Glenn Youngkin May Run After All

Virginia's governor is reportedly taking a shot at the 2024 Republican nomination.

Axios (“Scoop: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin reconsiders 2024 bid“):

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is reconsidering a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, after earlier taking himself out of the race as polls made former President Trump look increasingly formidable, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Pretty much every poll shows twice-impeached former President Donald Trump running away with the Republican nomination. Younkin is reasonably popular here in Virginia but is less than a blip in the national polls. So, what gives?

What’s happening: Youngkin told Richmond reporters in April that he was focused on this fall’s Virginia legislative races.

  • “Listen, I didn’t write a book, and I’m not in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina,” he said. “I am wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
  • But that has changed amid a rocky few months for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy Wednesday.

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.”
  • 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.”

Youngkin isn’t a nut on the order of DeSantis or Gregg Abbott but threaded the needle too closely to the MAGA line for my tastes in the 2021 campaign. Much as with Trump in 2016, I voted for the Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, despite being my least favorite Democratic candidate for the office since I started voting for it.

He’s governed more-or-less responsibly, though. He’s not quite Larry Hogan or Chris Sununu, having engaged in more populist grandstanding than I would prefer. But he’s certainly preferable to a Trump or DeSantis.

And there’s something to the “lane” idea. Neither Nikki Haley nor Asa Hutchinson has gained any traction, so there may indeed be room for a candidate who’s neither MAGA nor so anti-Trump as to have alienated the GOP base. As much as I liked the idea of nominating Jon Huntsman in 2012, he seemed to go out of his way to get people not to vote for him. And the base is decidedly more angry now than it was then.

Still, Axios saves the more likely reason for last:

Between the lines: Virginia governors have just four years in office — they can’t serve consecutive terms. That makes it tough to spend the final year of the term in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early-voting states.

  • “2028 may be the real play,” the source close to Youngkin said. “A lot of these guys consider this a dress rehearsal.”

It probably makes sense to get his name recognition up by running in 2024 as a sitting governor rather than waiting until 2028 when he’s been out of office for years.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    I admit I’ve been a little surprised at how many Republicans are apparently willing to throw their hat in the ring this time. And the fact that Youngkin previously indicated he wouldn’t run and now is apparently changing his mind suggests to me he believes he can win. If it was just to set himself up for the future, he wouldn’t have backed off before.

  2. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Youngkin is a real snake…saying one thing and then doing another completely different thing.
    But his sudden reversal on running, I believe, is solely due the impending legal shitstorm Trump is facing.
    Once Trump is indicted in GA, and by Jack Smith, only the most loyal cult members will stick with him, leaving a pretty open field.
    DeSantis is proving to be a terrible retail politician. I think he is really gonna flop on the nat’l stage.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    I don’t get the purpose of this multiplicity of Republican candidates at all. It seems like a re-run of 2016. As I recall, that was the major reason why Trump got the nomination.

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  4. gVOR08 says:

    Hey, why not? Everybody else is doing it.

    Maybe this presages the GOP funders deciding Trump is a lost cause. But unless the funders drop Trump, we’re setting up a rerun of the 2016 primary, Trump and the dozen or two dwarves splitting the non-Trump vote. Trump isn’t as dumb as he looks. He put effort into making a lot of states plurality winner takes all.

    And it makes sense to set up for ’28. Unfortunately they’ve all figured out we generally change party in the White House every two terms whether there’s any reason to or not. Note too, that if Trump is still with us in ’28 all the GOP principled objections to an 80 year old will have evaporated.

    What do we call the “Rolodex primary” now that no one knows what a Rolodex is? The funders, many of whom coordinate, do give the Party some ability to police primary candidates. (More so for the GOPs, who rely more on large donations.)

  5. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    If they’re all betting that Trump will be indicted, what do they know that we don’t know?

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  6. ptfe says:

    Maybe the national media would scrutinize his “relatable personal story” claims more closely than the VA/DC press did. His insinuations of growing up poor with a partially unemployed parent, working to make ends meet for his family, somehow managed to go through unscathed, even though his dad was a wealthy investment banker who obviously helped his kid land a job that was way out of the norm right out of undergrad.

    As far as being “preferable” to Trump or DeSantis, he certainly would be more dangerous. He had no qualms appointing people who were perfectly willing to endanger gay and trans kids with a new state school policy, and ban basically any Toni Morrison book from school libraries because, like, sex. He proposed an abortion ban past 15 weeks (!) that was so bad that he couldn’t even get full Republican support in the State Senate. His solution to school shootings is…that parents are responsible for keeping guns out of kids’ hands. He’s a far-right buffoon who’s managed to package himself as a Regular Guy Who’s Just Worried For The Kids.

    The man is slimy, and he’s obviously hoping people maybe slightly right of JJ will be hoodwinked into voting for his wackadoo-inspired agenda while he tries to act like it’s perfectly reasonable.

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  7. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @CSK:
    I’d be shocked if Trump wasn’t indicted in both of those cases.

  8. Andy says:

    We could get a similar situation as 2016, where the moderate candidates diluted the moderate primary votes, allowing Trump (or possibly DeSantis) win with pluralities.

    1
  9. CSK says:

    @Andy:

    Precisely my point here: @CSK:

    1
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is either going to go to prison or flee the country. Neither will deter the MAGAts, but it won’t exactly encourage independents.

    DeSantis is a charmless lump of nastiness, a genuine fascist, a natural for the GOP. But he’s running as Trump, and there’s already a Trump who will soon be heroically battling the deep state either from house arrest at Mara Lago or from Dubai. And the clueless schmuck has made himself into a Disney villain, buying more trouble than he’s prepared for.

    The rest of these people are buying lotto tickets.

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  11. DK says:

    @CSK: I think I saw somewhere a polling data analysis that upends thus conventional wisdom, in that for those 2016 Republican primary voters for whom Trump was not their first choice, he was usually their second choice.

  12. Gustopher says:

    They are all running on the assumption/hope that something happens to Trump. Whether he dies from Cheeseburger 4,724,185 or is so buried in criminal charges that he pleads out for house arrest on his golf course, or his diapers leak in public… I’d say about a 1:3 chance Trump is gone by the convention. Not probable, but very plausible.

    If that happens, the race is wide open.

    And a decent chance he would die in office too, which makes VP very attractive.

    Meatball Ron is the only one running as direct replacement for Trump, the rest seem to be aiming for VP with an additional “raise profile in case Trump kicks it” added in.

    ETA: Posting has been super slow since I registered.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    @ptfe:

    He’s a far-right buffoon who’s managed to package himself as a Regular Guy Who’s Just Worried For The Kids.

    This. Why are conservatives so easy to fool? Youngkin isn’t any less whacked than Trump; he’s just a better actor.

  14. Rick DeMent says:

    @CSK:

    If they’re all betting that Trump will be indicted, what do they know that we don’t know

    I was wondering about this myself. They must have some internals informing these decisions. Ether that or Michael in right, they are buying a lottery ticket in case Trump get’s buried in legal issues. Then they can run as the guy who will pardon Trump after they are sworn in.

    I think what they are missing is that Trump will not drop out of the race under any circumstances and if made to drop out by some mechanism I can’t fathom at this point, then Trumps voters will stay home; advantage Biden. Trump would run form behind bars at this point because in his lizard little mind that is his only get out of jail card.