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Glenn Youngkin: The new face of the Virginia GOP

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin. Photo: Twitter

Glenn Youngkin, who is lo-ho-ho-ho-oaded, is the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, at the end of a process that worked out about as well as it could for the Virginia GOP, considering.

“I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me. Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond,” said Youngkin, who emerged from the weekend Republican Party convention as the nominee for governor.

What you need to know about Glenn Youngkin: well, for starters, he ain’t Amanda Chase, which is the good news for Republicans with an eye to the fall.

Chase, the Chesterfield County state senator, was by an order of magnitude the Trumpiest of the candidates in the field, and would have been an easy target for Democrats in a state that dealt Trump a 10-point loss in the 2020 presidential election cycle.

Chase has repeatedly signaled that she would consider running as an independent if she failed to get the nomination, echoing Trump in questioning the legitimacy of the GOP nomination process basically from the get-go, but the chatter on the interwebs this morning is that she may stand down now that Youngkin, who ran as Trump Lite, is the nominee.

What you can expect from Youngkin on the Trump issue: equivocation.

He’s sidestepped questions on Trump with a litany of word salads, but he’s also made it a point to send out dog-whistles to the Trump set, launching an election integrity task force, campaigning with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a top Trump ally.

Oh, and then there’s this Youngkin campaign ad.

So, he ain’t Amanda Chase, but, oh, yeah, Democrats are going to play the hell out of this.

“It’s no surprise that a party that nominated their statewide candidates in a closed-door convention would nominate an candidate with a campaign built on attacking voting rights,” said State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, one of the three top contenders for the Democratic Party nomination for governor.

“Glenn Youngkin’s Trump-style politics have no place in the highest office in our Commonwealth. After the generational progress we’ve made in the General Assembly, Virginia cannot move backwards,” McClellan said.

“For the past year, Virginians have witnessed Republican candidates fawn all over Donald Trump, parrot his dangerous and racist rhetoric, and fully embrace his extreme, right-wing agenda. Now, Glenn Youngkin has paid enough to purchase the Republican gubernatorial nomination so he can run Donald Trump’s dangerous playbook here in Virginia,” said Terry McAuliffe, a former governor, and the front-runner in the Democratic race.

For all the talk of his money, Youngkin’s personal story is compelling. Yes, he’s worth $200 million, made $60 million in his last three years at Carlyle, before retiring last year to put his energies toward the run for governor, but he comes from not much.

Youngkin tells the story of his humble upbringing on the trail, of how his father lost his job when Youngkin was in the seventh grade, how he worked as a dishwasher at a diner in high school, went to college on a basketball scholarship at Rice University, where he averaged 1.4 points per game, on 30.4 percent shooting from the field, and 21.4 percent shooting from three, in his four seasons, from 1985-1989.

Forgive me the detail. I’m also a basketball stats nerd.

Without the scholarship, Youngkin tells folks at campaign rallies, he wouldn’t have been able to afford college.

“That was my ticket,” he says.

The pull yourself up by your own bootstraps tale should sell well in rural and exurban Virginia, which combined with his personal wealth and access to big-money donors makes Youngkin a serious candidate – unlike Chase, who would have been the GOP’s Creigh Deeds, and forgive me, Creigh, for using your name that way, but it would have been a Deeds-like landslide for the Democratic nominee feasting on Chase and her spring, summer and fall of gaffes.

A Pete Snyder nomination would have brought its own set of problems: a Chase third-party challenge from the right, for starters, and millions of dollars in TV ads casting him as a RINO, splitting the Republican vote in a way that might have been an even bigger disaster for the GOP.

Youngkin is legit. He has his own money to spend, access to untold millions more when he needs it, a backstory that will sell to the base.

Democrats are going to have to run hard, energize their voters in the Crescent, in NoVa.

The Trump tie will make it hard for Youngkin to win, ultimately, but it’s going to be a dog fight this fall.

Story by Chris Graham


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