The newly-crowned Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is attempting to drive the narrow road of appeasing the party base while simultaneously appealing to moderates that are necessary to win in November.
Youngkin made a large part of his campaign for the Republican nomination about election integrity and traveled the commonwealth in the final days before the convention with Ted Cruz, a leader in the effort to oppose the 2020 election results before Jan 6.
Youngkin’s campaign launched an election integrity taskforce in February with the goal of ensuring trust in election results. “I will ensure that all legal votes will count in Virginia,” he said in the announcement at the time. “I hope all Virginians will join my campaign’s official Election Integrity Task Force and stand up for our democracy.”
But now that he has earned his party’s nomination, Youngkin is softening on the issue — slightly.
In an interview with David Westin of Bloomberg News, Youngkin was asked how he would respond when asked if the 2020 election was legitimate. “I’m saying, of course! He’s our president. He slept in the White House last night. He’s addressed a Joint Session of Congress. He’s signing executive orders that I wish he wasn’t signing,” Youngkin said in response.
Election integrity in an integral talking point for Republicans after former President Donald Trump refused to accept the results of his race against Joe Biden. But even as he continues to push unproven election-conspiracy theories, a recent poll showed that more than 80% of Virginia Republicans still have a favorable opinion of Trump — making it necessary for GOP candidates to appeal to his supports in their stump speech.
But Virginia voted for Biden by 10 points and has not elected a Republican statewide since 2009 when Bob McDonnell won the Executive Mansion — hence the narrow road Youngkin must drive down.
Virginia has typically voted opposite of the party in the White House when choosing a governor, but that trend changed in 2013 when far-right candidate Ken Cuccinelli barely lost to Terry McAuliffe, the likely candidate for the Democrats again this year.
Republicans see this year as the best opportunity to reinstate the trend of contradicting the White House.
Youngkin is the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. He has amassed a massive personal fortune and is expected to use that fortune as a weapon in the race.
There were signs in the GOP nomination race of Youngkin preparing for the general election when he did not seek out the endorsements or support of the NRA or VCDL, the two major gun groups in Virginia that have often been a driving force for Democratic activist groups to run against.
Additionally, Republicans elected a latino man for attorney general, Del. Jason Miyares, and a Black woman for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, providng diversity to a ticket that could be the extra boost they need in November.
But 10 points is still a lot to make up and the likely Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe has nearly unanimous name ID after already winning statewide in 2013.
Democrats choose their nominee on June 8 in a statewide primary.
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