A first-time candidate who ran as an outsider, but possessed of the dexterous rhetorical skills of a seasoned pol, Mr. Youngkin will likely make a formidable candidate in the fall against whomever wins next month’s Democratic primary. (At the moment, former governor Terry McAuliffe, running to reclaim his old job, is the clear front-runner.) That said, Mr. Youngkin will and should be tested, because until now he has faced no real scrutiny for his largely substance-free platform or highly questionable assertions.
For instance, he regularly blames Democrats, who have won every statewide election in Virginia for a decade, for the state’s “crushing” economy, which he compares unfavorably to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Maryland. In fact, the unemployment rate in Virginia is as low or lower than in most of those states, and under both Republican and Democratic governors, its per capita gross domestic product has grown faster than all but Maryland’s over the past 20 years. He says Virginia’s tax burden has driven away businesses. That would be news to Amazon, whose decision to locate its second headquarters in Arlington was a coup for the state; the truth is that the commonwealth’s tax burden ranks almost exactly in the middle of the 50 states. (Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post.)
Mr. Youngkin pretends that his so-called election integrity task force — his only detailed policy proposal and code for the Trumpist lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent — is nonpartisan. That claim won’t withstand scrutiny; in reality, it would make voting more difficult for hundreds of thousands of Virginians while doing nothing to impede electoral fraud, which is close to nonexistent.
Nor will voters miss a disconnect between his empathetic vow to improve health care for the disadvantaged in the “world’s wealthiest country,” and his remark that it was “sad” to expand Medicaid in Virginia. That “sad” measure, enacted in 2018 with bipartisan support, extended health coverage to roughly half a million uninsured residents.
As for his assertion that Democrats have “defunded” the police, that may be red meat for the GOP base. It’s also an empty charge — no prominent Virginia Democrat supports the policy.
Mr. Youngkin, who was co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, before he quit to run for governor, touts his 30-year business career as the centerpiece of a pro-business pitch to create a “rip-roaring economy.” As it happens, Mr. McAuliffe, another millionaire who got rich in the private sector, boasts his own pro-business bona fides — along with a track record in office to prove it. Virginians have good cause to look forward to a hard-fought fall campaign.