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LANFORD: Youngkin needs to stop campaigning for hateful extremists

The Governor’s choice of candidates to campaign for shows a lack of character and ignores Virginians back home

<p>Whether he likes it or not, Youngkin is the governor of Virginia and it's time he starts putting the commonwealth first before thinking about his political future.</p>

Whether he likes it or not, Youngkin is the governor of Virginia and it's time he starts putting the commonwealth first before thinking about his political future.

Governor Glenn Youngkin has been incredibly busy these past few months campaigning for a number of Republican candidates in different races around the U.S. In his own words, “it’s just very easy for me to really very candidly say we’re not thinking about 2024, we’re focused on 2022.” With 2022 in mind, Youngkin has continued his dangerous rhetoric from his own campaign when it comes to the candidates he is stumping for. Be it fueling more conspiracies surrounding K-12 education to supporting openly racist or homophobic candidates, the governor seems to have no shame. Youngkin’s campaign choices show a lack of character, leading me to question his commitment to dealing with issues actually facing Virginia.

In the first of Youngkin’s curious campaigning decisions, he traveled to Michigan to lobby for Tudor Dixon, a Republican candidate who has made jokes about the attempted kidnapping plot of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and is an election denier. From there, Youngkin moved to Maine and campaigned for former Governor Paul LePage, a notorious racist who has said things such as “you try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.” When called out by Virginia Democrats, Youngkin’s spokesperson Macaualy Porter called this a “baseless partisan attack.” To excuse this blatant racism is shameful and harmful to Virginians of color. Youngkin next made his way to Kansas to boost the campaign of Derek Schmidt, a candidate who has been just as vocal as Youngkin about harmful policies targeting transgender youth. Meanwhile in Georgia, Youngkin supported Governor Brian Kemp, who has made a name for himself by signing bills into law that limit the discussion of race in school. This attempt to ignore the systemic issues of white supremacy entirely is not very far off from the critical race conspiracy theories Youngkin won the Virginia governor election through. 

When it comes to policy at home, Youngkin has had seemingly nothing to say about the increase in Dominion Energy’s billing that the State Corporation Commission approved. This is an issue that affects all Virginians and a lack of any sort of statement to assuage any fears or concerns about the rising cost of energy shows that it is a low-level issue in the governor’s eyes. Furthermore, Youngkin has recently been in hot water over an advertisement for the state of Virginia featuring himself and produced by a firm that worked on his own campaign ads that was paid for with $268,000 in state funds. When asked for comment, Rita McClenny, the Virginia tourism chief executive officer, said explained that relation was part of the “attractiveness,” in addition to citing the firm’s work. The brazen nature of such a move alongside the fact that other contractors argue they did not have time to properly prepare a bid makes it seem incredibly likely to have a political motive. Watching the ad itself reads like a political campaign message, but it also feels as if the governor’s main interactions with the Commonwealth have been more about messaging — or lack thereof — than anything tangible.

Needless to say, Youngkin has been hitting the campaign trail hard and he shows no sign of stopping. This is a serious problem, as it leads me to question the governor’s claims that he has Virginia in mind and not the presidency. Whether he likes it or not, Youngkin is the governor of Virginia and it is time he starts putting the Commonwealth first before thinking about his political future. Furthermore, the quality of the candidates Youngkin has been stumping for is incredibly low and shows he is no better than former president Donald Trump. From racism to homophobia, Youngkin is advocating for a nation — more specifically, a Virginia — that we do not want to see. If he cannot be committed to Virginia when it needs him right now, then what does that say about his commitment to the nation, should he run for president? Virginia deserves a governor of a higher caliber — one with a commitment to truth and compassion. 

Ryan Lanford is an Opinion Columnist who writes about Politics for The Cavalier Daily. They can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.

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