After months of interviews, TV appearances, and hype, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin—and his vision of himself as the new standard bearer of how to win as a Republican—ran into a problem: He lost. On Tuesday, Youngkin’s dreams of helping bring about a GOP-led General Assembly were crushed. The state’s Democrats secured the majority in both the House of Delegates and the state senate. The loss thwarted the GOP’s effort at complete legislative control and potentially finished Youngkin’s presidential aspirations. In the process, millions of dollars in PAC donations were flushed down the toilet.
Call me sometime Glenn.
I want to hear you say it. pic.twitter.com/WkPWdknzEh
— L. Louise Lucas (@SenLouiseLucas) November 8, 2023
“The emperor has no clothes except for a red sweater vest,” Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Virginia Mercury as the election results were announced. With all 140 legislative seats up for grabs, Democratic candidates flipped the Republican’s previous 52-48 majority in the House and maintained their control in the Senate, according to unofficial elections results.
As my colleague Ari Berman, reported, this year’s election cycle was a particularly critical one. Virginia’s previously divided government prevented Youngkin, and the formerly Republican House, from passing contested pieces of legislation, including a 15-week abortion ban. The governor spent a good chunk of 2023 touring the Old Dominion state to change that. And his political action committee, Spirit of Virginia, was reportedly one of the largest spenders in this election cycle, which was already poised to be notably costly compared to others. As my colleague Abby Vesoulis noted, The Spirit of Virginia poured $7.7 million into this year’s legislative candidates. Youngkin, a former CEO for a major private equity company, even included $500,000 of his own cash towards their election efforts, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). None of it mattered. He lost.
“Virginia voters sent a very clear message by resoundingly embracing inclusion, equity, and civil rights at the ballot box,” said Del. Marcia Price (D) in a statement to Mother Jones. “They rejected fear-mongering and destructive culture wars. Not even the Republican’s dog whistles and scare tactics could suppress the people’s support for the common sense solutions that Democrats prioritize.”
During the lead-up to these elections, there was plenty of talk about how a Republican win could propel Youngkin, who’s been candid about a potential bid for the presidency, into the 2024 Republican candidate lineup. Well, good luck trying that now.