Not Now, Glenn

 

On our first Sunday, after my wife and I moved back to Virginia in late December 2020, we joined friends at their church. It just so happened that the long-standing warden at McLean’s non-denominational Holy Trinity Church was stepping down that day. We were asked if we’d like to meet him.

His name was Glenn Youngkin. “He’s getting ready to run for governor,” my friends said. I was mildly surprised, since I’d never heard of the former Carlyle Group CEO, despite his being one of the most successful business people in the country.

After a brief conversation, the observation hit me: he may be the most talented candidate I’d ever met. And I’d worked in some 35 US Senate and congressional campaigns over nearly three decades, most of them winners.

Youngkin did not disappoint. While trailing by double-digits to former Governor Terry McAuliffe throughout the summer of 2021, Youngkin leap-frogged ahead as critical race theory exploded on the scene, beginning at “ground zero” in Loudoun County public schools. McAuliffe’s famous debate faux pas – “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” – helped catapult Youngkin to an impressive win. Biden’s Afghanistan debacle and declining fortunes provided helpful tailwinds.

Late in the campaign, rumors swirled that McAuliffe’s desired return to the Governor’s mansion was motivated by ambitions to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2024. This memorable radio interview last October 12th by Hugh Hewitt of then-candidate Glenn Youngkin sticks out:

HH: Yeah, that’s like the nightmare bridge to go over, and I don’t know their names. They’re all bad. But that one’s the nightmare. Last question is political. I had a question yesterday I hadn’t anticipated. Some people believe Terry McAuliffe is running for president, that he thought he’d get a pass back to the statehouse, and he’d be in line to replace Joe Biden. Does that explain his lethargic, I mean almost arrogance defines his campaign? Is it because he thought he would be running for president in three years?

GY: Well, I’ve heard that, I’ve heard that as well. You know, at the end of the day, I’m running for governor of Virginia because I want to go work for all Virginians and get our cost of living down, and get our jobs machine cranked back up and fix our schools and make our community safe. No one can figure out why Terry McAuliffe is running, and he probably does have higher office ambitions, which are not going to work out for him. And as Virginians come to the polls, they’re really demonstrating they want a governor who’s going to go work for them and be focused on Virginia, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Now, reports are that Youngkin is contemplating a race for President in 2024. From the Washington Post:

RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin flew to New York last week to meet privately with GOP megadonors in Manhattan, a move that underscores recent hints that the Republican is considering a run for president in 2024.

The day-long visit, which was not listed on Youngkin’s public calendar and included a trio of national TV interviews, comes as the new governor prepares to headline his first out-of-state political event since taking office, with an appearance next week in Nebraska. He also has begun speaking more often about the needs of “Americans,” not just “Virginians,” and has subtly changed how he answers questions about whether he will seek the White House.

Youngkin, a multimillionaire and former private equity executive, used to respond that he is solely focused on his new job in Virginia. More recently, he has begun saying he is “humbled” that so many people “request” that he run.

“I am always humbled by this request, but we have a lot of work to do today in Virginia,” Youngkin told Brian Kilmeade last week, as the “Fox & Friends” co-host queried him about a run during an interview in Richmond. But when Kilmeade pressed him on whether he’d made a decision, Youngkin seemed to acknowledge that he was actively considering a bid, saying, “I have not made a decision yet.”

Hewitt, a friend and fellow Virginian, read the story and devoted a segment of his estimable radio show Thursday morning to audience reactions. No callers were from Virginia, and the others were open but skeptical of Youngkin, relatively unknown outside of his Commonwealth, running for President.

To be sure, the political neophyte enjoyed considerable if measured success during his first legislative session as governor. From an Associated Press report upon Youngkin signing the state’s new two-year budget:

“The freshman Republican governor claimed a series of budget victories to a crowd of invited guests at the Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market store in Henrico County (Richmond), including $4 billion in tax cuts, $400 million to increase salaries for law enforcement officers, and $100 million to expand the type of institutes of higher education that can partner with K-12 systems on so-called lab schools, an initiative the Youngkin administration says will help foster education innovation.

“Friends, we are getting it done together,” Youngkin said to loud applause from the crowd.

The budget cuts include one-time tax rebates of $250 for individual filers and $500 for couples, the elimination of the state’s 1.5% share of the grocery tax and a nearly 80% increase in the standard deduction for income tax filers. Youngkin said the tax cuts will mean a savings of about $1,100 in the first year of the two-year spending plan set to take effect on July 1.

