By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Aug. 20 — Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin made a political stop in Luray on Friday during his busy schedule on the campaign trail.
“Somebody asked me the other day, Glenn why are you all over the place?” Youngkin told a crowd of more than 50 gathered at GOP election headquarters on East Main Street. He noted visits to the far corners of the state, from the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention to Virginia Beach.
“It’s called running for governor,” Youngkin said. “It’s an action verb.”
The former CEO of the the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group will face off Nov. 2 with former Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe for the commonwealth’s top executive position. While nearly all polls show the former Democratic governor as the clear frontrunner in the race, Youngkin believes the bout is a statistical dead heat.
“We’re head to head, neck and neck…and we’re going into the fourth quarter,” the Republican hopeful told the crowd. “We’re going to outwork this guy.”
Youngkin criticized McAuliffe for recently visiting Martha’s Vineyard, while he was campaigning in Virginia. And the Republican said he was seeing a lot of “red” as he criss-crossed the state.
“This commonwealth is coming alive like never before…something special is going on in Virginia and it’s so thick you can cut it with a knife,” Youngkin said. “What’s happening is we’re going to win.”
With 29 days left until early voting begins, Youngkin urged local Republicans to vote early and encourage others to get out and vote early. The GOP strategy is clearly to run up numbers in rural Republican strongholds — like Page County — to counter the large number of Democratic votes in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region.
“The nation is watching,” Youngkin said on Friday. “We’re voting…not just on behalf of Virginia, but our nation as well because a lot is at stake. We’re going to bring more voters to the polls than in any [previous] gubernatorial election.”
Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain (26th-Harrisonburg) got the GOP-faithful fired up before introducing the gubernatorial candidate.
“If the performance of the guy in the White House isn’t enough to motivate us then nothing is,” Obenshain said.
The longtime state senator pushed a lot of “red buttons” as he worked up to his introduction of Youngkin, noting that the nation needs to stop “buying into this ‘woke’ nonsense” and joked about wearing masks with a punchline that ended with a doctor allegedly saying, “This mask is as useless as President Biden.”
“It’s time to retake the House of Delegates,” Obenshain said to applause, noting that local delegate, Todd Gilbert (15th-Woodstock) would become the new Speaker of the House if the GOP is able to turn the tide in November.
“We’ve got to have a Republican preside over the Virginia Senate to break ties,” Obenshain continued. “And this is a must…we must win the race for governor because I believe if we don’t win this one, I believe Virginia is lost for a generation to come.”
As Youngkin took the microphone, he quickly drew “stark contrasts” between himself and his Democratic challenger, first focusing on one of the biggest topics of the race — public safety. Youngkin noted a 20-year high in murders and overall rise in crime due to law enforcement lacking proper equipment and manpower. He also touted the unified endorsement of 50 sheriffs from across the state.
“We’re going to stand up for those who stand up for us,” Youngkin said, “and they are going to know the governor has their backs.”
“The people who are running Virginia really do buy into the ‘defund the police’ philosophy,” Obenshain stated in his earlier remarks. “They believe that law enforcement is the enemy…I am appalled.”
Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage joined the event after Youngkin’s comments began, but he took a few moments at one point to issue his own endorsement.
“Early on after Glenn’s decision to run for governor, we contacted his staff about a few things…and within several weeks, they were already working on a plan to address the things we had talked about…I’ve put in calls to the Governor’s office and have never even gotten a return phone call,” Sheriff Cubbage said. “They are not just talkers, they are doers, and Glenn, I’m behind you all the way.”
Youngkin also took the opportunity to speak out about education and how he planned to “fix the curriculum” in Virginia’s public schools by banning the teaching of critical race theory and “re-establishing teaching” by teaching students “how to think, not what to think.” The Republican insisted that “parents know the best for their kids” and voiced his support for school choice by supporting more charter schools (what he dubbed “innovation schools”).
On the economy, Youngkin stated he wanted to see the government “not paying benefits and encouraging people to get back to work.” He wants to take away regulations that “slow down business” and preserve Virginia’s status as a “right to work” state.
“I predict you will lose that if Terry McAulliffee is governor,” Youngkin said of the “right to work” laws.
Youngkin also vowed to voters — on at least two occasions during the 30-minute speech — to “stand up for our constitutional rights.”
“That’s our First Amendment rights, our Second Amendment rights and our 10th Amendment rights,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin spoke out against mandates handed down by current Governor Ralph Northam on masks, business and schools.
“There will no lockdowns in Virginia,” he stated to a round of applause. “It’s about all of us as Virginians. We do not follow, we lead. This is our chance to lead for Virginia and for our country…for our country, we’re choosing a different direction…We are going to change the future of this commonwealth and the future of this country.”
In his bid to become the 74th governor of Virginia, Youngkin noted that he will need volunteers — not just fundraising and working the telephones for the next two months, but also working election precincts on Election Day.
“In 2000, Gore said they ‘stole the presidency’…so it’s not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue…we have to restore confidence in voting again,” Youngkin said. “We’re asking for a lot of volunteers to staff the polls. We’re doing everything we can to ensure every legal vote is counted and every vote matters.”
Despite the room’s confidence that Youngkin will win the fall election, one supporter in attendance asked the Republican candidate to “promise never to concede” because “they stole this last election.”
“I think we’re going to run great elections this fall,” Youngkin replied. “I can’t promise you I won’t concede because I’m going to do what’s best for Virginia.”
“We can’t look back,” Youngkin added. “We have to look forward.”
Youngkin, Sears to visit Luray on Friday
November ballot set as filing deadline passes with only 1 local race contested
Youngkin needs to run away from Trump. Bending the knee to a cult leader is not going to win him any votes from Christians.