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VA-Gov: Virginia GOP Picks Their Nominee, Trump Gives Him The Kiss Of Death

5 min read

So this happened yesterday:

Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy first-time candidate who walked a line between his party’s Trump-centric base and appeals to business interests, won the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia on Monday. He heads into a general election in one of only two states choosing their governors in 2021, in the latest running of an off-year race often viewed as a referendum on the party holding the White House.

Late Monday, Mr. Youngkin’s last remaining rival, Pete Snyder, conceded the race. “I send my heartfelt congratulations,” Mr. Snyder wrote on Twitter. “He + the ticket have my 100% support.”

The results were tabulated by Republican officials two days after roughly 30,000 voters cast ranked-choice ballots at 39 locations around the state. Mr. Snyder conceded after more than 12 hours of vote counting, in which five candidates were knocked from contention, one by one, and their supporters’ next-choice votes were allocated to others still in the running. In the sixth round of counting, Mr. Youngkin passed the required 50 percent threshold.

“Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond,” he said on Twitter.

Then this happened:

Former president Donald Trump wasted no time weighing in on the Virginia governor’s race Tuesday morning, issuing an endorsement of freshly crowned GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin.
“Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump said in a statement posted to his website.
Trump’s endorsement is just the first sign of the high national profile of this year’s elections in Virginia, which are widely seen as a harbinger of next year’s midterm congressional races. New Jersey is the only other state with a governor’s race this year, and Democrats are so heavily favored there that that contest is not considered competitive.
Trump had said he would endorse whoever won the party’s nomination for governor, and all of the seven contenders seeking the job had expressed support for the former president.

And it didn’t take long for Youngkin to try to distance himself from Trump:

Youngkin, who had never run for office before, pitched himself as an “outsider” businessman who has what it takes to run a state that hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 2009.

At a post-primary launch event Tuesday afternoon in Richmond, Youngkin leaned on his Christian faith and business record, and he promised to lead the state’s post-pandemic opening. Notably, he did not mention Trump’s endorsement — nor did his campaign acknowledge it in its press releases or on its Twitter accounts, where it trumpeted the support of other Republican figures, like RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

He did, however, address the Trump endorsement in a local news interview published later Tuesday night. “I’m totally honored, and I appreciate it this morning,” he told WVEC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Hampton Roads, saying it reflects the party coming together.

Despite Tuesday’s relative silence, Youngkin did seek to align himself with some of Trump’s policies throughout the primary. One of his earliest moves in the race was creating an “election integrity task force” — an echo of Trump’s repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him — and Youngkin wouldn’t explicitly say that President Joe Biden fairly won his election. He pledged to push for a voter ID requirement for Virginia’s elections in his post-nomination speech.

He has also praised the former president’s economic record and ran a campaign ad that featured Trump praising Youngkin during the former president’s trade battles with China. Youngkin also barnstormed the state with conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the closing days of the primary.

Democrats aren’t wasting any time reminding voters that Youngkin is a Trumper:

After years of Democratic advances in the state thanks to suburban voters who adamantly rejected anyone linked to the Trump G.O.P., Mr. Youngkin, 54, a former private equity executive, has warned that “we can kiss our business environment away” if Democrats retain power in Richmond.

During the nominating fight, he criticized the current governor, Ralph Northam, and his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, for creating business conditions that cause college-educated residents (read: suburbanites) to move away.

But even as Mr. Youngkin tries to focus on kitchen-table issues, Democrats signaled on Tuesday they would aggressively seek to fuse the nominee to Mr. Trump, by reminding voters of hard-line positions he took in fending off six Republican rivals — including on voting rights, Medicaid expansion and culture-war topics like critical race theory.

Mr. McAuliffe, the polling leader for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Youngkin “spent his campaign fawning all over Donald Trump,” adding that he would “make it harder to vote” and be “a rubber stamp for the N.R.A.’s dangerous agenda.”

By the way, here’s another example of the GOP Civil War:

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) took a parting shot at the Virginia GOP when thanking her supporters on Tuesday, calling the party’s convention “rigged” for limiting the voter pool.

“While we came up short in yesterday’s rigged convention that allowed only 53k registered voters to choose our next Governor out of 1.9 million Virginians who voted for President Trump; God is still in control,” Chase wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Despite nearly 54,000 Republican voters being certified as convention delegates for the May 8 convention, only a little over 30,000 submitted their ballots. When Republican candidates competed in the 2017 primary for governor, 365,803 total votes were cast, according to the state’s Department of Elections’ database.

While it was the first time Chase addressed the convention after losing out on the Republican nomination for Virginia governor to Glenn Youngkin, it was not the first time she has blasted the state party’s decision to opt for a nominating convention.

Chase threatened to run as an independent, before reversing course, and even sued the Republican Party of Virginia in an effort to force a primary. The lawsuit was tossed out by the judge in February.

Admitting that she wasn’t expecting defeat, Chase shared hopes to hold a “thank you tour across Virginia” after returning from vacation with her husband. Unlike several other candidates who lost Monday, Chase did not mention Youngkin or her support for his bid.

Let’s not take anything for granted and make sure we keep Virginia Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with the Virginia Democrat of your choice and these Virginia Democrats campaigns:

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