Less than a year after winning office by presenting herself as not at all like Donald Trump, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin now endorses a woman who insists the 2020 election was stolen from the former president and who is calling herself and other Trump supporters. has compared to Jesus.
Youngkin will spend a day campaigning next month with Kari Lake, the GOP nominee for governor in Arizona and one of the most prolific propagators of Trump’s election in the Republican world outside of Trump himself.
Republicans who left the party over Trump’s misdeeds culminating in his coup attempt on Jan. 6, 2021, said Youngkin’s willingness to support election liars like Lake is revealing.
“He didn’t run like a ‘normal’ Republican. He ran like an enabler of the madmen. In today’s GOP there are crazies and there are people who encourage the crazies,” said Joe Walsh, a former GOP congressman from Illinois. “It’s no surprise that he helped Kari Lake, a madman, get elected, and cements his status as an enabler.”
David Jolly, a former GOP congressman from Florida, said Youngkin — who is not eligible for re-election due to Virginia’s one-term limit — is now trying to appeal to the median Republican voter nationally, meaning he can steal Trump’s election claims. supports.
“I feel a little cheated by how I saw his candidacy,” said Jolly. “It may be that we put too much value on Youngkin, the candidate rather than realizing that his race was probably just an exercise in matching a message to where the constituency was for the Virginia general election.”
Youngkin’s political operation declined to comment on his decision to support Lake, or the former television journalist’s various statements during her campaign.
Last week, when Youngkin visited Reno, Nevada, in support of the GOP candidate for governor there, The New Zealand Times asked him how he would respond to fellow Republicans, like Lake, who continue to insist the 2020 election was stolen.
“We have to look ahead. That’s what we need to do as Republicans,” Youngkin said, using the euphemism some Republicans have adopted to suggest the party should stop dwelling on Trump’s false claims. “The reality, of course, is that we have to work to give people more confidence in the electoral process.”
However, Lake is unlikely to stop repeating Trump’s lie that the election was rigged and stolen when it comes time for Youngkin’s October 19 visit.
“The Lake Kari you had in the primaries is the Lake Kari you get in general,” said a Lake aide on condition of anonymity, adding that Youngkin’s staff had not requested Lake the stolen election lie would not repeat during their day together .
Lake won Trump’s support early on with her visits to his Florida social club Mar-a-Lago and her enthusiastic embrace of his repeatedly debunked claims of mass fraud in the 2020 election. More recently, she reiterated during a campaign visit to a church. his 2015 claim that immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border are criminals.
“They bring drugs. They bring crime. They are rapists, and that is the one who crosses our border,” she said.
In that same appearance, she said she didn’t mind if President Joe Biden criticized her and Trump followers who support the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, because Jesus Christ was also criticized.
“You can call us extremists. You can call us domestic terrorists. You know who else got lots of names all his life? Jesus,” she said.
Youngkin, who took office in January, narrowly defeated Democratic former Governor Terry McAuliffe in a race that will test Youngkin’s ability to drive high turnout among Trump supporters in rural Virginia, as he sees his losses in the state’s northern suburbs. , where Trump is largely loathed, shortens .
He did this by emphasizing education, crime and inflation, while largely ignoring Trump’s election lies. His ability to win a state that Biden carried in double digits in 2020 immediately made him a potential contender in the eyes of major GOP donors.
The fact that Youngkin has now failed to chart a course away from Trumpism is disappointing, a senior Republican strategist said.
“It is expected that Donald Trump and… [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis would campaign for Kari Lake. It is very frustrating to see Glenn Youngkin share his fate with them instead of standing next to the sensible and rational Republicans who recognize that our party will never move forward if we embrace election deniers and condone their dangerous lies.” , the adviser said on condition of anonymity. . “While he sees political benefits in addressing the QAnon crowd as he grows his national brand, he is doing lasting damage to any opportunity to be seen as a responsible leader with respected principles.”
For Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, Youngkin’s decision to campaign with Kari Lake, rather than denounce her, is beyond disappointing and more of an abdication.
“Youngkin has already campaigned for a rogue gallery of election deniers I prefer the term ‘election liars’. Tudor Dixon in Michigan, Paul LePage in Maine, Joe Lombardo in Nevada and others,” said Sabato. “So Kari Lake fits right in, but she’s arguably the most extreme of the bunch.”