GOP Is Dead Serious About Retaking Governor’s Mansion

by Kerry Dougherty

Wow. They’re serious. The Republicans really want to win in November and they set aside their predictable losing behavior to do it by nominating outsider multi-millionaire Glenn Youngkin to be the next governor of Virginia.

This gambit might not work, but in an unusual election year, it could. The Democrats and Gov. Ralph Northam have made so many mistakes that there are rich issues to mine that may resonate with Northern Virginia’s liberal wine moms.

Virginia’s schools, for instance: The desultory rate of reopening, thanks to Dems being in bed with the militant teacher’s unions is a scandal. So is the dumbing down of education due to DOE’s policies that are headed toward eliminating advanced math before 11th grade and advanced diplomas when students graduate.

Then there’s public safety and the Parole Board’s shenanigans as they set killers loose.

These are red-hot issues that will appeal to moderate Democrats. If there are any left in the commonwealth.

But first, a bit about the voting method that led to the Youngkin nomination:

Ranked voting is an intriguing way to select candidates in multi-candidate races.

I first encountered a version of the method when I lived in Ireland in the early 1980s and the parliamentary government kept collapsing, resulting in three general elections in 18 months. I covered the chaos for American publications and became fascinated with what the Irish called “proportional representation.”

Ranked voting allows a voter to cast a ballot for a long-shot candidate, without feeling that a vote had been wasted. That’s because after making a first choice, the voter picks a second, third, fourth, etc.

Once the ballots are tallied and no candidate tops 50 percent, the last place finisher is eliminated and his or her second-choice votes are distributed. And so it goes until one candidate finally wins a majority.

Virginia Republicans tried rank-choice voting through “disassembled” conventions Saturday, which is why at 10 p.m. on Monday night a winner in the gubernatorial category hadn’t yet been announced. But Youngkin, the wealthy former CEO of The Carlyle Group, had 42% of the vote, compared to 32% for businessman Pete Snyder and 25% for State Sen. Amanda Chase. Four other candidates had already been scratched.

Finally, Chase, a far-right state senator who “called on Donald Trump to hold onto the White House by declaring martial law” in January, according to a report in The Washington Post, was out. Her votes were distributed, pushing Youngkin over the top.

For once, Republicans hadn’t nominated the safe guy: Former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, a smart, seasoned politician and retired government teacher. Cox is reliable and steady but lacking in charisma and more importantly, without a war chest that could compete with the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Oh, and the GOP didn’t nominate the unelectable candidate, either: Chase.

Instead, they went for the man with deep, deep pockets — Youngkin’s reportedly worth somewhere between $250 million and $385 million — who will be able to flood the commonwealth with enough campaign spots to drown out McAuliffe’s campaign.

McAuliffe will presumably be flush with money. Again. Out-of-state unions, eager to see Virginia’s right-to-work laws scrapped will shower loot on the Democratic candidates. So will the DNC, environmental groups and abortion enthusiasts.

It’s going to take a lot of cash to counter the well-financed McAuliffe machine.

Youngkin, who could self-finance his race for Richmond, may be the man to do it.

He went from being unknown in Virginia politics to front-runner in a matter of months after he loaned his campaign $5 million to launch an expensive advertising blitz that blanketed the commonwealth.

If Youngkin pounds the Democrats for closing schools and nails them on public safety issues he could be the first Republican since Bob McDonnell to make inroads in that huge patch of blue known as Northern Virginia.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployoed & Unedited.