State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McClellan responded to comments from her colleague in the Senate and Republican gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase on Monday. In a video first posted on Blue Virginia, Chase refers to McClellan’s role as vice-chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) as a form of racism.
“But I said Jennifer McClellan, who is a Democrat senator who is also running for governor when she announced she was running for governor, she is the vice-chairman…woman for the Legislative Black Caucus,” Chase says in the video. “Do you know what I said after she announced? What every single Democrat would have said about me if I had been the vice-chairman of the White Republican Caucus. I said she will not represent everyone. And I will not be a member of a caucus or a committee that discriminates against people based on the color of their skin. And yet she does. And that’s wrong and I called her out and they wanted me to apologize. I said, no, I will not apologize. She should stop being a racist.”
The stated mission of the VLBC is a commitment to improving the economic, educational, political, and social conditions of African Americans, as well as historically underrepresented groups in Virginia.
“It’s disappointing that Sen. Chase has focused her entire campaign around attacking me and the work of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus,” McClellan said in a statement Monday. “It’s time for every Republican candidate running for governor to call out Sen. Chase’s comments for what they are: racist attacks that Virginians will not tolerate.”
This is not the first time that Chase has attacked McClellan over her membership in the VLBC. “I support equal rights, not special rights. You know, Sen. McClellan, she is the vice-chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. … And I said she will not be a governor that supports everyone,” Chase said last month.
Del. Kirk Cox, another Republican gubernatorial hopeful responded to the statements from Chase in March. “I disagree with those comments. They’re wrong,” Cox said in a statement to Virginia Scope last month. “I’ve worked with the Legislative Black Caucus and understand what they believe in and why they want a voice. Virginia Republicans need to nominate a candidate that will add members to our ranks, not encourage division. We can elect a conservative as our next governor, but we will need to reach every Virginian in order to do so.”
McClellan says that she won’t let comments like these stop her from continuing her work moving forward.
“My campaign for governor is about uplifting all Virginians from every corner of our Commonwealth. That’s exactly what I’ve done in the legislature for 15 years, and as the vice chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus,” McClellan said Monday. “We’ve led on generational change to expand access to health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, reform the justice system, expand access to voting, and create jobs in every community. The bigotry of some elected officials will never hold me back from serving the people of Virginia.”
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