by Brandon Jarvis

A failed Republican primary candidate is throwing his support behind a movement to get him to run a write-in campaign this November after he lost the nomination contest in June. The seat is competitive and has big implications for control of the state Senate and whether or not Gov. Glenn Youngkin can fully implement his agenda.

Matt Strickland says the Republican establishment in Virginia plotted against him and he will no longer be quiet about it by throwing his support behind a movement pushing for him to run a write-in campaign. He lost to state Del. Tara Durant in the June primary by nearly 14 points.

Strickland says the write-in campaign was not his idea but he supports the efforts and is now pushing it hard on his social media pages. “Folks have started a write-in campaign for me for state senate and delegate. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I support it,” he tweeted Monday. “The Republican Establishment accepts millions of dollars in donations from corrupt corporations just as my opponent Tara Durant did. Pfizer and Dominion Energy just to name a couple.”

The idea that Strickland might execute a write-in campaign became evident when a Facebook group named “The Write Matt In Initiative” popped up during the Summer. The group had less than 150 members in early August but does not appear to be public on Facebook anymore.

Strickland accused ‘establishment Republicans’ of lying about him and then telling him after he lost to Durant that he must support the Republican nominee.

“We always blindly support the Republican nominee, and they always screw us over,” Strickland continued. “I will no longer blindly vote Republican. I’ll never vote for a Democrat, but I will most definitely write in a true candidate for The People [from] now on.”

Youngkin endorsed Durant during the primary. Strickland lashed out in an interview shortly after the endorsement by referring to Youngkin as a ‘RINO’ — which stands for ‘Republican In Name Only’ and referring to his failed primary campaign as fighting in a war.

“I’m fighting the war on two different fronts: fighting Democrats and fighting these establishment Republicans in Name Only,” he said to conservative talk radio host John Fredericks in May.

Strickland also believes that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump despite no evidence to show that. “The 2020 election was rigged,” he said Tuesday. “If we had free & fair elections Trump would be President right now.”

While Strickland was quiet about a possible write-in campaign until last week, he continued to rail against Youngkin over the summer.

He constantly attacks the governor for actions that he does not believe are conservative enough — like hosting a group of gay Republicans for dinner.

Youngkin walked the line during his 2021 campaign by being conservative on some issues while not moving too far right and turning off moderate Republicans and Independent voters that are necessary for a statewide win in Virginia. Joe Biden won the state by 10 points just one year prior to Youngkin’s victory.

SD-27 is made up of parts of Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties as well as all of Fredericksburg City. It is not comprised of a heavy far-right Republican base.

According to an analysis from VPAP, Glenn Youngkin won this district by eight points in 2021. However, Democrats won this district by two points during the 2022 federal elections.

It will likely be a tight race that could decide which party controls the chamber. Far-right candidates do not tend to win competitive races in Virginia.

The campaign for Durant’s Democratic opponent, Joel Griffin, believes that a write-in campaign could help them win this seat. “Durant barely broke 50% in Spotsylvania in her primary and a Strickland write-in campaign will be more than enough to doom her in a Biden +5, Spanberger +2 seat,” said Jeremy Levinson, the campaign manager for Griffin. “Joel Griffin looks forward to defending a woman’s right to choose once elected as the next state senator from the 27th state Senate district.”

Stafford County Supervisor Monica Gary is also running for the seat as an Independent. “People have been abandoning the two parties for a long time,” she said Saturday. “Now they are abandoning the system. I believe we should work within it for reforms that restore the voice of the people.”

Durant’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Strickland is putting his beliefs and disdain for Youngkin above the party that he was seeking to be the nominee.

“So be it,” he says about the potential of his write-in campaign helping Democrats win. “Maybe they’ll run us off the cliff at 100mph, instead of 75mph like the Establishment is doing. Then, maybe folks will wake up & get involved.”

Election day is Nov. 7. Early voting begins Sept. 22.

By vascope