If Ron DeSantis thought he was just going to stroll up and get the GOP nomination handed to him, by now he must be rethinking that possibility. Not only are Donald Trump’s poll numbers rising, but different people are entering the race. And one person who may enter the race is Glenn Youngkin, who has none of DeSantis’s baggage and a lot of upside that DeSantis lacks. Simply, if Youngkin does decide to jump in the race, he could eclipse DeSantis’s chances severely either this year or possibly in 2028. Youngkin has the advantage, like Brian Kemp, of being one governor that is not beholden to Trump nor is afraid to publicly disagree with him. DeSantis can’t afford this level of competition. Axios:

Why it matters: Youngkin, 56 — who beat former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) for the Old Dominion governor’s mansion in 2021 — is a leading potential future face of the Republican Party. He’s Christian and conservative — but not as Trumpy as many of the GOP’s current stars.

What’s happening: Youngkin told Richmond reporters in April that he was focused on this fall’s Virginia legislative races.

  • “Listen, I didn’t write a book, and I’m not in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina,” he said. “I am wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

  • But that has changed amid a rocky few months for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy Wednesday.

What we’re hearing: Some powerful GOP donors, who won’t support Trump but are beginning to be concerned about DeSantis, are encouraging Youngkin to jump into the 2024 field.

  • “He’s reconsidering,” a top source close to Youngkin told Axios. “He’d be in his own lane: He’s not never-Trump, and he’s not Trump-light.”

  • A top Virginia GOP strategist told Axios there are “serious discussions happening on re-engaging in the presidential” race.

Youngkin faces high-stakes state legislative races in November. So an announcement about a presidential race is likely to wait until right after that, Republican sources said.

  • A senior Youngkin aide told Axios: “If the guy flips any seats at all, it’s proof that his political machine is ready to go.”

Youngkin did do a trial balloon last week with his video.

Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to self immolate, while he’s planning to announce his race for the White House formally this week. It remains to be seen how well DeSantis fares with big money GOP donors after his ongoing contretemps with Disney, not to mention his grossly unpopular abortion law. DeSantis’s race may be a short one.

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  1. Here’s Youngkin’s problem. He did in fact play up kinship with Trump positions and express support for Trump during his campaign. I still wonder how he managed to keep Trump out of Virginia except via a handful of video appearances at events. But Youngkin managed to play the role of Trumpism without the Trumpiness. He also was in early on the “Woke” crap, and McCauliffe who never had a likeability factor to begin with really stepped in it late in the campaign and gave Youngkin devastating ammo for an attack ad about parental rights that played particularly well in a sprawling, well populated and conservative exurban area (Loudoun County).

    Given the antics of the “anti-Woke” crowd with the book burnings and rewriting history books and curriculums & that it’s already causing backlash I don’t assume Woke will play as well for the GOP next year as they think it will. In fact it could wind up hurting them some. So that issue is at best a maybe for Youngkin. Then you have Youngkin’s views on abortion & reproductive rights and also guns, both of which are at odds with national sentiment. Youngkin has at least some savvy and has been low key in trying to advance his agenda on these issues but he’s working at it nonetheless. That will get exposed in the glare of the spotlight a major Presidential candidate steps into. Not to mention some of his appointees are freak-a$$ zealots. Finally, add in the fact that the commercial you showed is NOT the way Youngkin comes across on the campaign trail. A loaf of week old store brand white bread is more appealing.

    Add all that together and I think for a little while Youngkin might get traction with donors and some in the GOP looking for a not Trump but not DeSantis either. However I don’t see that lasting long. And if as is quite possible Democrats kick his but in this fall’s election he’ll be branded the loser he is. But I think you’re right that he’s now experiencing a bout of Presidential fever. Still, when it comes to GOP Governor’s if Kasich decides to stay retired from politics (he is after all past 70 now) the one to watch out for is the other guy you’ve mentioned. Brian Kemp. He’s got issues too but not as bad as Youngkin and if the GOP has an outbreak of sanity and flees Trump then because Kemp kept his distance AND if he doesn’t interfere with prosecution of Trump in GA on state charges that could play well with Independent voters.

  2. Not that I’d ever want Youngkin* to run but if he hopes to have any REAL shot at a 2024 Presidential run for the GOP nomination, he’s GOT to announce before November. Most states require at least 3 months or so before the primary election day so that the ballots can be printed and verified (not to mention the need for absentee ballots–most states won’t mail out absentee ballots within 2 weeks of an election but start sending them out 30-60 days beforehand). And, this year, the November election date is set for November 7 and, at present, the Iowa GOP caucuses are set for January 22, 2024 (with the New Hampshire GOP primary set for January 30); waiting to announce until after November election results would make it INCREDIBLY difficult to get any kind of real caucus support (in 2 months? I don’t think so) and almost no chance of getting on the NH primary ballot.

    While the Dems have criticized the continuing “first in the nation” status for Iowa and New Hampshire, largely due to a lack of diversity in the electorate, that isn’t usually a problem for GOPers.

    *For all the “not never-Trump, not Trump-lite” BS being thrown around, he’s more like “Trump in sheep’s clothing”–show me ONE thing he’s done that really distinguishes Youngkin from DeSantis in terms of actual governance of his state.


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