Glenn Youngkin is a rising star in the Republican party; his gubernatorial win in Virginia last year was a center-stage political moment. Notably, Youngkin ran without involvement from former President Donald Trump – offering something of an alternative to MAGA.
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Now, with Trump’s – and MAGA’s – political stock declining, some are wondering whether Youngkin would make for a viable presidential candidate. Yet, while Youngkin may one day have a legitimate shot at running for the White House, 2024 won’t be his year. The field is already set.
First, Donald Trump is running for president, again – a third consecutive run. Any primary that includes a former president is already probably too crowded. And Donald Trump consumes more political oxygen than just about anyone, ever.
Trump’s stock has never been lower – it’s true. The former president is especially vulnerable right now; his candidates fared poorly during the midterms, leading many prominent Republicans to denounce Trump and encourage the GOP to move forward with someone else. Trump went right ahead and declared his candidacy for president anyway. And while his enthusiasm and his charisma seem lower than ever, he’s still Trump, and he still has a passionately loyal base. He’s going to wield some political clout, meaning any challenger is going to have to elbow their way in. That challenger will need to be thick-skinned, politically talented, and brash.
Ron Desantis: The Only Person Who Can Challenge Trump?
Really, the only challenger who appears suited to the task of ousting the former president who still commands a cult-like following, is not Glenn Youngkin, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis may well even be the frontrunner at this point, after defeating former governor Charlie Crist by a 20-point margin. DeSantis, a former Yale baseball player and Navy JAG, has used several high-profile incidents to make a name for himself. For example, DeSantis flouted conventional COVID guidelines. He publicly battled Disney.
He signed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. He chartered a plane of immigrants for Martha’s Vineyard. Much of DeSantis’s maneuvering – especially the charter plane – had a gimmicky feel to it. But the gimmick has worked. DeSantis has elevated himself to a national figure, one whom conservatives are excited about, one whom many have pegged as Trump’s successor as leader of the GOP.
Whether DeSantis can siphon enough of his party’s support away from Donald Trump, and earn the GOP ticket for 2024 remains to be seen – but the showdown will be significant and consuming, leaving little room for anyone else to get a word in.
Which is why the timing is terrible for someone like Glenn Youngkin, who may have a higher political ceiling, and may one day explore a run for president. Running right now, against the Trump-DeSantis show, would only serve to frame Youngkin as a low-tier contender, an “also ran” with single digit numbers.
The 2024 GOP field has already narrowed to a two-man field and Youngkin wouldn’t gain much from wading into the fray.
It wouldn’t be a good look. Youngkin would be better off biding his time, pooling his political capital, and building his brand. Youngkin will have other opportunities to run if he wants. Besides, he has only recently begun his tenure as Governor of Virginia. Leaving office so early, to run for president, doesn’t always reflect well on the candidate.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.