On the topic of the growing GOP presidential field…there are whispers (none dare call them “wishcasting”…yet) that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin may be reconsidering his earlier decision not to run.
Or at least that’s the angle on this Axios piece. Let’s dive into this “scoop” to see what’s what:
What we’re hearing: Some powerful GOP donors, who won’t support Trump but are beginning to be concerned about DeSantis, are encouraging Youngkin to jump into the 2024 field. “He’s reconsidering,” a top source close to Youngkin told Axios. “He’d be in his own lane: He’s not never-Trump, and he’s not Trump-light.”
Let’s stop right there.
First: The Republican donor class, for all its checkbook clout, isn’t the best place to look for sound political guidance. Recall that former President Donald Trump ran the 2016 primary table on these folks against their preferred candidates – among them, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The younger Bush brought a stable full of talent and a $100 million war chest to the 2016 fight and was out of the running after South Carolina.
As for “sources close to Youngkin,” of course those sources will say he’s thinking about a run. It suits their ends to make it so. The problem with breathless, anonymous sourcing like this…it lacks credibility and accountability. Treat all such sourcing, regardless of the outlet or the content, with a heaping grain of salt.
And then there’s this:
A top Virginia GOP strategist told Axios there are “serious discussions happening on re-engaging in the presidential” race. Youngkin faces high-stakes state legislative races in November. So an announcement about a presidential race is likely to wait until right after that, Republican sources said. A senior Youngkin aide told Axios: “If the guy flips any seats at all, it’s proof that his political machine is ready to go.”
Looking past the lazy politi-speak of “flip” (remember, districts are not pancakes or burgers. They are collections of voters who make decisions), does this bold assertion carry any water?
Hardly. It’s true Youngkin is currently focused on trying to help the Virginia GOP retain its narrow majority in the House of Delegates and retake control of the Virginia Senate. Both of those are very heavy lifts post-redistricting. The new House and Senate districts are drawn to be more balanced and competitive. They also shift to represent more of the state’s urban areas – areas that, in recent years, have trended away from the GOP – particularly when Donald Trump was president.
The biggest political test of Youngkin’s nascent political career has always been whether he could shepherd Republicans to House and Senate majorities. Contrary to the anonymous assertion in Axios, winning “any seats at all” is not the bar Youngkin needs to clear. It’s House and Senate majorities or bust.
And I can’t leave the nugget about a Youngkin “political machine” unmentioned.
Virginia has a long, checkered history of political bosses and their associated “machines.” Those earlier machines were almost exclusively Democratic (there was a one, post-Civil War Republican machine, but it quickly foundered) and dedicated to rewarding friends, punishing enemies and excluding Blacks and poor whites.
The use of “machine,” then, is poorly considered. But let’s give those anonymous sources the benefit of the doubt and pretend that Mr. Youngkin has some sort of political operation that could possibly make a legitimate run for the nomination.
It would need to get to work right away. Remember: The first GOP debates are in August. Mr. Youngkin would need to abandon his quest to help the party retake the General Assembly – leaving a sour taste in many local mouths – and start hitting the trail in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And not just a time or two. Youngkin is already behind in money, organization, name ID and much more. Running for the nomination would become his new, full time job.
But let’s assume he rationalizes all that away and makes the leap. Where does Youngkin start?
According to the Morning Consult poll, Youngkin doesn’t register at all.
That could change, of course, if the personally wealthy Youngkin spends a fair amount of that wealth to raise his profile, build an organization and start running a national campaign.
The bottom line: Youngkin could run. But if he wants to be a credible national candidate, he has to start running now, running hard…and leave the Virginia GOP to fend for itself in this November’s elections.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. It originally appeared in American Liberty News