Youngkin Scores Some Legislative Wins as He Eyes White House

Virginia Gov. Virginia Governor. Glenn Youngkin quickly rose from political novice to potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee. He kicked off the state’s legislative session in January with a statement to lawmakers: “To get more done, and to get it done quicker.”

The former private equity executive is now done with his second session of working with Virginia’s divided General Assembly. He has won a number of wins that could help him in the White House race.

Many of his legislative priorities such as the push for tax cuts and restrictions on abortion access are being held up by budget negotiations. Other proposals, such as those to limit abortion access and tighten criminal penalties, were blocked by the Democrats in control of the state Senate.

Youngkin is one of the Republican governors who are eyeing the White House. He hopes to gain political momentum after preside over productive legislative sessions this past year. For example, Florida’s governor is Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis intends to use the session that started last week to promote conservative priorities. Youngkin’s Virginia divided legislature has made it more difficult.

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He got many solid singles in the middle and a few doubles against the wall. Big home runs? “Not yet,” Chris Saxman, an ex-Republican member of the House of Delegates and the founder of a nonpartisan organization that focuses on the intersection of Virginia politics and business, said.

Youngkin will continue to work to improve his priorities at home in the weeks ahead — he can suggest amendments to bills which will be considered in April. Youngkin has also made it a point to maintain a national profile as demonstrated by his Thursday night appearance at a CNN town hall. He is now back traveling and has not stopped the chatter about possible 2024 runs. However, he did give indirect answers about his plans but said that his main priority was his current job.

Virginia law prohibits him from running for a second term as governor. His four-year term began January 2022.

“That’s my current focus. Youngkin stated that Virginia still has a lot of work to do.

The continued media appearances in the national media and travel to New York, including for donor meetings, have drawn criticism from a few Republicans and from Virginia Democrats who believe he is focusing on higher office at the expense of the state.

The Democrats in control of the state Senate celebrated their ability to be a “brick wall” that was able to block many of Youngkin’s priorities and House Republicans’ attempts to pass a 15-week ban on abortions.

They did however find common ground on some issues.

This is the first piece of legislation that Governor Hassan has signed with a formal bill-signing. It aims to make it easier to get work in Virginia for licensed or skilled workers like barbers and cosmetologists.

Youngkin stated that the bill and a business-backed measure streamlining currently-scattered workforce developmental programs under one agency were two of the most pleasing measures.

Consumer advocates have praised his administration for its role in a compromise measure that restored some oversight to regulators that set rates and profitability at Dominion Energy, the politically powerful utility that controls the state’s largest monopoly electricity utility.

A bill to adopt a new definition for antisemitism within state code is expected to be signed by the governor. This, according to supporters, will allow Virginia’s government and police to track hate crimes against the Jewish community. He was also pleased to announce the passage of several bills designed to counter the threat from China. One such bill would ban foreign adversaries purchasing or otherwise acquiring agricultural land.

Youngkin revealed that he had stopped a state effort to locate a large-sized electric vehicle battery plant. This was an initiative between Ford Motor Co., and a Chinese company, which Youngkin said in the beginning of the session. The governor’s office called the project a “front for the Chinese Communist Party” that could raise national security concerns.

Tom Davis, an ex-Republican congressman from Virginia, believes Youngkin is well-positioned for a presidential run. He suggested that the Ford plant could be of assistance to him. Davis stated that the Ford plant “kind of protects Youngkin” from political attacks as Republicans, particularly presidential contenders have been taking a more hard line against China over recent months. Davis also said that the move “kind-of immunizes Youngkin from possible political attacks during his time as coCEO at The Carlyle Group, when the private equity firm did business in China.

Youngkin’s request for $1 billion more in personal and corporate income tax cuts than the $4 billion he signed last year is being held up by budget negotiations that could drag out for months. His proposal to increase mental health spending, expand school literacy, and improve school innovation is also a great idea.

Youngkin’s abortion bill was rejected. However, Virginia gained national attention after the White House testified against a bill that would have banned police from issuing search warrants for digital data regarding women’s periods. Youngkin’s office claimed that the bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support would hamper law enforcement. The governor did not approve the measure.

Youngkin spoke to reporters on the last day of the session and accused Democrats of being inflexible on “commonsense issues”. He also sought a bill that would have allowed prosecutors murder charges against drug dealers if someone dies from an overdose. Youngkin and Suzanne, his wife, have made fentanyl prevention a top priority through their advocacy work. This issue has been a major focus for Republican politicians as well as presidential candidates.

Recent polling shows that Youngkin is the first Republican to lead Virginia for more than a decade. He also has high approval ratings in a state Biden won with a 10 percent margin. Democrats claim that Youngkin’s policies are not in line with voters. They will flip the state House to keep the Senate, and they will do so in November when all 140 legislative seats will be on the ballot.

“Glenn Youngkin gave us a wonderful gift. He has given us issues and defined the difference between electing Democrats or right-wing Republicans,” Susan Swecker (chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia) said recently.

Davis views the political divide in a different way. Davis stated that having Senate Democrats drop the cold water on Youngkin’s priorities would only benefit him if he runs for president, making him a “perfect foil,” for his conservative policies.

Davis stated that “they aren’t fights which hurt the governor on a national basis.” They’ve likely advanced his national stature for the Republican nomination, I believe.”