Is Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin the 11th-Hour Dream Candidate of the Republican Donor Class?

AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

Popular Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is not running for president in 2024 — or is he? 

While the first-term governor has repeatedly said he's focused only on his own state — Don't they always say that? — he's been more than coy in his answers to direct questions about a potential presidential candidacy. 

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Might Youngkin be coaxed to enter the race in the proverbial 11th hour if it appears that the GOP is in dire straits with the presidential election hanging in the balance? Again, aren't "they" always? 

While my opinion is irrelevant, here — as are the opinions of untold numbers of keyboard jockeys across the country — multiple wealthy Republican donors apparently believe Youngkin could indeed become the white knight that rescues the GOP from itself if called upon to do so.

But again, would Youngkin do it? Here's a bit of relevant background:

In a slick video posted on social media earlier this year, Virginia’s Republican governor Glenn Youngkin contemplates America’s future.

“We can usher in a new era of American values,” Youngkin narrates over images of him speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and strolling a White House-esque colonnade. “The stakes are high, and the consequences couldn’t be greater.”

The video, paid for by Youngkin’s fundraising vehicle, Spirit of Virginia, looks a lot like a presidential campaign advertisement.

It sure does.

Fifty-six-year-old Youngkin, worth roughly $500 million after spending 25 years with the private equity firm Carlyle Group, has reportedly been actively courted by deep-pocketed Republican donors to challenge the current GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

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A former Carlyle colleague gleefully said of Youngkin: “The presidential pot is simmering, and he is happy to stir it."

However, the always coy Virginia governor continues to hide his cards, as it were. Youngkin told Fox News in early September:

I’m not in Iowa at the state fair. I’m campaigning in Virginia for Virginians, not around the country.

If that statement eerily reminds you of similar statements made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — for months — before he finally jumped into the 2024 GOP presidential field, you're not alone. 

Moreover, it's a safe bet that Youngkin is keenly aware that the anticipation of DeSantis entering the race proved to be — so far, that is — far more promising than the support he's received since doing so.

Like Trump, Youngkin was a political novice when he announced his 2022 gubernatorial bid in Virginia. But after his electoral victory, his stock in the Republican Party rose significantly, particularly given that he won over centrist suburban voters who largely abandoned Trump in 2020.

Here's more:

Youngkin’s campaign ethos was on display on a recent weekday afternoon in Leesburg, (Va.), an affluent suburb about 40 miles west of Washington. More than 200 voters packed an auditorium at Cornerstone Chapel, an evangelical mega church, to hear the governor speak at what was billed as a “Parents Matter” forum.

For more than an hour, Youngkin — who had removed his suit jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves after stepping on stage — fielded questions from voters and scribbled in a notebook, vowing to address their concerns on everything from classroom sizes to sex education to the rights of transgender students in schools.

A social conservative and evangelical Christian, Youngkin pointed to his faith several times. Parents should be “empowered to play the role in their children’s lives . . . God granted us”, he said. “There’s only been one perfect person in the history of this planet.”

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So again, could Glenn Youngkin potentially save the Republican Party from itself?

The Bottom Line

Even if Youngkin does see himself as a potential 11th-hour white knight, he has every good reason to keep his powder dry — for now. God knows what's to come between now and November 5, 2024.

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