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Youngkin, incredibly, thinks he can get Democrats to work with him on abortion ban

Chris Graham
glenn youngkin
(© lev radin – Shutterstock)

Glenn Youngkin doesn’t get it. Todd Gilbert, the lame duck Virginia House Speaker, emphatically doesn’t get it.

Virginia voters signaled on Tuesday that they’re not on board with the MAGA-fication that the likes of Youngkin and Gilbert were promising to unleash in the next two years.

And yet, they’re still trying.

The message was sent. It still needs to be received.

Chris Graham on Virginia politics

“The fact that Virginians voted to reject extremism, to protect women’s health care choices, to protect your right to vote, to protect that we ought to have sensible gun laws, was a great outcome on Tuesday night. The fact that for the first time in some time, actually, the Democrats once again control the Senate and the House, I think is a real step to make sure that Virginia keeps moving forward,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told reporters on Thursday.

Warner, a former Virginia governor, was among those who played a big role in helping tip the scales for Democrats, two years after Youngkin led a Republican sweep of the three statewide offices, and a GOP takeover of the House of Delegates.

Youngkin, midway through his lone four-year term – Virginia governors can’t run for re-election – did his Trump-level best to undo what his Democratic predecessors, Ralph Northam and Terry McAuliffe, had accomplished in the previous eight years.

Among the lowlights, the red-vested one moved to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state compact aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector, in addition to taking aim at diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in state government that included his appointment of a fast-food restaurant manager to head up his renamed Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion office.

What turned the midterm state elections was the push from Youngkin and Republican lawmakers on abortion. Youngkin made it clear that he would sign any legislation limiting abortion rights that would make its way to his desk, even as he claimed to support only a slight rollback, with a ban on abortions at the 15-week mark, except in cases of rape or incest.

Voters saw through the doublespeak from Republicans.

“Two years ago, a slim majority went on a Tinder date with Glenn Youngkin. And now are sorry that they swiped right,” said Susan Swecker, the chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, in remarks to reporters after a press conference held by Youngkin on the steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Youngkin, incredibly, seems to think that he can still swing a deal with Democratic majorities in the House of Delegates and State Senate to enact the abortion restrictions that just sent his party to the back bench in the Capitol and put the kibosh on his longshot presidential aspirations.

“Abortion is potentially one of the most difficult topics in Virginia and across the nation,” Youngkin said on Wednesday. “And my hope is, continues to be, we can find a way to come together as Virginians and lead.”

Gilbert, the soon-to-be-deposed House Speaker, meanwhile, went full nuclear meltdown in his post-election statement.

“In the end, our focus on better schools, safer communities and lowering the cost of living couldn’t overcome a dishonest Democratic focus on a lone issue,” Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, said in the statement. “Now, our Republican Caucus will again assume the role of the loyal opposition, working with Governor Youngkin to hold the line against the worst left-wing impulses of the incoming Democratic majority and ensure that common-sense ideas aren’t forgotten.”

Guys like Gilbert don’t get it, that the reason they’re out of power now is that voters decided to hold the line against the worst right-wing impulses of MAGA Republicans.

“They watched Republicans throw overboard a Speaker with no plan B, and then essentially have to shut down Congress, the House of Representatives, for three weeks as they reorganized. I think a lot of Virginians look at shutdown, default, blockading military nominations, a dysfunctional House that throws a Speaker overboard, and they decided Republicans and their agenda is scary,” said U.S. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who like Warner is also a former Virginia governor.

“I think the craziness of the House, the extreme positions of the MAGA wing, frightened Virginians,” Warner added. “And the truth is that even if some members of the General Assembly, and even the governor, were trying to present, you know, moderate faces, they’ve seen that this right-wing extreme group, which drives the bus now here in Washington, where, unfortunately, moderate Republican senators, moderate Republican House members, are constantly cut off at the knees. People across Virginia didn’t trust that a complete Republican control in Richmond wouldn’t lead to the same kind of extreme positions that you see coming out of the House of Representatives at this point.”

It was telling watching the Youngkin who, on Tuesday, was all over Fox News talking up the pending legislative victories that would pave the way for sweeping change in Virginia, was, a day later, trying to talk compromise, hat in hand.

“We are a state that is very comfortable working together, working across party lines to get things done. I look forward to working with the House and Senate going forward,” Youngkin said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].