Glenn Youngkin’s political future is riding on the November Virginia General Assembly elections, according to a billionaire Republican donor.
“If Republicans win in Virginia, maybe we can talk him into it. He obviously wants to see what emerges, what the state of play is. The money would be there,” the donor, a guy named Thomas Peterffy, told CBS News politics reporter Robert Costa this week.
It’s been known for months that Youngkin, who upset former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election that the Democrat all but handed to the former hedge-fund manager, fancies himself a presidential contender.
The CBS News report is among the first to tie actual money people to having a direct interest in Youngkin, at an interesting time in the 2024 GOP presidential cycle.
What’s interesting about the timing is that no one has been able to emerge from the pack of GOP candidates who have been trying to position themselves as contenders to former president Donald Trump.
Youngkin was reportedly relying on that happening, sitting out the summer and fall walkup to Iowa and New Hampshire as the rest of the field demonstrated various degrees of ineptitude.
It was a gamble, and still is a gamble – Youngkin’s case would obviously be derailed if Democrats take one or both houses in the November state elections.
Democrats currently hold a 22-18 edge in the State Senate; Republicans have a 51-46 majority in the House of Delegates.
Yeah, it’s close.
Millions of dollars are being invested by both parties in the high-stakes state elections, which as elsewhere in our modern politics will come down to a relative handful of contested races in both chambers.
Given the state’s political winds, even if Republicans end up coming out on top, it would almost certainly be by slim margins, which could play in a number of ways for Youngkin as he would seek to begin an 11th-hour campaign for the presidential nomination.
Trump, being Trump, would no doubt come up with a stupid nickname for Youngkin – and actually, he’s already tried one out; if you remember, back in the spring, Trump tested calling the governor “Young Kin” and saying the his name “sounds Chinese,” because the doddering old fool is also an inveterate racist at his core.
The other play here, for Youngkin, could be, Hey, I completed the flip of a blue state that went for Obama twice, Hillary in 2016, Biden in 2020, had two Democratic governors before me, still has two Democrats in the U.S. Senate and a majority of Dems in the U.S. House, vote for me, I can get things done in a 50-50 environment.
A late run presents logistical challenges, most crucially, ballot access; Youngkin would need to ramp up an operation hyper-focused at the outset on getting signatures on petitions in the early primary states so that people could even cast votes for him.
One thing playing in his favor: polls in Iowa and New Hampshire appear to show us that, despite Trump’s big lead in the national polls, there is an opening for somebody.
Those polls have 79 percent of Iowa Republicans and 77 percent of New Hampshire Republicans saying they are considering candidates other than the Trumper.
More troubling for Trump in those states: the number of Republican voters who say they will not vote for Trump outpaces the number who are firmly committed to him.
Basically, Republican voters are hoping for an alternative, and Youngkin might be in position to give them that alternative.
Virginia voters, over the next few weeks, may hold the key here.