As the General Assembly election in November approaches and state filing deadlines for the 2024 presidential election loom, the speculation about Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s potential presidential bid has only increased. While he hasn’t explicitly stated his intentions, it’s clear that many saw him as a potential candidate even before he was elected governor. However, political experts like Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science and international affairs, believe that Youngkin’s focus should remain on helping his party in the upcoming election.
According to Farnsworth, Youngkin doesn’t offer a compelling message that more experienced politicians haven’t already provided. The only scenario in which Youngkin’s candidacy could be appealing is if former President Trump doesn’t run again, which seems unlikely at this point. Even if Trump were to step aside, Youngkin would still need certain factors to align to become a competitive presidential candidate.
Youngkin’s surprising victory in the 2021 gubernatorial race caught many by surprise, considering Virginia’s blue-leaning nature. However, the upcoming general election will be a crucial test for Youngkin to prove his political promise. Republicans will be watching to see if he has enough influence to help them retain control of the House and flip the Senate.
One of the challenges for Youngkin is his limited legislative accomplishments due to the Democratic control of the state Senate. Without a trifecta in November, he won’t have a long list of achievements to showcase compared to other Republican candidates. Farnsworth explains that governors in Virginia only have four years to make a significant impact, making it crucial for Youngkin to achieve something quickly.
Joe Szymanski from Elections Daily shares the sentiment, noting that Youngkin’s win in Virginia alone isn’t enough to build a strong presidential campaign. Moreover, Szymanski believes it would be nearly impossible for Youngkin to meet the filing deadlines for important early-voting states.
Despite the reservations about Youngkin’s potential presidential bid, Farnsworth suggests there is value in being considered for one. Being talked about as a candidate can provide Youngkin with greater benefits than actually running against Trump in 2024.
While Farnsworth and Szymanski don’t view a 2024 bid favorably, they believe Youngkin could have a more promising chance in 2028 if Trump doesn’t win in 2024. Farnsworth compares Youngkin to Bill Clinton in 1992, where Democrats were eager for change after a string of losses, positioning Youngkin as a potential alternative.