Leahy: Youngkin Needs to Decide Where His Priorities Lie

It was fun while it lasted, eh, governor? The talk that you might be real presidential timber, despite just six months or so on the job, had to be deeply, personally satisfying.

It was never realistic. Bigger names, with more formidable political operations, always stood in the way of a credible national run. And even if Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) consultants could chart a path though those obstacles, the most important and most confounding remained: former president Donald Trump.

And according to The Post’s Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Trump might declare his candidacy for the 2024 GOP nomination this September — or even sooner.

Regardless of the timing, if Trump’s in, Youngkin’s already-thin national hopes fizzle. Sure, he can still tour the rubber chicken circuit for GOP candidates and state parties, as he did recently in Nebraska and Colorado.

But that’s about it. Anything more would be seen as treachery from Team Trump, and the retribution would be swift.

Let’s assume that Youngkin is as smart as he appears, gets out of Trump’s way and sticks to supporting candidates on this November’s ballot.

That leaves Youngkin with a tremendous opportunity to build a national profile (and Rolodex) for whatever his next step might be. (I still think it’s a Senate run).

But along with this opportunity comes enormous downside. About that nice visit to Nebraska? It was more than just a favor to a fellow Axiom Strategies client and GOP gubernatorial nominee Jim Pillen. It was a cautionary tale of what happens when a politician leaves the comparatively friendly confines of his own political world.

Youngkin walked into the midst of an intraparty bloodletting. It seems a group of GOP regulars didn’t like Gov. Pete Ricketts bossing them around and actively intervening in primaries — such as the one in which Pillen won the nomination over Trump-backed candidate Charles Herbster (who was accused of sexual misconduct late in the campaign, charges Herbster vehemently denied and alleged were an “unfounded, dirty political trick” he linked back to Ricketts).

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