by Brandon Jarvis

The Republican statewide ticket was together again Monday morning to try and bring back some of the suburban voters they lost in recent years while Trump was president. A big theme of the day was helping the statewide ticket and down-ballot candidates win to try and reverse some of the progressive policies that Democrats have passed in the last two years.

“This is not about one race,” said Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor when speaking to a crowd of more than 300 people at the Dominion Country Club in Western Henrico. “We are all going to stand up and say no more. We are going to elect new leaders and we are going to get Virginia moving again.” 

The energy in the ballroom was high throughout the event as the candidates spoke in front of the crowd. Youngkin said that campaign events have been similar to this one all across Virginia. “There is something special going on. It is real, it is tangible, you can cut it with a knife,” Youngkin said. “Everywhere we go people are showing up in droves.” 

Youngkin, lieutenant governor nominee Winsome Sears, and attorney general nominee Jason Miyares spoke mostly to the core issues that they have been pushing in recent weeks. Opposition to Critical Race Theory (CRT) drew the biggest applause from the crowd of mostly women by far, however. “Hear me right now very clearly, we will not teach Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools,” Youngkin said to loud applause. 

CRT is an academic approach that is centered around the idea that the United States was built on systemic racism. In general, CRT aims to show that racism is the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, instead of explicit and intentional prejudices. Youngkin says he opposes this theory because it could cause children to view other children through a racial lens. “As opposed to working together towards common opportunity, they actually come up with excuses for why they can’t achieve their dreams,” he said Monday.  

There have been no school districts in Virginia that have claimed to be teaching CRT in their system. 

While Youngkin’s policy rollouts have been slow, giving him less to talk about in his stump speech, he makes up for it by taking that time to talk about his opponent, Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe served as governor from 2014-2018 and is seeking re-election this cycle with the full backing of the current governor, Ralph Northam.

Youngkin is tying McAuliffe to everything that has happened in Virginia the last eight years — often saying McAuliffe and Northam have driven Virginia into a ditch. “I will tell you the best jobs program we have in Virginia will be one where Terry McAuliffe doesn’t have a job,” Youngkin said Monday.

McAuliffe is currently favored in the only poll released, but Youngkin is within striking distance — a feat that provides Republicans hope only one year after Trump lost the state by ten points. Youngkin is also drastically outspending McAuliffe in advertising. NBC News is reporting that Youngkin has outspent McAuliffe 40-to-1 in the first three weeks of the general election.

But still, even with momentum, over a decade straight of statewide Democratic wins shows that Virginia’s electorate leans left — making it an uphill climb for even the best Republican candidates to win. If Youngkin is able to pull this off, it would be the Republican Party’s first statewide win since 2009 when Bob McDonnell was elected governor.

Early voting begins Sept. 15 for the Nov. 2 election.

Listen to Youngkin’s full speech from the Dominion Country Club in Henrico below: 

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By vascope