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by Brandon Jarvis

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has been hitting the campaign trail hard for Republicans in congressional and gubernatorial races. He has provided Virginia’s congressional candidates with a popular figure to help rally the base for election — something they have been lacking during recent election cycles.

Campaign styles in Virginia have shifted drastically since Joe Biden was elected and Donald Trump left office. Between 2016 and 2021, national Democratic figures swarmed into Virginia to help candidates running for office. It was effective until last year when all of the biggest names couldn’t help Terry McAuliffe defeat Glenn Youngkin in the gubernatorial election. Youngkin campaigned largely on his own and flipped a state that had not elected a Republican to statewide office since 2009. Joe Biden won Virginia by ten points just one year prior to Youngkin’s victory.

Now in 2022, national Democratic figures are mostly staying out of Virginia while national Republicans are making their way to big campaign stops in the commonwealth — a rare occurrence during the last two cycles. Vice President Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have visited Virginia congressional districts in recent weeks to stump for the Republican candidates.

President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have not been to the three competitive congressional races in Virginia so far and it appears there are no plans for them to visit prior to election day.

Youngkin, a national figure himself, has campaigned for Republican candidates across the country on numerous occasions in what could perhaps be a strategy to garner support around a possible run for president.

“Youngkin’s many campaign stops across the country signal a clear interest in a Presidential run. But he’s also not neglecting his role as a state party leader, trying to shore up Congressional campaigns here at home,” said Richard Meagher, a political science professor at Randolph Macon College.

The governor has received criticism for his cross-country travels from Democrats, but in the final weeks of the election, he is also stumping heavily for Virginia’s candidates. The most popular figure in Virginia politics at this moment and the leader of the Republicans in the commonwealth has been making multiple stops for candidates each week.

Youngkin campaigned for VA-02 Republican nominee Jen Kiggans on Thursday morning in Suffolk. Youngkin harped on the legislation that he was able to pass during his first legislative session as governor earlier this year. He linked Kiggans to some of it. “She was standing there on the steps of the Capitol when we signed the bill to empower parents to make decisions about whether their children wear a mask or not,” Youngkin said.

“There’s not a lot of evidence that campaign appearances really affect voter choices,” Meagher said. “Still, they may drive enthusiasm among the base, and help Republican campaigns tell a story of change that benefits them – ‘if you like what Glenn Youngkin has done, then you’ll like what I can do’ or something similar.”

More on Youngkin’s campaigning this cycle:

  • Youngkin campaigned for VA-02 Republican nominee Jen Kiggans on Thursday morning in Suffolk. Kiggans is a state senator and is looking to defeat Rep. Elaine Luria (D) next week.
    • Youngkin thanked the crowd for attending on a Thursday morning to watch his campaign speech for Kiggans. he stressed that there are only five days left and encouraged voters to head to the polls early. Youngkin said the road to the majority for Republicans in Congress goes through Virginia.
    • “It’s just like last year,” he said of the feeling in the air ahead of the election.
    • “Jen Kiggans rocks,” Youngkin continued. Youngkin said he locked arms with Kiggans last year to enact parts of his agenda during the legislative session.
    • “She was standing there on the steps of the Capitol when we signed the bill to empower parents to make decisions about whether their children wear a mask or not,” Youngkin said.
    • Youngkin said Kiggans supports law enforcement. “Jen understands,” he said. “If we don’t back them they won’t be there to back us.”
    • “This is an easy one folks and Jen Kiggans is going to do an extraordinary job.”
    • Youngkin then encouraged the attendees to vote now or at least vote early. He asked the crowd to bug their friends to tell them to vote early as well. “If they haven’t voted by next Tuesday go pick them up in your car and take them with you.”
    • Low taxes, a strong military, parents mattering, and standing up for law enforcement are the important issues that Youngkin stressed to the crowd that Kiggans would be on the right side of in Congress.
  • Youngkin then traveled to Warrenton in Northern Virginia to campaign for Hung Cao, the Republican nominee in VA-10. Cao is running against Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D).
    • “This red wave is washing across the commonwealth. I was down in Suffolk this morning,” Youngkin said. “We will be with Hung today. And then we will be with Yesli tomorrow. And then back down to the beach and then back up here and then in Fairfax and folks this is happening. I mean of course when they say Virginia won’t elect a Republican governor, and when they say the tenth congressional district, this is where it all started in the tenth last year — when they say that you can’t elect a Republican congressman, they have forgotten that this is Virginia. I mean we are the ones who actually breathe life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into this nation. And it is happening again. Why? Because we are on the correct side and the right side of all the issues.”
    • After the event, Youngkin said: “Hung is a leader, a servant and someone that doesn’t run from a problem. He will help restore American strength in our economy, at our border, in our communities, and on the world stage.”
  • Youngkin’s appearance with Kiggans on Thursday mirrors his appearances at recent events with other Republicans around the commonwealth.
    • On Tuesday, Youngkin stumped with Vega in Culpeper. “It’s a clear choice,” he told the crowd. “You got Abigail Spanberger on this side. My mother always said if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. And then on the other side, you’ve got Yesli Vega.”
Youngkin with Kristi Noem on Wednesday

Youngkin’s cross-country travels continue as well.

  • On Wednesday, Youngkin campaigned for:
    • Gov. Kevin Stitt and his reelection bid in Oklahoma.
      • Youngkin threw basketballs into the crowd just as he does at campaign stops in Virginia. “You have a leader,” Youngkin told the crowd. “He understands you don’t work for him; he works for the government.”
    • Gov. Kristi Noem and her reelection bid in South Dakota.
      • “What we did last year in Virginia was take a state that everybody thought was blue and bring people together around common-sense solutions to these kitchen table issues,” Youngkin said, pointing to inflation, education and crime.
  • On Monday, Youngkin campaigned for Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor in New York.
    • “I’m here to pass the baton to Lee Zeldin for him to become your next governor,” Youngkin told the crowd in New York. “You all on Nov. 8 are gonna watch something happen. It’s gonna send a shockwave around the world.”
Youngkin with Stitt via his social media
Youngkin with Noem via his social media
Youngkin with Vega on Nov. 1 in Culpeper
Youngkin with Cao on Nov. 3 via his social media

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By vascope