Wielding his red vest and “suburban guy” persona, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin had Republican donors salivating over his big plan to rebrand the abortion issue and potentially make a late entry into the 2024 presidential hunt.
That GOP fantasy came to an abrupt end Tuesday night when voters handed full control of the Virginia General Assembly to Democrats. Youngkin's flameout was perhaps best summed up in a tweet by Virginia-based political scientist Larry Sabato, who heads the elections forecasting site Sabato's Crystal Ball.
"CLEARANCE SALE: all 'Youngkin for President 2024' merchandise. A free MyPillow comes with all purchases over $1. NO RETURNS," Sabato wrote as Democrats' dominance became clear.
Youngkin attracted attention in recent months for laughably attempting to reframe Republicans' much-desired 15-week abortion ban as a "15-week limit." His super PAC poured some $1.4 million into an ad buy for a spot claiming, "Here's the truth: There is no ban."
Voters weren't fooled: A ban is a ban, after all. And unlike in 2021, when Youngkin won the governor's mansion, voters had a couple of years to size up his policies. Behind all of Youngkin's fresh-faced and fleecy goodness, he was a right-wing radical who pushed an abortion ban, book bans, and hate-filled anti-transgender policies; sought permanent tax cuts for wealthy corporations and individuals; and supported rolling back voting rights and gun restrictions.
Red vest or not, you simply can't put lipstick on that pig.
In any sane party, Youngkin's disastrous Tuesday showing would mark the end of his presidential talk. But this is the Republican Party, folks, and GOP donors are so desperate to offload Donald Trump that some reportedly still hold a flame for the red-vested charlatan.
“I look at it as now he’s not going to be able to get his agenda passed, so why not run?” Brad Hobbs, a major donor and longtime friend, told The Washington Post. “He can’t do the things that he wants to do.”
Good thinking: If Youngkin can't foist his radical agenda on Virginia, let's see how it works on the whole nation!
Newsflash: Youngkin's got no MAGA swagger, and left-of-center voters despise his policies. He's literally got no constituency other than the Virginia residents who are irreconcilably stuck with him for another two years.
Turns out, the only people buying those red vests were deep-pocketed donors. Let's not be coy here: They literally held a "Red Vest Retreat" in September. Here's hoping they incinerate a little (or a lot) more cash trying to get the Youngkin band back together.