With President Biden coming to campaign for Terry McAuliffe later today, the national media is tuning in to the Virginia governor’s race. Unfortunately, a lot of it is “both sides” blather, repeating Republican talking points and conventional wisdom, etc. – not much value added, in other words. One article that actually *is* worth reading, IMHO, is by Eleanor Clift in The Daily Beast. Here are a few highlights:
- First of all, the headline and subheader pretty much sum up who Glenn Youngkin is and what he’s trying to do: “A Trumpy Wannabe Tries to Spend His Way to Victory in Va…Unlike Trump himself, Glenn Youngkin is spending dozens of millions of his own fortune to try to pull off an upset in the increasingly blue state.”
- Also smart is Clift talking to Jesse Ferguson, one of the most perceptive and knowledgeable Democratic political people out there, and someone who knows Virginia VERY well from his time working for Brian Moran. According to Ferguson, Democrats should definitely NOT assume victory, as Virginia is not California-or-New-York “blue,” and also that Youngkin has the resources (a personal fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars) to attempt to “remake himself—in a way that Democrats don’t have the resources to match—into a non-Trump-tainted ‘normal’ candidate for office, hoping no one looks under the hood.” For us political junkies who follow this stuff all the time, we might wonder, who can that possibly be? Jesse Ferguson nails the answer, which is basically that most people are not plugged-in political news junkies: “For people who are paying attention, he is losing the race every day. But for those who only watch TV ads, they’re getting swamped with content making him seem like he’s something he’s not.” Anyway, that analysis from Jesse Ferguson alone makes Eleanor Clift’s article worth reading…
- UVA Professor Larry Sabato also comes through with some perceptive observations: “Youngkin has not had a good summer“; “He brought it on himself saying he was so honored to get the endorsement, and that Trump’s policies and actions were why he got in the race. He reminds one of a little kid who goes behind the couch and thinks nobody can see him. You can’t say things and assume there’s no record of it or that people won’t remember.”; “He’s afraid to debate. He doesn’t know much about governing. They’re keeping him in front of friendly crowds, and they can’t keep doing that.”; but…“After 2016, you can’t take anything for granted.”
- And Stephen Farnsworth, Director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, is spot on: “The Democrats would pay for Trump to come to Virginia. They’d love to see him in the state. For Youngkin, that wouldn’t be helpful. Every day Trump is part of the national conversation is a good day for McAuliffe and the Democrats.”
Bottom line: If you’re paying close attention, it should be obvious that Youngkin isn’t even worthy of consideration for governor of Virginia, for a whole host of reasons, *but* if all you’ve seen are his TV ads – and he has enough money to buy essentially an unlimited number of them – you might be convinced that he’s not that bad, a business guy who doesn’t talk (in his ads) about divisive issues, doesn’t *seem* extreme (in his ads), doesn’t mention Trump (in his ads), etc. The job for Democrats this fall, then, will be to make sure “blue” voters – the same folks who helped Barack Obama win the state twice, Ralph Northam crush Ed Gillespie, Joe Biden beat Trump by 10 points, etc. – know how extreme Glenn Youngkin and his ticket mates (Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares) are, and turn out in droves to make sure they don’t even get close to victory in November.