Leahy: Youngkin Risks His Political Future by Boosting Lake
A couple of weeks ago in this space, I wrote that polling data indicated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) appeared to have a growing and politically valuable reservoir of public support.
But popular support can be a fickle thing. Missteps, gaffes and scandals can turn a popular governor into a liability — just ask former governors Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Ralph Northam (D) how precipitous such a fall can be.
Let’s add one more item to that list of popularity killers: national ambition. Youngkin has the higher-office bug. He denies it, saying he’s focused on Virginia and its problems, but the signs are obvious: the repeated national media hits, the campaign appearances for GOP gubernatorial candidates, the open talk about a possible 2024 presidential run.
All that buzz and all the national demands for Youngkin to share a bit of the magic that helped him thwart Virginia Democrats in 2021 has led him to make some questionable campaign appearances this year.
This summer, it was a swing through Nebraska and Colorado, where a little bit of advance work would have tipped him off about the troubles brewing in those state’s GOP circles.
Let’s be generous and put that campaign swing down as a rookie mistake. There was no such excuse for Youngkin’s recent foray to Maine on behalf of the execrable former governor Paul LePage (R). Youngkin played dumb about Lepage’s past remarks and was eventually forced to distance himself from them.
Kind of. As The Post’s Laura Vozzella reported:
“I condemn those comments and don’t agree with them,” Youngkin said when asked if he understood why Virginia Democrats had been upset with his decision to boost LePage. “He, in fact, apologized. And the reality is … he misspoke.”
That’s an unforced error/gaffe/own-goal all wrapped in one.
But Youngkin’s next act, making a campaign appearance for Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, makes the LePage episode look positively benign.
It’s hard to know where to start with a candidate like Lake, the ex-TV news reader turned Trumpish politician. Politico distilled Lake as “the highest-profile, most MAGA-aligned candidate Youngkin has campaigned for to date” and one who has “embraced Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolen, railed against Covid vaccine mandates and turned the media into a punching bag.”