,” Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director at the nonpartisan Wason Center at Christopher Newport University, told me this week. The center conducts surveys and political analysis. 

Officials might change how they operate, she added, if an election doesn’t go their party’s way, even if they run a supposedly nonpartisan office. They may call for expensive election audits that aren’t necessary. 

Yet “we have evidence that it has been a trustworthy process,” Bromley-Trujillo said. 

Virginia’s unpersuadables are candidates in safe GOP seats and competitive ones. They include longtime incumbents – who must know better – and would-be congresspeople.  

This upside-down world could no longer be dismissed after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The continuing rejection of facts is an attack on democracy, governance and the will of a majority of Americans and the Electoral College.  

We could face civil unrest if a duly elected candidate doesn’t gain office because of thuggery or political chicanery. The climate for that is even more possible because current nominees who win, as The Post wrote, “will hold some measure of power overseeing American elections.” 

In short, the United States could devolve into a banana republic. Political upheaval might be continuous. Western democracies abroad will wonder what the hell happened.  

That’s why I’ve created this questionnaire for the Addled Eight in Virginia. They’re incumbents Rob Wittman, Bob Good, Ben Cline and H. Morgan Griffith, and House candidates Jen Kiggans, Yesli Vega, Leon Benjamin and Hung Cao.  

I won’t hold my breath waiting for their responses. Unlike them, I’m not delusional: 

  1. For the incumbents: You say the presidential vote was rigged or stolen by Biden. Why, then, didn’t you immediately resign and demand a new contest after you won in 2020? 
  2. For would-be congresspeople: Shouldn’t you welcome do-overs in your nominating contests? Does fraud happen only when you lose?
  3. For state Sen. Jen Kiggans: You won a seat in Hampton Roads by less than one percentage point in 2019. How odd did you feel when your Democratic opponent conceded within two days of the results? Was she a chump?
  4. For all: If injected with truth serum, what would you say about the 2020 presidential contest? Would it jibe with your public pronouncements?
  5. Do you take any responsibility for the fact that an overwhelming majority of Republicans nationwide, an average of 64% over the course of nine polls by Monmouth University since the election, say Biden won only due to voter fraud?
  6. Shelly Simonds, a Democrat, lost a 2017 General Assembly contest that came down to picking a canister out of a bowl. Judges had to assess the validity of some ballots cast for the Newport News seat in the House of Delegates. Would you, facing similar circumstances, spend the next two years whining about the result and causing discord – à la Trump – or instead stay in the background and prepare for a winning campaign later, as Simonds did?
  7. Former President Trump is a serial liar; he spouted more than 30,000 falsehoods while in office. He’s been the subject of lawsuits dating back decades alleging various illegal or unethical business practices. Family-run and other businesses have said Trump or his companies stiffed contractors for work they had done, sometimes leading to the demise of their firms. Why then do you trust Trump’s claims about 2020 – or any of his assertions?
  8. If you cannot discern fact from fiction given the mountain of evidence that Biden won fair and square, why should you be entrusted to analyze issues, pass legislation and impact the lives of millions of Americans?
  9. What’s more important: democracy or being in power?
  10. What will you say to Americans if your continued baseless support of the Big Lie leads to violence, murder and anarchy around the United States?

As I noted earlier, these GOP candidates won’t reply to my survey. 

You, however, should demand answers.  


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Roger Chesley
Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]