Glenn Youngkin considers entering 2024 race – one month after indicating he was unlikely to run

The Virginia governor likely would not make a presidential announcement until after state legislative elections in November

Abe Asher
Tuesday 23 May 2023 21:16 BST
McAuliffe blasts Glenn Youngkin over book-banning controversy

Gov Glenn Youngkin of Virginia is giving fresh consideration to the possibility of running for president, Axios reported on Tuesday.

Mr Youngkin, a conservative who was elected governor in 2021, said last month that he was fully focused on his duties in Virginia rather than a presidential campaign. But the release of a campaign-style video last week with the line “it's time to usher in a new era of American values” reignited speculation that Mr Youngkin may ultimately launch a bid.

If he does, Axios reports, it will be in part because of the challenges his fellow governor Ron DeSantis is experiencing as he looks to get his campaign off the ground.

The conventional wisdom for months was that Mr DeSantis was the most formidable challenger to former President Donald Trump — even at times besting him in polls of early voting states. But Mr DeSantis has had a difficult spring, losing ground in the polls to Mr Trump and, reportedly, the confidence of some of the deep-pocketed donors he’s relying on to fuel his imminent campaign.

That may have left the door ajar for other Republicans who harbor ambitions of challenging the former president. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, former Gov Asa Hutchinson, and Sen Tim Scott have all launched campaigns, with a host of other would-be candidates still weighing their own futures.

For now, Mr Youngkin’s political team is rejecting ideas that he is moving closer to a presidential bid.

“Governor Youngkin is focused on Virginia,” Dave Rexrode, senior adviser to Mr Youngkin, told Axios. “Anyone who anonymously says otherwise probably isn’t as close to the Governor as they want people to think.”

Mr Youngkin’s timeline may be different than those of other candidates. Virginia has state legislative elections coming up in November, with Democratic control of the state Senate currently stalling parts of Mr Youngkin’s agenda. The other consideration is that Virginia governors are only permitted to serve one term, meaning that 2024 will be Mr Youngkin’s last year in office.

Still, Axios has reported that some wealthy Republican donors want Mr Youngkin in the race. “He’s reconsidering,” Axios quoted an adivser to Mr Youngkin as saying. “He’d be in his own lane: He’s not never-Trump, and he’s not Trump-light.”

Unlike Mr DeSantis, Mr Youngkin has not had full control of the state assembly during his term as governor and was elected in a state that has not supported a Republican for president in nearly two decades. But like Mr DeSantis, he’s focused on culture war issues like severely limiting discussions of race in public schools and attempting to ban mask mandates.

On economic issues, he’s governed like a standard Republican: focused on cutting taxes, at the expense, according to Democrats, of investment in social infrastructure.

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