Independence of candidate Virginia GOP from Trump under debate
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) – While Glenn Youngkin was looking to return to the political center after winning the GOP nomination for governor of Virginia, Donald Trump has made things a little more difficult by giving the candidate a big hug.
“Glenn is pro-business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-veteran, pro-America, he knows how to blow up the Virginia economy, and he has my full and total support!” Trump said in a written statement released the day after Republicans declared Youngkin the winner at their May 8 nominating convention.
Republicans in Virginia chose Youngkin, a political newcomer, over six rivals. In doing so, they snubbed the most overtly pro-Trump candidate, Senator Amanda Chase, who happily accepted the nickname “Trump in heels.”
Chase finished a long third.
Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia who is now president of George Mason University, said Youngkin’s appointment shows Republicans in Virginia were more concerned with eligibility than loyalty to Trump.
“It’s not that he threw Trump under the bus, but there were other candidates who ran campaigns that focused only on Trump, and they lost,” Davis said. “I think Youngkin is in a good position to be his own guy.”
Davis also pointed to the appointments of Winsome Sears as lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares as attorney general as proof the Republicans were focused on winning in the fall.
“They have a bazillionaire, a black woman and a Latino at the top of the bill,” he said. “It’s even hard to put that together in a back room. It’s a very strong ticket and it puts a lot of pressure on Democrats. “
Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of Virginia, admitted that Youngkin was not the most pro-Trump candidate in the field, but said that Youngkin had always bonded too closely with the former president to be viable in general elections in a state. where Trump is deeply unpopular with moderates and lost 10 points last year. He described the GOP candidates as “Trump-y, Trumpier and Trumpiest”, with Youngkin as the “Trump-y” candidate,
Sabato said people who knew Youngkin well told him at the start of the campaign to expect Youngkin to position himself as a moderate.
“It didn’t turn out that way,” Sabato said. “I understand they thought they had to do it to win the nomination, when it turns out they didn’t really do it. … But now he’s stuck with the positions that he took and the approvals he received.
Sabato said not only was Trump’s endorsement a kiss of death in a general election, but Youngkin’s decision to campaign with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the days leading up to the nominating convention is equally unattractive to the political center. Sabato has said that while Youngkin will try to get back to center, Democrats won’t let that happen.
“Most people still don’t know who Youngkin is, can’t pronounce his name, and don’t know anything about him,” Sabato said.
He expects the campaign of Terry McAuliffe, the frontrunner of a five-candidate Democratic primary to be held next month, to define him as a Trump loyalist before Youngkin can define himself.
Indeed, McAuliffe’s campaign jumped on Trump’s endorsement, in which Trump went out of his way to shoot McAuliffe, calling him a “Clintons bagman.”
“Glenn Youngkin spent his campaign adoring Donald Trump, and now Trump has returned the favor by fully supporting him,” McAuliffe said in a statement released after Trump’s approval.
Youngkin, for his part, sought to respond to criticism that he refused to recognize the legitimacy of Biden’s victory. His campaign circulated an excerpt from an interview with Bloomberg Radio in which he was asked if Biden’s victory was legitimate, and Youngkin replied, “Of course! He’s our president. He slept in the White House last night. He addressed a joint session of Congress. He signs decrees that I would have liked not to sign. So let’s look ahead and just recognize that what we need to do is lead. “
Youngkin was more circumspect during the primary; He made “electoral integrity” a major issue in his campaign, which many saw as a nod to Trump supporters who mistakenly believed their candidate had been cheated. In a March interview with The Associated Press, Youngkin compared the Republican’s concerns about the 2020 election to those raised by some Hillary Clinton supporters after her narrow loss in 2016.
“This is an issue that has been raised by both sides for 10 years,” Youngkin said.
As for Trump’s endorsement, Youngkin said he was “honored” to receive it.
Youngkin and the Democratic candidate will face each other in November in the country’s only free seat race for the country’s governor this year. Republicans haven’t won statewide in Virginia since 2009, but the GOP generally does well in the years following Democratic presidential victories.
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