Nov 8, 2023 - Politics
Town Talker

Glenn Youngkin handed presidential buzzkill

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin didn't get what he wanted, after Democrats seized total control of the legislature on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Youngkin's flirtation with taking on former President Trump in the 2024 election — and the media's obsession — is finally coming to an end.

What I'm hearing: Those around him believe Youngkin's too smart to enter the 2024 race — even if Republicans had triumphed last night and flipped the Senate.

  • "I don't know anyone who knows him that thinks he's going to run for president in 2024," a person close to the Youngkin operation told me on Monday, asking to remain anonymous to speak candidly. Deadlines for several early states have passed, and more are about to, even if Youngkin publicly hasn't ruled it out.
  • Youngkin's wife, Suzanne, has privately not wanted him to get into the race, according to two sources with knowledge of her thinking. She has worried for months, in particular, about putting her family in Trump's crosshairs, one person said.

Yes, but: Those in the governor's orbit expect a Youngkin 2028 campaign. (In our current political age, one might say the 56-year-old isn't yet old enough to be president.)

  • Youngkin's office declined to comment.

State of play: Since Youngkin can't run for re-election under Virginia rules, he would leave the governor's mansion in January 2026 with a generous runway for a White House bid.

In the meantime, there's a Bloombergian playbook available to Youngkin.

  • Not the ill-fated Bloomberg 2020 campaign, but the example the former New York mayor set over the preceding decade when he went national to raise money for gun control.
  • Youngkin could do the same on conservative causes, like selling his early voting model to skeptical Republicans.

Between the lines: Perhaps one reason the former private equity exec played so long with the idea of a presidential bid: money. And the boost to his less-Trumpy, dad-vest brand.

  • Youngkin's Spirit of Virginia PAC has raised $30 million since 2021, according to Open Secrets.
  • Leveraging billionaire buzz — and fatcats like Rupert Murdoch urging him to run — meant 90% of the money came from large donors giving more than $10,000.

💭 Virginia has produced eight presidents, more than any other state. Town Talker is a weekly column about local politics and power. Tell me about the talk of the town: [email protected].


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