The victories are impressive given split partisan control of Virginia’s legislature, with Republicans narrowly leading the House, while Democrats – who were not on the ballot last November – control the State Senate by one vote. One can imagine the mischief many Democrats would cause leading up to the 2023 election while Youngkin is galavanting between Iowa, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

The entire State Senate and House are up for election in November 2023 – just weeks before the Iowa caucuses and a slew of early state primaries for the presidential nomination are scheduled to begin. In Virginia, governors cannot run for a second consecutive term.

Former Gov. Doug Wilder co-chaired Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s transition team

Youngkin is not the first Virginia Governor to explore a presidential race. In 1991, 15 months into his term, then-Gov. Doug Wilder, the nation’s first Black state chief executive, launched an exploratory committee for President. It lasted 10 months as he withdrew the following January. He cited Virginia’s budget woes as the reason.

My governor is welcome to travel outside the state – he’s headed to Nebraska soon to speak to its Republican Party – or create political action committees, fundraise, and campaign for 2022 candidates across the country. I’m happy to support his flying overseas to attract business investment.

But I don’t think he should run for President in 2024.

First, Youngkin needs to finish the job he started. He would have to begin assembling a team and launching his campaign right after the November congressional elections, just a year away from his own election.

Second, the largest impediment to his agenda in Virginia is a Democratic-controlled State Senate that is up for election in November 2023. Youngkin needs to invest and expand his considerable assets to win GOP control. It may be possible to run for President and win an off-year election, but the first makes the second more difficult.

Third, unlike Democrats, Republicans already have a deep bench of outstanding and accomplished potential candidates – including current and former governors – already in the queue. Not to mention a couple of current US Senators who ran last time. Most recent successful presidential candidates usually win on their second or third tries (there are exceptions, of course), since there’s nothing quite like a race for President. That experience matters.

The Democratic bench is a cavalcade of state and national failures, marked by delusion and demonstrable incompetence. Spare us.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, whoever wins in 2024 – almost certainly to be a Republican – will inherit a horrific mess, perhaps the worst in American history, after the malign incompetence of the Biden-Harris debacle. Youngkin may have the skill set for the challenge along with requisite international and domestic political chops, and the ability hit the ground running. An international businessman and, thus far, successful governor, may be up for that challenge. But we also have experienced and talented leaders with recent and real-world experience, including with the federal government, who may be better suited. Aside from the 800-pound gorilla in the proverbial room, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes to mind, especially if world affairs continue to spiral. There of course are others. A certain Florida governor running for reelection comes to mind.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle Sears

Of less concern to me is Youngkin leaving early as governor. He would be succeeded by the impressive Winsome Earle Sears, the GOP Lieutenant Governor. A solid conservative popular with rank and file conservatives, the Jamaican-born former US Marine would become the nation’s first black female chief executive. She would still be eligible to run for a full term in 2025.

Glenn Youngkin very well could be President one day. And if he’s my nominee in 2024, I’ll enthusiastically support him. But not now, Glenn. Finish the job you were elected to. There’s much left to accomplish between now and January 2026, when your term ends.

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There are 7 comments.

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  1. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Exactly.  He needs to do his part (which is considerable) to keep Virginia a solid Red state for years to come.

    • #1
  2. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    I got this, Glenn.

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Mark Warner is up in 2026.  Straighten out Virginia, Glenn, and then go for that.

    • #3
  4. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I got this, Glenn.

    I’m good with Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin.  I prefer Youngkin.  But, if Trump runs, I will go immediately to the strongest challenger who I think is DeSantis, not who I might like the most, as Trump is an existential danger to the Republic and Republican Party.  

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I got this, Glenn.

    I’m good with Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin. I prefer Youngkin. But, if Trump runs, I will go immediately to the strongest challenger who I think is DeSantis, not who I might like the most, as Trump is an existential danger to the Republic and Republican Party.

    It’s unfortunate that, once again, you’ve chosen to pollute a thread with irrelevant anti- Trump nonsense.

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I got this, Glenn.

    I’m good with Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin. I prefer Youngkin. But, if Trump runs, I will go immediately to the strongest challenger who I think is DeSantis, not who I might like the most, as Trump is an existential danger to the Republic and Republican Party.

    Please stop, Gary.  Do you know how many members almost never visit the site anymore because they are sick of every topic being turned into a pro- vs anti-Trump thread?  I appeal to you to resist your impulse to bring up Trump at every opportunity.  I would say the same to the people who do this from the other direction, as well.

    • #6
  7. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    • #7
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