Last Updated on December 14, 2020
Could Jarome Bell be considering a 2021 run for Governor of Virginia? The Hampton Roads conservative has taken swipes at GOP establishment front runner, Kirk Cox, over social media recently and even issued a call for volunteers and team members in “future endeavors.”
“The Jarome Bell team is gearing up for future initiatives in and for Virginia,” the call read.
While Biden-backed former Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that he will seek the Democrat nomination, Virginia’s Republican base, made up largely of grassroots conservatives, has yet to coalesce around a single candidate. Now, with McAuliffe in the race, urgency among Republicans appears to be growing.
After a close 2017 primary contest between Trump-style candidate Corey Stewart and former Enron lobbyist and eventual nominee Ed Gillespie, the Republican establishment, eager to take back total control of the party, has opted to nominate a candidate through a convention format as opposed to a primary, leaving the bulk of the party’s base unable to participate.
When news of the change in nominating format broke, State Senator Amanda Chase, the first Republican to officially declare her candidacy for governor, announced she would exit the race in favor of an independent run. Roughly a week later, she reversed course and is back in the Republican race, currently representing what most see as the only conservative option.
Also in the race is the aforementioned Kirk Cox, a former Speaker of the House of Delegates who boasts a large establishment backing. Cox, who still represents the Richmond-area’s 66th House District, formally launched his bid for governor last month.
Throughout his career in Richmond, Cox has been lauded for his “bi-partisan” efforts and cross-aisle appeal, working in 2018 with Governor Ralph Northam, virtually the entire Democrat caucus, and a small group of Republican lawmakers to ram Obamacare expansion through the Virginia legislature, then controlled by Republicans.
In recent interviews, Cox has indicated that his cozy relationships with Democrats aren’t going away, despite the party’s rapid shift towards the extreme left. In fact, he lists them among his strengths.
“If you’re trying to look for a candidate that has strengths in the suburbs and has a district that’s, once again, the bluest, I think I’m a very good model for that,” Cox recently told the left-leaning Virginia Mercury.
Bell slammed Cox’s establishment support and ties to the left in a recent social media post, asking voters “is Kirk Cox REALLY the guy Virginia wants to lead it? Someone who was there every step of the way as the weaklings in the GOP handed our Commonwealth over to Democrats?”
In the post, Bell included a 2013 headline reminding voters of the role Cox played in passing Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2013 transportation package, which included massive tax hikes that hit the working class especially hard.
Is Kirk Cox REALLY the guy Virginia wants to lead it?
Someone who was there every step of the way as the Weaklings in the GOP handed our Commonwealth over to Democrats? pic.twitter.com/YZEoHzeQ3W
— Jarome Bell (@JaromeBellVA) December 8, 2020
Aside from Cox, Pete Snyder, another establishment favorite who chaired Ed Gillespie’s failed 2017 gubernatorial campaign, is rumored to be seriously considering jumping into the race. Snyder previously sought the office of Lieutenant Governor, losing the 2013 Republican nomination to EW Jackson. Snyder, like Cox, is predicted to benefit from the use of a nominating convention if he decides to run.