Sep 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis, Youngkin split on road to '24

Where <b style='color: #e15248;'>Youngkin</b> and <b style='color: #b32710;'>DeSantis</b> are campaigning
Data: Axios research; Map: Axios Visuals

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are two of the biggest names in Republican politics. But they're taking markedly different approaches toward campaigning in the midterms — and perhaps to 2024.

The big picture: Youngkin is bypassing MAGA-oriented gubernatorial candidates in favor of pragmatists running tough races in blue states. DeSantis has leaned into some of the party's most controversial nominees.

By the numbers: DeSantis has campaigned for 7 Senate or gubernatorial candidates this year. Six of them are Trump-endorsed.

  • Youngkin has helped out, or is planning to help out, 10 GOP gubernatorial candidates. Just 3 of them have Trump's backing, and 8 of the 10 are running in states that President Biden carried in 2020.

The intrigue: Youngkin is only campaigning for one incumbent governor — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who Trump worked against during the primary.

There's only one gubernatorial candidate with committed support from both DeSantis and Youngkin: New Mexico's Mark Ronchetti, whom Trump has not endorsed.

What we're watching: DeSantis in August campaigned for several Trump-endorsed nominees, including Senate candidates J.D. Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona.

  • He also hit the trail for Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano — whom the Republican Governors Association (RGA) has declined to back — as well as Kari Lake in Arizona.
  • Youngkin's announced campaign swing doesn't include Arizona, where Lake is locked in a close contest. He's also poised to skip Pennsylvania, where Trump on Saturday will hold his first general election rally of 2022.

Youngkin isn't campaigning in Senate races, but he's either campaigning in person or holding fundraisers for GOP candidates for governor in Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon. Kansas will be added to that list.

  • Both Youngkin and DeSantis will campaign for GOP House candidates in their home states.

What they're saying: DeSantis spokesperson Lindsey Curnutte tells Axios: "The Governor is supporting candidates who align with the freedom agenda we’ve created in Florida."

  • Youngkin political adviser Kristin Davison told Axios: "He's excited to bring the spirit of Virginia to swing states that look a lot like Virginia did last year, turn blue states' culture of defeat into a spirit of winning, and help flip these purple and blue states red."

Our thought bubble: If Youngkin helps elect Republican governors in blue states like New Mexico and Oregon, while Trump and DeSantis' candidates in redder states fall to defeat, it would send a powerful message that Youngkin's mainstream conservative message is a winning one for the party.

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