Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2022 11 Both parties would do well to consider these lessons as the 2022 congressional midterms—and the 2024 presidential election—approach. 1See: n1266722. 2The campaign was described in this National Public Radio story: 3See, for example: 4See, for example: TomW. Smith. 2005 “Intentional Undervotes in Presidential Elections, 1972-2000.” GSS Topical Report No. 39.; Stephen Knack and Martha Kropf. 2003. “Roll-Off at the Top of the Ballot: International Undervoting in American Presidential Elections.” Politics and Policy 31:4 (575-94). Lauren C. Bell is Professor of Political Science and Dean of Academic Affairs at Randolph-Macon College. On November 2nd, the people ofVirginia sent a message—they want a change in the direction of their state government. There are many reasons why Glenn Youngkin won the governorship over former Governor Terry McAuliffe. First, Youngkin proved to be a great candidate who ran a very good campaign. He kept his focus on the big issues facing families and businesses, and he worked incredibly hard. And amazingly, he kept the diverse base of the Republican Party united behind his candidacy. Second, McAuliffe did not run a good campaign. He did not give Virginians a reason to return him to the Governor’s office, and he failed to enthuse the Democratic voter base, especially Black voters. And he served up the issue of the campaign to Youngkin when he made that unfortunate statement about parents not being able to tell schools what to teach. Third, with President Biden’s approval ratings coming down like leaves in the fall, the national political mood was in the Republicans favor. But Younkin’s success did not just have its origins in 2021. In fact, his success had their real origins in 2019. In 2019, Democrats gained control of the entire leadership structure of our state government. They controlled the Governor’s office and had majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. They thought they had been given a mandate to enact liberal policies in Virginia, and they did just that. They raised taxes. They enacted liberal release policies at the Virginia Parole Board. They embraced the cancel culture and praised violent rioters. Some even talked about defunding the police. And they opened the door for liberal indoctrination in the public schools by advancing Critical Race Theory and transgender policies that offended fair mindedVirginia patents. The problem is that Democrats did not have a mandate to turn Virginia into eastern California. In 2019 they were given the chance to lead responsibly, in large part because voters felt that Republicans had failed to do that at the national level. But they failed to lead responsibly, and the very voters that gave them power in 2019 took it away in 2021. There is in this an important lesson for GlennYoungkin andVirginia Republicans. You have not been given a mandate either! You have been given a chance to lead responsibly. Voters will expect and support center right policies from Youngkin and the reclaimed Republican majority in the House of Delegates, but they will not accept far right-wing policies anymore than they accepted far left-wingpolicies. In short, ifRepublicans overplay their hand, their success will be equally short lived. This will create challenges for Youngkin. The base of the GOP will expect him to pursue an aggressive conservative agenda. He will not. He will pursue a mainstream agenda. He will do so because it is who he is, because he knows it is what Virginians want, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is all he can achieve with a Democratic majority in the State Senate. The question is, will the political ideologues and purists in the Republican Party be satisfied with a center right Governor? They should be, but will they?Youngkin masterfully held together the various factions in the GOP during the campaign, but he will have to work even harder to hold them together as he endeavors to govern. So, what can we expect Youngkin to accomplish, especially given the fact that Democrats still control the Senate of Virginia, at least for the next two years? During his campaign for governor, Youngkin talked a lot about his Game One Game Plan. There are certainly parts of this “game plan” that could receive bipartisan support. This could include: • EliminatingVirginia tax on groceries • Providing a onetime tax rebate to citizens • Increasing the standard deduction on income taxes • Increasing funding for law enforcement • Raising teacher pay to the national average …..and more. These are issues that many Democrats could also support. There are also things that Youngkin can accomplish over time through his executive appointment powers, such as: • Replacing the Virginia Board of Education • Replacing the Virginia Parole Board • Reducing “job killing” regulations …..and more. These are the issues Youngkin will likely focus on. Even though Terry McAuliffe tried to make voters believe that Glenn Youngkin was the political reincarnation of Donald Trump, he is not. Youngkin is more of a center right Republican. An establishment Republican. A proven business leader. His focus will be on making government work better for families and businesses. But there are also things that Youngkin cannot accomplish, either because he does not want to expend the political capital these issues would require; or because he knows he cannot successfully advance these issues through the Democratic controlled state Senate. No leader wants to spend time pursing things he knows he cannot accomplish. That does not build a solid resume. Issues such as: • Preventing local governments from increasing property taxes without voter approval • Creating new charter schools • Allowing educational funding to follow students to private or parochial schools • Restoring photo ID requirements to vote • Changing Virginia’s current laws regarding abortion, same sex marriage, etc. What Can We Expect From The Youngkin Administration? By BILL BOLLING See What Can We Expect From The Youngkin Administration?, Continued on page 13 Continued from previous page V