RICHMOND, Va - In just a matter of months, millionaire businessman Glenn Youngkin went from relative unknown in Virginia political circles to the Republican party’s standard bearer and nominee for Governor this November. Youngkin ran as an “outsider” and thinks his story will help the GOP win a statewide election in Virginia for the first time in more than a decade.
“We were frustrated with where Virginia was going and thought it was heading in the wrong direction under what Terry McAuliffe started and Ralph Northam was continuing. We were also really frustrated with the Republican party and the fact that we haven’t been able to mount a serious campaign to win,” Youngkin said in an interview with CBS 6.
It took less than a day as the nominee for Youngkin to receive the endorsement of the biggest name in many conservative circles: former President Donald Trump, who said he shares similar priorities with GOP nominee.
“Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement! Glenn is running against Bill Clinton’s longtime enabler, Terry McAuliffe,” the statement said.
Virginia Democrats have not yet selected their nominee for the Governor’s race, but polling and analysts suggest former Governor McAuliffe is the front runner.
Youngkin said he is “humbled” by the endorsement by Trump but that his message of “common sense” solutions to big issues reaches beyond the Trump base.
“More jobs, a better economy, maintaining ‘right to work,’ schools that actually teach our kids how to think,” Youngkin said of his priorities. “Oh by the way, having a world-class law enforcement capability that keeps our community safe. These are not Republican issues. These are Virginia issues.”
Virginia Democrats, including the McAuliffe campaign, were quick tie Youngkin to the former President since Trump did not perform well in Virginia.
“Glenn Youngkin doesn’t understand the needs of Virginians because he’s blinded to fealty to Trump,” said Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Virginia voters are very savvy, they’re very smart, very thoughtful. They’re not going to fall for some infusion of money that spews lies and distortions.”
Youngkin already campaigned with Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) leading up to the Republican Convention. Democrats argued GOP convention delegates do not represent the average Virginia voter.
“So this Trump endorsement is going to be the first thing these millions of voters learn about Glenn Youngkin,” said Marshall Cohen, Democratic Governor’s Association.
Youngkin said he feels Virginia has been let down by the policies put in place by Democrats over the past eight years and believes many voters are looking for another option. Youngkin said his campaign plans to reach out to minority communities and women who have been turned off by previous Republican campaigns.
“We absolutely are going to grow our party, this is going to be won through addition and multiplication, not through addition and subtraction. Full stop,” Youngkin said. “I understand what I’ve heard from Virginians, I know how to set a strategy, I know how to execute, and by the way, we’re doing this to win.”
Longtime Virginia political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said he was not surprised by the rhetoric from either party on the first day with Youngkin as the GOP’s nominee, given his political inexperience and wealth.
“The whole question is how will he be defined in the minds of Virginians,” Dr. Holsworth said. “Because he has a minimal record, he has lots of resources, he seems to be a good retail politician: he comes off well on television. I think the Democrats are talking about him as a Trumpeter because they’re a little worried about him.”
Holsworth said hearing Youngkin use phrases like “common sense” to address his viewpoints is a key sign that Youngkin will try to pivot to a message that will capture the attention of moderate or independent voters.
“There’s simply not enough Republicans alone to beat the Democrats in Virginian,” Dr. Holsworth said. “You have to have to do well with the independents, and the independents really don’t want to hear so much about your ideology. They want to hear about what you’re going to do, how you’re going to solve the big issues that Virginia is facing.”
In response to former President Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin that named McAuliffe directly, the McAuliffe campaign released a statement that said Virginia voters rejected Trump.
“Glenn Youngkin is running for Governor to roll back all of the progress we have made over the past eight years. He wants to make it harder to vote, attacks reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights, and is a rubber stamp for the NRA's dangerous agenda,” the statement read.
The Democratic statewide primary is June 8th.