Hope. It’s not a word that young Virginia Republicans have gotten to use for most of their lives. In fact, for my good friends in the College Republican branches, its a word we’ve never really gotten to use. Most of us started to be involved, at earliest, in 2017 – the year Ralph Northam blew out Ed Gillespie and the party lost nearly all of it’s Northern Virginia-area delegate seats. In 2018, the party nominated Cory Stewart for the Senate election. Stewart, who ran on keeping Confederate monuments up, lost by 17 points. 2019 saw the party lose another six delegate seats and two in the state senate – that lost us the majority in both bodies.
2020 wasn’t much better. Former President Donald Trump and Senate nominee Daniel Gade both lost by double-digits. But we thought that 2021 was maybe a turning point. After dealing with what seemed like another state party screw-up in our nomination convention, we were given a beacon of light as young Republicans in Virginia: Glenn Youngkin, an outsider untainted by previous Virginia GOP infighting. Someone who had actively tried to recruit college and young Republicans to his campaign. Someone who had the personal wealth to deal with the McAuliffe machine. And at first, it seemed to be working. Limited public polling showed him within striking distance. But after July, it seems clear we were given a paper tiger.
Youngkin has seemingly stopped listening to his advisors from Axiom. Considering he’s given them well over $300,000 according to VPAP records, that seems like a good way to burn money. And it also explains the messaging path Youngkin has been on recently. Instead of taking what would likely be the advice of his advisors to focus on the economy and rebuilding from COVID, Youngkin has gone the complete other direction.
This past month, Youngkin has been on an “election integrity” kick. From being recorded suggesting that Trump could “maybe” be reinstated by the courts (newsflash, he can’t), to attending an election integrity rally at Liberty University that was closed to the press. The Liberty event was so closed that Youngkin’s staff didn’t even post a thing on social media about it. In a state that President Biden won by 10 points, there was no such thing as election fraud in Virginia. Trump just got his butt handed to him in the state thanks to losing the suburbs of the state by massive margins. Messaging on “election integrity” in a general election won’t win him the voters he needs, and his recent focus on that topic shows that he may be listening more to his billionaire buddies than his advisors.
That’s a massive problem for Virginia Republicans. Not only does that mean there has been no consistent messaging, but it has dragged down some of our lower ballot campaigns as well. It shows something that both Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares went to door knock with Harold Pyon in the competitive 40th district instead of joining Youngkin at Liberty. The groups are not united, and its a massive problem for the campaigns as a whole that’s been started by Youngkin.
The issues with the past month are not just limited to Youngkin himself. There are issues inside his campaign as well. Rumors of sexism and issues of keeping paid staff have come up from underground this past month. Not only has the campaign lost double digit-numbers of staffers, several of them claimed that senior staff mistreated women.
A now-former Youngkin staffer I spoke to mentioned a time where a friend of hers was “screamed at and treated like trash” by a district director. That staffer, who is a woman, is no longer with the campaign. The director was also reportedly moved positionally in a reshuffling. The staffer I spoke to also said she was mistreated and yelled at by other members of the campaign’s leadership. While this is only the events of two now former staffers, it starts to show a pattern: that the deluge of staff may be in part, due to mistreatment of female staffers on the campaign. This needs to be fixed rapidly if Youngkin is to have a stable campaign.
There have also been criticisms that Youngkin’s hiring practices have brought in too many out-of-state individuals. Critics inside GOP camps believe that Youngkin’s people don’t know Virginia well enough to run a winning campaign there, and it’s showing in his messaging. Some have also complained about the campaign structure of hiring on a county-by-county basis. This means that instead of running an area or a group of counties, one person is the director of one county. This has led to miscommunications and issues around the staff, as a clear, cohesive message is unavailable to the staff.
Youngkin is Blowing It
It’s important to put out that in publicly-released polls so far, Youngkin has only been down by five points at most. That’s not an insurmountable margin, but it’s why I’m personally so frustrated as one of those young Virginia Republicans. Youngkin was given all the keys to the castle, and he had an opportunity to run a strong, excellent race.
