Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is only one year into his term, but his name is already being tossed around in the same breath as Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis as the GOP looks for its next presidential nominee.
In an interview with Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum on Thursday, the former businessman from Falls Church repeatedly stressed that leading the Old Dominion is his top priority at the moment.
“Right now the possibility of me focusing on Virginia and delivering as a governor is 100%:,” he said on “The Story.” “That’s where my attention is. And I think that’s what Virginians expect from me. They elected me to lead change. They elected me to lead Virginia forward. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Virginia governors are permitted by law a single consecutive term. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe was able to run against Youngkin essentially because fellow Democrat Ralph Northam was the incumbent at the time.
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Though he insisted his focus is on Virginia, Youngkin added he is very humbled by hearing his name in presidential discussions.
“Two years ago, I was a private citizen who had just left my dream job,” he said. “40 years ago, I was washing dishes and taking out trash as a kid who needed a job. And to even have my name surfaced is so humbling.”
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Youngkin said he was disappointed by his party’s showing in the 2022 midterms, but highlighted Rep.-elect Jennifer Kiggans’ upset win over House January 6 Committee member Elaine Luria on the Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach.
Republicans had previously voiced hope that not only Kiggans would defeat Luria, but that Prince William County’s Yesli Vega would upset moderate Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, and potentially for political newcomer Hung Cao to unseat Rep. Jennifer Wexton in a much bluer district west of Washington, D.C.
However, the governor praised Kiggans’ win, noting he had predicted a House Republican majority would include a win or wins in Virginia.
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Youngkin said the election showed that voters statewide and nationwide want to “look forward, not backward” and added that incumbent Republican governors who were “delivering extraordinary results” were rewarded by voters in an otherwise underwhelming evening for the GOP.
Incumbent gubernatorial Republicans indeed fared well on Election Night, retaining their seats in Vermont, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Idaho, Wyoming, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska.
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Republicans also flipped the governorship in Nevada, where Las Vegas-area sheriff Joe Lombardo upset Democrat Steve Sisolak.
Of Trump, who endorsed Youngkin against McAuliffe, the governor said no one can deny the former president still has a “great influence” on the GOP, but added that other Republican figures do as well.
“I think part of the process over the next couple of years is to sort through that,” he said. “My job today is to deliver for Virginians, and I think the big message for all Republican candidates is to deliver results.”
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