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Virginia Legislative Elections Could Have Major 2024 Implications

Posted on Friday, May 19, 2023
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AMAC Exclusive – By B.C. Brutus

Virginia

With no federal races on the ballot this November, Virginia’s legislative elections will be a useful barometer of America’s political atmosphere heading into 2024 – and could potentially provide a springboard for Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin to launch a presidential bid of his own.

Two years ago, Youngkin’s election in a state Joe Biden won by 10 points the year prior provided solid electoral evidence of mounting backlash against Democrat policies. In particular, Youngkin’s focus on parental rights and opposing Critical Race Theory showed education could be a winning issue for Republicans in a state that had been trending blue in recent cycles.

As the first Republican elected statewide in Virginia since 2009, speculation about a potential Youngkin 2024 presidential bid began virtually as soon as the race was called. The 55-year-old former private equity executive delivered the first major electoral victory for Republicans following Democrats’ sweep at the federal level in 2020, energizing GOP voters not just in Virginia but throughout the country.

Since then, Youngkin has achieved a number of notable successes in the Old Dominion, despite facing opposition from the Democrat-controlled state senate. Soon after taking office, he ended most of the state’s restrictive COVID-19 policies, led a legislative effort to end mask mandates in schools, and signed an executive order banning CRT and other divisive concepts from classrooms. Youngkin also ushered through $4 billion in tax cuts during his first year in office, along with other conservative priorities like expanded school choice.

Youngkin has also dropped a number of hints that he has aspirations for the Oval Office. Last fall, he embarked on a national speaking tour in support of GOP gubernatorial candidates in what many commentators viewed as a clear attempt to raise his profile among Republican voters. Earlier this year he also visited several Asian countries to meet with political and business leaders – a common tactic for presidential hopefuls looking to boost their diplomatic bona fides.

Additionally, a number of Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia super PAC ads ostensibly aimed at helping Republicans retake the state senate in November have had a conspicuously national focus. In interviews, Youngkin has been careful to leave open the possibility of a 2024 run, and he has continued to be a prolific fundraiser despite being term-limited.

However, state legislative victories and overtures to Republican primary voters haven’t yet translated into polling success for a potential presidential bid. Although Youngkin remains broadly popular in Virginia – again an impressive feat given that the state voted for Biden by double digits in 2020 – he has failed to top one percent in most 2024 Republican primary polls.

Those low numbers likely stem in part from the fact that Youngkin hasn’t even announced or provided any real indication that he intends to jump into the race. But if Youngkin does plan to run, he will need some major headline-grabbing win to have any chance in what now looks like a race dominated by Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis (with Trump apparently pulling even farther ahead in most recent polls).

In a brief comment earlier this month, Youngkin may have unintentionally revealed that he hopes Virginia’s legislative elections this fall could be the game changing moment he needs to vault into contention. When asked if he plans to campaign for president “later this year,” Youngkin said “no” – then quickly added that he was “going to be working in Virginia this year.”

Many in the media immediately took that comment as proof that Youngkin wouldn’t be seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But as one local political analyst in Virginia noted, Youngkin only said that he would not be campaigning for president “this year.”

That wording leaves open the prospect of a late Youngkin announcement early next year – one that could be buoyed by an impressive showing for Virginia Republicans in November.

If Youngkin can lead his party to flip the Virginia Senate and hold the Virginia House of Delegates, he could have a compelling argument about his ability to win over Independent and even Democrat voters and lead the GOP to victory after two disappointing cycles. Following Youngkin’s victory in 2021, most national pundits focused on how the race was reflective of backlash against Joe Biden and Democrat failures in Washington. With Youngkin taking a clear position as the standard-bearer for Virginia Republicans this year, Youngkin could be hoping to create a narrative that his leadership ushered in the first Republican trifecta in Virginia since 2001, and that he could deliver similar results for the GOP at the national level in 2024.

It would be a good story to tell, if it happens. Primary voters might then take a serious look at Youngkin, and we would find out how the Virginia governor performs under the glaring lights of the presidential stage.

Youngkin’s potential strategy for a late primary entry also comes with some major risks, however. If Republicans fail to take the Virginia Senate, or worse, lose the House of Delegates, Youngkin would see his 2024 argument collapse. He would also likely find himself unable to pass much of anything in the way of conservative legislation, depriving him of other potential victories to fuel headlines throughout a prospective 2024 campaign.

With the commonwealth’s primary elections still a few weeks away, the Virginia electoral landscape is still uncertain. But if the stars align for Youngkin, the result in November could have major implications for the Republican presidential race next year.

B.C. Brutus is the pen name of a writer with previous experience in the legislative and executive branches.

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

OK RNC tap this for OUR side

RobinMD
RobinMD
1 year ago

Younkin is only a one-time governor (has only been in office a little over two years, and not ready to run for president. Run another term as governor, try to take the senate away from the democrats, and think about the presidency in 2028. The year 2024 is too soon.

Roy
Roy
1 year ago

To me all this is more mental masturbation. All these pundits do is talk a good story, and as usual nothing is ever done . They promise you the Moon, and cannot even deliver a grain of sand.

Rick
Rick
1 year ago

Youngkin doesn’t have the creds to be president. He should try running for Senator from VA.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

My understanding is that the Governor of Virginia is term limited to one term in office. So basically, if Youngkin has any aspirations to stay in politics, which he obviously does, and try for higher office, this is his window of opportunity. Most Governors view their next step up the political ladder as either Senator or President to get a foothold in Washington, D.C..

If Youngkin’s strategy is explicitly tied to flipping the state’s Senate to Republican control, while also retaining control of the House, that is a tall order looking at where a lot of state residents work. Which is in Washington. D.C.. The reality is the northern part of Virginia is solid Democrat, as it serves as the bedroom community to millions of federal employees who all vote Democrat. In their worldview, they likely see continued allegiance to the Democrat Party, even at the state level, as helping to ensure their job security, while also protecting the Democrat agenda. I know that is how it unfortunately works here in my state and the other Democrat controlled states around me, when it comes to state and federal workers and how they vote. So perhaps before we all amped up about yet another potential candidate on the Republican side for 2024, can we hear from some actual residents of the state of Virginia here? Some people with a clear-eyed view of the reality on the ground in that state. Not how they would like things to work out if Democrats would just “wake up”. All in order to get a realistic assessment of whether the scenario the author has laid out actually is grounded in reality and is actually potentially achievable or just another puff piece written by someone who lives inside the D.C. beltway.

Russell P Desilets
Russell P Desilets
1 year ago

I like Youngkin but why do these short time unproven leaders think they have to run for President? People like Youngkin think they are in this love bubble with the American people and don’t see reality. Don’t do it for a couple more election cycles and if you’re for real, the country may elect you.

Ann S
Ann S
1 year ago

Younkin should concentrate on making the Virginia state legislature Republican and stay governor. He is much more powerful that way than running for president.

Old Silk
Old Silk
1 year ago

You just got there. We love your Lt. Governor, but be settled for just awhile.

SnkDrvr
SnkDrvr
1 year ago

I agree stick to running VA!
As far as “the Biden” regime winning VA by 10 pts ?!? or for that matter any state ….. Has the commie election fraud of 2020 been forgotten??!! Trump won ALL the states! It’s all an attempt to muddy the waters and dilute the Massive lead Trump still has.
Don’t be fooled by dictator tactics. We live in a 3rd world banana!!

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