If he wants to win, Glenn Youngkin needs to get his campaign in order, or else he is going to get rolled come November. In May, Youngkin made Virginia Republicans believe in him. Now, he needs to do it again.
Youngkin also needs to say he will support the Second Amendment! I know he is not into guns & he doesn’t talk about it so it shows but he needs to talk about it because Virginia is definitely a Second Amendment state! There is going to be a battle if screwball McAuliffe wins & they try to take everyone’s guns! There are plenty of things to talk about that the Democrats have screwed up, including the CRT in schools, Second Amendment, improving our police, and bringing businesses back into the state to improve the economy – he doesn’t need to talk about election integrity (which I won’t go into here)!
I don’t know why you think Youngkin isn’t into guns. He certainly is and he’s pro 2nd amendment.
Please tell me why you think he is Pro-gun? He is Pro-Constitution but on the two times I have seen him speak & someone in the audience asked him questions about the 2d Amendment & whether he would try to restrict certain guns – he answered he would defend the 2d Amendment – he did not respond to specific guns question – I’ve heard him twice and neither time does he bring up the 2d Amendment unless the question is asked directly.
Lifetime member of the NRA. Guess you did not get the mailer.
Youngkin’s public pronouncements about education have been pretty weak with little vision. Yet education, especially K-12, is important to voters, especially in Northern Virginia suburbs. Higher standards though sounding good has little evidence to support their effectiveness in raising student achievement. Better to promote policies that help students exceed standards than to impose new ones or return to old ones. Innovation schools sounds interesting, but how and with whom would he develop them. Banning CRT in public schools is essential, but what would Youngkin put in its place to improve race relations and becoming intellectually and emotionally competent to deal with controversial social health issues? While many schools realize that what they were doing before Covid-related school closures and reliance on distance education wasn’t terribly effective, exactly what would Youngkin recommend to recover lost learning and re-inspire returning students?
Youngkin might also call out both the current state and federal administrations for their lies and cover ups. Both administrations have been miserable failures, whether it’s the economy, health, safety and security, race relations, or immigration. His campaign videos need to be more hard-hitting to hold democrats accountable for poor judgment that has had terrible consequences for most people.
Youngkin has said he will remove CRT — a subject I heard was against the Constitution & was outlawed in Ohio by a Federal Judge – he said CRT is calling all whites racist & the Constitution doesn’t work that way; all things have to be proven & not all whites are racist so the judge ruled against it as unconstitutional. Youngkin said he would bring back history and math & advanced math to get the students learning – I can’t remember what else he said. I agree 100% with your last paragraph – it was McAuliffe that lowered our achievement levels & I think they should come back up – after all, 88 schools were not certified because of the students lower grades.
Reply to Barry Stern – I agree with almost all your comments, but since a Judge in Ohio has ruled that CRT is illegal as far as our Constitution is concerned with regard to education (it seems CRT pronounces us guilty of racism which isn’t true of everyone that is white) – the judge said that is against our rulings in court so, although Youngkin has made is clear he will ban CRT & bring math & history back in – it is what McAuliffe did in 2009 by lowering our achievement levels in school 2% that has caused the most problems in our schools – bring the schools back up & we should be back to being in the top 10 in the US whereas we have been 49th in the last 10 years because of Democrats! That includes schools as well as our economy! Today Maryland, both Carolinas & Tennessee are ahead of Virginia! Wasn’t that way when I went to school!
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I don’t think things are as dire as the article writer says. I have been involved in the VA GOP 20+ years, and all levels of campaigns have brought in staffers from out of VA. This is nothing new. The best staff stay with VA Republican incumbents.
Also, I have not picked up on this complete message of Election Integrity for an entire month–not on the TV airwaves. Maybe…..internally to groups of people where its important to nail down the base.
There are staff shakeups in all statewide campaigns. This is hard work, and not for everybody.
Personally, I walk around Costco, Sam’s Club, Food Lion, Harris Teeter , and other places with a Youngkin sticker on. I have no bad reactions at all, mostly people telling me he’s VA only savior….and how can they get involved.
Youngkin did just fine. He won. We not only won Republican votes,, he won democrat and Independent votes.