GLENN YOUNGKIN, the Republican former private equity executive running for governor in Virginia, touts himself as a non-politician and a “different kind of candidate.” But he has a veteran pol’s facile touch for the duck, the dodge, the pivot and the knowing wink at his party’s base.
“As your governor,” Mr. Youngkin told the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition at a forum in April, shortly before the GOP nominating convention, “we will stand for the unborn and protect the unborn like never before.” Now, as the party’s nominee, he allows only that he is “pro-life” and refuses to elaborate.
Would his “like never before” promise mean he would sign legislation restricting abortion starting at 20 weeks into pregnancy, as Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) did in Montana this spring, or as early as six weeks, as Gov. Greg Abbott (R) did in Texas? Would he back a measure to outlaw abortion immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) did in Oklahoma? Would he seek to reimpose the draconian restrictions on abortion clinics that prevailed in Virginia for five years, until 2016, which forced several to close by requiring them to meet hospital-like building standards?
Mr. Youngkin won’t say. Yet he is quick to assert he will do everything in his power — and, presumably, spend heavily from his personal fortune, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars — to help Republicans recapture control of the General Assembly, which they lost just two years ago. If he’s successful at that, he could easily be presented with antiabortion bills that mirror those enacted by other GOP-dominated states in recent months.
On guns, Mr. Youngkin mouths familiar platitudes about being a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and vows to stand up for Second Amendment rights. He says he would roll back measures signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, which might include universal background checks on all gun sales; so-called red flag authority that empowers judges to order guns seized from individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others; and a measure restricting handgun purchases to one a month.
But would Mr. Youngkin go further, for instance, by signing a bill to drop the state’s current requirement that gun owners undergo an in-person firearms training and safety course?
We put that question to the Youngkin campaign. Silence.
For Mr. Youngkin, silence on the substance of policy is a strategy. Unlike virtually every other gubernatorial candidate in both the Republican convention last month and the Democratic primary next week, Mr. Youngkin has no issues page on his website. As he introduces himself to voters, he needs to provide policy positions, and not just platitudes.