Glenn Youngkin won an unlikely race to become the governor of Virginia. Once a bastion of the Republican Party, the state rapidly took California’s pathway to oblivion. The reason was simple: Northern Virginia was just across the river from Washington, D.C., and it was more affordable at one time for government workers to populate the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., rather than the cramped capital.
Since Northern Virginia was essentially a company town—and the business of those living in NoVa was inextricably linked to the federal government—the overpopulated northern portion of the state became overwhelmingly Democratic (because the Democrats are generally the party of big government).
With the population of Northern Virginia concentrated and so Left-leaning, the state swung away from its traditional conservatism and became increasingly Liberal. High taxes, massive regulations, and extremely high cost of living came to define life in Virginia (I lived in Alexandria, VA, for years, and my wife hails from Arlington).
Just as with places like California, Illinois, and New York, while there were sprawling pockets of Republican areas of the state, there weren’t enough people to stop the slide.
It looked as though Virginia would never have another Republican governor again. Until Glenn Youngkin came out of nowhere and knocked the Democratic Party’s machine in Richmond down a couple of pegs. Youngkin’s campaign was simple: one part economic sensibility, one part social conservatism, and no parts Donald Trump.
Youngkin’s candidacy for governor came on the heels of the damaging COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent (unpopular) lockdowns, mask mandates, and other pandemic mitigation responses both from the federal government as well as from the Virginia government in Richmond.
But the most significant boost to Glenn Youngkin came from events unfolding in Northern Virginia, of all places.
It was in these NoVa suburbs that a war was raging between concerned parents and their local school boards. The school boards were in the process of lowering academic standards in the name of fairness while simultaneously seeking to expand the availability of controversial LGBTQ materials in schools for very young children.
Parents became concerned. They demanded the school boards of these Northern Virginia localities desist. Yet, the school boards, facing pressure from Left-wing activist groups, persisted. A national uproar occurred, which saw parents aggressively opposing these school boards. Although many of the people opposing these radical Left-wing policies were not conservatives, they were concerned parents. These concerned parents came to believe that Glenn Youngkin was the only politician running for office who was aware of the problem and had a plan for dealing with it.
Glenn Youngkin won because of these voters. He has a wide, cross-section appeal. Virginia, like Florida and California, is a cross-section of the United States’ population. Youngkin won more than just the GOP’s base in Virginia. The man can gain widespread appeal. That makes Youngkin a prime contender for president in 2024.
No Time for President, Governor Youngkin
Sadly for Youngkin, however, he is an issues candidate who performs best by touting the pet issues he’s taken on as governor. And with former President Donald J. Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (though he has yet to announce his run), former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice-President Mike Pence, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, all sucking up oxygen in the GOP Primary how Youngkin could possibly breakthrough is a perplexing thought.
In fact, Youngkin cannot breakthrough. It’s too crowded a field, and Youngkin lacks the charisma to blast an opening in that competitive field. Governor Youngkin is likely thinking that he should run for president in 2024 because he is term-limited as governor of Virginia—and that term will end soon. He’s enjoyed immense success and should be proud of the accomplishments he has created for himself and his state. But Youngkin will never be president of the United States.
Going Where He Can Have the Most Impact
The Virginia governor can still do immense good, both in the governor’s mansion and beyond. After his tenure as governor expires, he should look into running either for Congress or the United States Senate. Youngkin has proven he has what it takes to fight for the values and policies the Republican Party holds dear. A national platform might give him the boost he needs to eventually run for president at some point in the future.
But, Youngkin must recognize that now is not his time. It would be a pity to see such a talented Republican waste his time and energy on what is sure to be a failed presidential campaign in 2024. Not just a failed campaign, though. It would be a disastrously pathetic campaign; the kind that no candidate could recover from.
Glenn Youngkin must focus on his duties as governor and then work toward moving to a larger role in Washington, D.C. If he can prove himself there, once the Trump phenomenon is gone from the GOP, he can make a believable play for the presidency at some later date.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.