Who has the best blueprint for GOP victories in 2024?

WASHINGTON−The GOP is looking for the blueprint to win back the White House in 2024.

While the party grapples with Donald Trump’s influence, several Republicans have entered a crowded field of candidates trying to wrestle the nomination from the still very popular former president.

Once thought to have the greatest chance of defeating Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign has hit numerous roadblocks, including heavy staff cuts and the loss of major donors.

Some Republicans are now turning to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin as either a potential new candidate or the model for GOP success.

Who is Glenn Youngkin?

Youngkin was elected governor of Virginia in 2021. A political newcomer at the time, his victory over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe was a major upset and a triumph for his party coming off their 2020 defeats.

His surprising win escalated Youngkin to national name recognition. Prior to that, Youngkin spent 25 years at the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he became CEO in 2018.

“In the summer of 2020, I literally quit my job overnight and really dedicated myself to serving Virginians,” Youngkin told USA TODAY of his career change.

As governor, Youngkin can celebrate multiple recent accomplishments, including record-breaking fundraising by his political action committee, Spirit of Virginia, and a string of successful endorsements in the state primary elections. He also currently sits at his highest approval rating, according to a recent voter survey.

Youngkin’s current term ends January 2026. He could not run for governor again then, based on Virginia law that prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms.

The GOP’s potential ‘ideal candidate’

DeSantis had been considered by many anti-Trump Republicans as the solution for 2024. However, he has consistently trailed Trump in polls since announcing his campaign back in May. And just this week, his campaign staff announced it was letting go of over a third of its team.

“Following a top-to-bottom review of our organization, we have taken additional, aggressive steps to streamline operations,” DeSantis campaign manager Generra Peck said in a written statement about the cuts.

The reductions come after multiple wealthy donors have cut ties with DeSantis over his social stances.

Among them is Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire businessman, who after halting his contributions to DeSantis, signed a million-dollar check to Youngkin’s PAC. Peterffy also called Youngkin the “ideal candidate” for Republicans in next year’s election.

“I very much hope that he’s going to enter the race. People I speak to are all favorably inclined towards him,” Peterffy told Fox Business. “If he entered, I think there would be tremendous enthusiasm.”

What is Youngkin saying about 2024?

Nothing yet.

The governor told USA TODAY he is “incredibly focused” on this year, when elections for the state legislature come up in November.

Youngkin said he makes that fact clear to Peterffy and others who encourage him to make a bid for president.

“It’s really humbling when people talk about 2024 and a national role for me,” Youngkin said. “And I thank them, and then I reiterate that I’ve got a big job to do here in Virginia right now.”

With Youngkin’s support, Virginia Republicans hope to keep their majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and flip the State Senate. Youngkin said he is “cautiously optimistic” about their chances.

Virginia: a “blueprint” for the nation

The southern battleground state is a “microcosm” for the rest of America, Youngkin said.

“There are supporters from both inside Virginia and outside Virginia that not only are supporting what we’re doing but believe that it is a real blueprint,” he said.

Youngkin is particularly focused on the economy and education, as the issues he said are most important to voters in Virginia and nationwide.

“I hear every single day from parents that they’re concerned about the direction of schools, and they want a bigger say in their children’s lives,” Youngkin said.

Education became a key issue during Youngkin’s run for governor. During one of two debates between the candidates, Youngkin’s opponent, McAuliffe, said: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Youngkin’s campaign seized on the remark to win over angered Virginia parents.

“What we won’t do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race, where we divide them into buckets and one group is an oppressor and the other is a victim and we pit them against each other and we steal their dreams,” Youngkin said at the time during a final campaign rally, alluding to debates over critical race theory curriculum in schools.

Since moving into the governor’s mansion, Youngkin has continued to make education and parental rights a focus of his administration. His policies, particularly those reversing protections for transgender students in schools, have drawn criticism from youth and parents across the state.

“Revoking (transgender protections) now would be like dialing back the clock. It’d be like telling students, ‘we don’t really care, you’re not really who you believe yourself to be,'” a then-16 year old Virginia student, Andrea-Grace Mukuna, told USA TODAY amid a statewide school walkout last fall to protest guidelines requiring students to use restrooms, pronouns and names based on official school records.

Youngkin defended these and other education policies by his administration during a CNN town hall this March.

“Children belong to parents,” Youngkin said. “Not to the state, not to schools, not to bureaucrats, but to parents.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Youngkin becoming 2024 Republican favorite after DeSantis struggles

Leave a Comment