The Wall Street Journal editorial board explains that for some time, Virginia hasn’t found a Republican it could support, but now that’s changing. Glenn Youngkin is appealing to the suburban voters the GOP needs to win statewide in Virginia, and also to win national elections. WSJ writes:
Suburban voters swung away from the GOP in a reaction against Mr. Trump. They kept swinging as Democrats took the House in 2018 (Virginia Republicans lost three competitive seats). And they swung again in 2020 to send Mr. Trump to Mar-a-Lago.
Now Mr. Biden is in the White House, and he’s taking his cues from progressives in Congress. They’re promising to supersize taxes and government spending, even as inflation is running at its highest level in 13 years, while businesses can’t find workers, and retailers can’t stock goods. High gas prices and empty shelves do not a happy suburbia make.
Mr. McAuliffe knows it’s a problem. “We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington,” he said this month. “The President is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia.” He’s tried to make the election about vaccine mandates and a proxy war against the last President, to the point that he has called his opponent “Trumpkin.”
Mr. Youngkin is no Trumpkin. He’s a Harvard M.B.A. and a former private-equity executive who wears fleece vests and talks of killing the state’s 2.5% grocery tax. He caught the political wind with anger at Virginia’s public schools. “What we’ve seen over the course of the last 20 months,” Mr. Youngkin said in a debate, “is our school systems refusing to engage with parents.”
The unhappiness runs from Covid-19 school closures and mask mandates, to diluted admission standards at a magnet campus, to arguments about critical-race theory and curriculum. In that debate, Mr. Youngkin raised the question of “sexually explicit material in the library.” Mr. McAuliffe’s reply included this: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” It was a gaffe only because Mr. McAuliffe said in public what he tells teachers unions in private.
The challenge for Mr. Youngkin has been to triangulate between the Trump fans he needs and the suburbanites he needs to win back. He has said Mr. Biden was “legitimately elected,” while also talking about ways to improve ballot integrity and restore public faith. Asked if he’d like Mr. Trump to campaign in the state, Mr. Youngkin sidestepped: “The person that is going to be campaigning here for the next 2½ weeks is Glenn Youngkin.”
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