Victory shows the GOP’s winning path in education
Phoenix — Virginia’s incoming governor, Glenn Youngkin, said Wednesday that his victory in a strong Democratic state showed a successful path for Republicans to talk about education, an issue he said the Republican Party “has historically been a little bit behind us.”
Yongkin spoke at the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Phoenix, where governors, donors and strategists were advancing with a win in a state where Democratic President Joe Biden won by 10 points just a year ago.
As a newcomer to politics, Yongkin won by capitalizing on the battles of the culture war over the curriculum, emphasizing parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s education under the motto, “Parents matter.”
“Polls kept telling us that education was the seventh, eighth, or ninth most important issue,” Yongkin said. “Let me tell you, it’s the number one issue right now, and Republicans across the country can own that subject.”
He said Republicans could win by pushing for “strong schools that teach our children how to excel, not softening the curriculum, a school where parents have a say in what their children learn.”
Yongkin’s victory raised alarm bells for Democrats, who were already facing the historically daunting challenge of running in the midterm elections with their party in control of the White House. It also provided a roadmap for Republicans in states where the party is weakest.
On top of his focus on parental rights, Yongkin focused extensively on domestic issues such as taxes and distanced himself from former President Donald Trump. He effectively walked a tightrope to appeal to suburban voters who had turned against Trump without antagonizing the former president’s ardent supporters.
He later told reporters that he considered focusing on the “kitchen table” economic issues and domestic over national politics as keys to his victory.
But the strategy may be difficult to replicate in states where Republicans face primaries that spur them to embrace Trump enthusiastically or take potentially damaging positions in the general election. Yongkin won the Republican nomination at a convention with a rank selection vote among a limited group of Republican voters.
Yongkin tacitly cautioned against citing the 2020 election, a strategy that runs counter to Trump’s persistent false claims that he lost it through fraud.
“I campaigned primarily to look forward and not look back,” he said, adding that he “plans to invest in our electoral process going forward so that Virginians can trust our electoral process.”
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is overseeing the party’s efforts to elect Republican governors as the GOP’s chair, called election integrity an important but “one among a number of issues.”
Arizona, which Biden narrowly won, was the center of Trump’s efforts to discredit the 2020 vote count when a group of his supporters, working on behalf of Senate Republicans, led an unprecedented partisan review of ballot papers and vote-counting machines in Maricopa County.
The review, which Trump allies called a “criminal scrutiny,” was widely criticized and elevated the status of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to replace Dossey, the time-limited.
Similar election reviews have been pushed in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two Democratic-led states that are among the top goals of the Republican Party.
While Youngkin emphasized his tireless focus on domestic issues, other GOP governors have highlighted what they see as the commitments of the Biden administration, including inflation, supply chain shortages, gas prices, border security, and the chaos surrounding the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The paradox could not be more stark for Republican governors,” said Nebraska Governor Peter Ricketts. “We provide that leadership. We are responsible for the results and we deliver the things that make the lives of the people in our countries better.”
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.