News that Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is meeting with Utah megadonors is only fueling speculation about a potential presidential run. Whether or not the popular Florida governor — known for his strong anti-mask and anti-mandate stances during the COVID pandemic — will actually throw his hat into the ring remains to be seen, yet DeSantis is by no means the only candidate putting out the feelers for a nationwide bid much less rumored to be in the GOP pack.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence is equally putting out feelers among social conservatives as a potential front-runner. Given that most vice presidents traditionally nab the nod for POTUS after their predecessors end their terms — Nixon, Mondale, Bush, Gore, Biden — Pence would seem to be an early favorite.
One name that is making the rounds? Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who was noted at several federal soirees and is drawing the attention of national level donors.
Former Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling cooled to the idea that Youngkin would be pursuing a presidential bid just eight months into his duties as Virginia governor:
I obviously have no idea what Governor Youngkin’s long term political goals may be, but I can tell you this: If he’s contemplating running for President in 2024, that’s a huge mistake.
The cycle just isn’t favorable for a sitting Virginia governor to run for President in the third year of his one consecutive term in office. Every governor who has tried to do this has failed, and his effectiveness and popularity in Virginia has suffered.
Just do your job as governor. Serve out your term. If you do it well, future opportunities will present themselves.
Meanwhile, Norm Leahy writes for the Washington Post how Youngkin may just be sticking to the old aphorism that it is better to be talked about… than not talked about:
It won’t be for lack of ambition, like so many Virginia governors before him. Youngkin might wake up every morning humming “Hail to the Chief” as he stares in the bathroom mirror, but reality has crushed every single one of those momentary reveries.
The odds are too long, the competition — with or without former president Donald Trump in the mix — will be too fierce. And the cost? Youngkin is a wealthy man, but national contests can make chumps of even the wealthiest (just ask former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg about his $900 million flop in the 2020 Democratic primaries).
Instead, the most realistic play for the commonwealth’s tyro is the Senate — a challenge to Sen. Tim Kaine (D) in 2024 or Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) in 2026.
One might add another caveat. Youngkin could be angling for either an administration position or a more realistic — and dare I say more suited — position of Vice President to any future GOP nominee.
Consider the roles and duties of a Vice President.
. . .
…and there you go.
Why wouldn’t Youngkin at least be talked about for a POTUS nod? Or at the very least, a kingmaker position where his nod could persuade Virginians one way or the other as to where Wall Street (lest anyone forget Youngkin’s bona fides) would prefer to see the winds blow?
We have forgotten a few names that are in the hunt for a potential POTUS bid in 2024, namely former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Yet the 800-lb gorilla in the room?
Former President Donald J. Trump, who if he chose to jump into the 2024 primary would most likely sweep the field.
Which is why Youngkin’s positioning on this is more deft than we may suspect. Better to be talked about than not talked about, to be sure. Yet better still to be on the outskirts and courted even at the risk of being made a wallflower.
One note of caution. Youngkin’s accomplishments thus far in a split General Assembly are thin at best. Neither the happy warrior that DeSantis presents nor the principled-yet-calm presence Pence presents, Youngkin’s virtues — the ability to preside calm amidst troubled waters — are not the attributes of a political knife fighter.
In short, Youngkin’s ability to defy definition has only worked insofar as Virginia Democrats continue to identify themselves beyond the pale of common sense. Such triangulation works so long as the Democrats are hung on abortion, CRT, and gender ideology. Thus far, Youngkin has been adroit enough to know what he doesn’t know and allow Speaker Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) to conduct the orchestra.
Biden’s unpopularity is what made the Glenn Youngkin Model (sic) work. In order to build beyond this, Youngkin will have to define himself on an issue that matters to him personally, not just what polls well. In short, we will have to discover what Youngkin is prepared to bleed for, not just what he is willing to refuse to the left. Otherwise, history proves that the Governor’s Mansion is a poor lily pad if one intends to leap to the White House.