Leahy: Youngkin Sets His Marks on 2023, With An Eye Toward 2024
As most of the political world is focused on the midterm congressional elections, or ex-president Donald Trump’s latest legal pratfall, the contours of Virginia’s 2023 General Assembly session and elections are coming into focus. They deserve attention now, because the results of that session, and those races, will determine Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) political fate in 2024.
Though Youngkin has raised national eyebrows and expectations with his campaign stops for GOP gubernatorial candidates — the latest being Michigan’s Tudor Dixon, with a September stop scheduled in Nevada for GOP nominee Joe Lombardo and more after that — it’s easy to overlook just how much he has riding on what happens in Virginia next year.
Youngkin knows this, which helps explain the full-court press on a couple of recent initiatives — one on the GOP bedrock issue of taxes and the other tackling the long-standing problem of revitalizing Petersburg.
On the tax front, the pitch is simple: State government is awash in cash. Some of it must be returned to the taxpayers.
It’s the old-time GOP gospel that, in Virginia, reached its apotheosis in Jim Gilmore’s 1997 “No Car Tax” campaign slogan.
Though the car tax remains — thanks in no small measure to Republican indifference to completing Gilmore’s promised repeal — the old tax-cutting faith still retains some potency. So, in his presentation to the General Assembly grandees who decide how the commonwealth will spend taxpayer money, Youngkin promised an additional $400 million or so of tax relief for next year.
Though that’s a small amount per capita — around $50 — it could be cobbled together to be a little more meaningful for, say, a suburban family of four living in a crucial state Senate district.
This assumes the General Assembly will agree. There’s no reason Republicans shouldn’t agree with more tax cuts. But consider what Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said about Youngkin’s idea, as reported by The Post’s Laura Vozzella:
“I’ve just been here long enough where I have been through this cycle where we think things are running robust and then we hit 2018 or, you know, 2008 or 2009,” he said, referring to previous downturns. “When we hit that downturn, all of a sudden these revenues drop off for whatever reason, it is going to be a great comfort that we have those resources.”
Maybe that’s just prudent thinking. Or cautiousness in the face of uncertainty. But if Norment starts burbling about “bills in the drawer,” as the late Republican state senator John Chichester once did when the rest of the GOP was keen on tax cuts, then Youngkin will find that his biggest opponents aren’t General Assembly Democrats but legislators of his own party.