Youngkin Gives 2024 Presidential Run the Cold Shoulder

Youngkin Gives 2024 Presidential Run the Cold Shoulder


Virginia’s governor is putting the presidential hoopla on ice.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican whose surprising election in a blue-trending state set off instant talk of a presidential run, has tapped the brakes on 2024, telling advisers and donors that his sole focus is on Virginia’s legislative elections in the fall.

Mr. Youngkin hopes to flip the state legislature to a Republican majority. That could earn him a closer look from rank-and-file Republicans across the country, who so far have been indifferent to the presidential chatter surrounding him in the news media, and among heavyweight donors he would need to keep pace alongside more prominent candidates. He has yet to crack 1 percent in polls about the potential Republican field.

Backing away for now is also a bow to political reality. Mr. Youngkin has a shortage of clean conservative victories in the divided Virginia legislature, compared with, say, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who stole much of Mr. Youngkin’s thunder on “parents’ rights” issues in education.

An effort by Mr. Youngkin last year to raise his profile by campaigning for Republicans around the country fizzled when most proved too extreme for voters and lost their races.

Tellingly, Mr. Youngkin’s two top political advisers, who guided his gubernatorial victory and were mapping out a 2024 strategy, both took jobs this month with a super PAC that supports the presidential candidacy of Mr. DeSantis.

Asked about his presidential decision timeline this week, Mr. Youngkin said, “Listen, I didn’t write a book, and I’m not in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina.” Instead, he said, he is putting his full focus on November’s statewide Virginia election, when all 140 seats in both chambers of the General Assembly are on the ballot. A decision to enter the 2024 campaign in November would be historically late, well past the first Republican debate in August.

“I am wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I’m looking forward to these elections,’’ Mr. Youngkin said during an appearance to promote Virginia’s agricultural exports. Standing outdoors at a terminal for barges near Richmond — dressed in a blue suit and tie rather than the red fleece vest he wore while seeking office, a symbol of his suburban dad-ness — the governor, 56, said that gaining majorities in the legislature “is what this year is all about.”


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