Leahy: Virginia’s GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Need More Than MAGA-tudes and Bromides to Win in November
Statewide election years in Virginia normally see the General Assembly doing its work with little fanfare and leaving Richmond quickly so everyone can get back to running campaigns and raising money.
But this year, Virginia Democrats are pushing some very big policy changes through the General Assembly — from proposals to repeal the death penalty and curtail the use of mandatory minimum sentences, to accelerating the push for marijuana legalization, ending the commonwealth’s decades-old right-to-work law and many more. This session is brimming with very big ideas.
Many of them have a good chance of becoming law and if so, then the 2021 session, and the Democrats running it, could go down in the history books for their accomplishments.
But all of this legislative activity raises a very big question: Is Virginia ready to go where Democrats are leading?
The November election will provide a definitive answer. We have a pretty good handle on where Democrats are heading. How about the GOP?
So far, voters have been offered a sorry mix of MAGA-tudes and bromides. They’ve also been given a real campaign rallying cry.
Let’s start with newcomer Sergio de la Peña. He looks to be running as the “conservative colonel,” whom former president Donald Trump asked to “help run the Western Hemisphere.” He won’t be “canceled,” but he will stop unnamed leftists from turning Virginia socialist.
All of the MAGA bells and (dog) whistles are there. But we are left to guess about where the MAGA-channeling colonel wants to lead.
Things improve slightly with newish entrant Pete Snyder. The ex-tech executive, who sought the GOP’s lieutenant governor nomination in 2013, is still high on disruption and running against career politicians — including former governor Terry McAuliffe (D), Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). But this time around, Snyder has added a heavy coat of MAGA to the old campaign chassis, hoping it plays well with a GOP convention crowd.
Where does he hope to lead the commonwealth? Into a “better and brighter future.” Well. That’s, um, nice.
The newest entrant to the race is Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy political neophyte who stepped down as co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group in September. Youngkin is making a bid for the outsider lane, saying it will take “an outsider, a new kind of leader, to bring a new day to Virginia.”
Okay. But nowhere in Youngkin’s introductory video does he say he is running as a Republican. An unusual step for a candidate seeking a nomination in a convention of the party faithful. There’s also a PAC opposing him. It posted a video comparing Youngkin to McAuliffe, the Democratic gubernatorial front-runner.
Then there’s state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield), whose MAGA-ness has reached performance art levels. Chase is currently the object of a censure resolution in the Virginia Senate and hasn’t offered much about how or where she might lead the commonwealth.