Leahy: Youngkin’s Tip Line Bumble Should Be a Lesson to the New Governor

I was going to use this space to offer up a way-too-early look at the race for the 2025 GOP gubernatorial nomination. But a funny thing happened on the way to punditry.

As in pranks — a lot of them, apparently — directed to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) ripe for parody email tip line where the concerned, aggrieved, bored and others can air their concerns about parents’ rights and allegedly “divisive” school practices.

The inevitable mockery followed — and will likely pick up speed so that the tip line is quietly taken off line and no one speaks of it again.

Let’s be charitable and call the whole idea an “unforced error.”

It’s not the first time a Virginia pol, flush with success and eager to flex his political muscles for the base, dove headfirst in the mockery pool.

One famous example was one-time Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, who, a few months into his term, decided to issue his staff lapel pins with a more modest version of the state seal on them. Rather than the long-existing seal, which shows the goddess Virtus, with one breast bare, standing triumphantly over a fallen tyrant, the Cuccinelli version adopted a Confederate-era version of Virtus, fully covered in an armored breastplate.

Of course, mockery followed this, too. So much so, that Cuccinelli had to backtrack, scrap the pin (now a collector’s item) and promptly blame the media for creating a distraction he built, furnished and decorated.

The only difference here is Cuccinelli, unlike Youngkin, was no political novice, having spent several years in the state Senate. He knew better — and if somehow he didn’t, those closest to him who did should have said something.

For newbie officeholder Youngkin, it’s tempting to think he will learn from this episode, think more carefully, if not strategically, about how he connects with his base and put the tip line behind him.

It’s a big ask of statewide officeholders. Regardless of party, incumbents are loath to admit mistakes — even the most trivial ones, like Youngkin’s tip line or Cuccinelli’s lapel pin.

Continue reading here.

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