Republican Nomination for Guv Now a Free-for-All

Glenn A. Youngkin

by James A. Bacon

The Republican race for governor gets more interesting by the day. Initially, it looked like a race between two well-known politicians: former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox and Chesterfield Senator Amanda Chase — an establishment figure versus a Trump insurgent.

Then Merle Rutledge, an African American from Southside, threw his hat in the ring. Admittedly, he’s a fringe candidate who seems to be running a one-man campaign. The media have consistently ignored his existence, never mentioning his name when listing the Republican candidates, which, frankly, strikes me as kind of racist. But he is colorful, as anyone who visits his campaign website can see.

On Monday Glenn Youngkin, who has childhood roots in Chesterfield County and lives in Northern Virginia, officially announced his candidacy. Independently wealthy after a career with the Carlyle Group, the Washington, D.C.-based private equity giant, he retired in September to focus on “community and public service efforts.” He and his wife launched the nonprofit Virginia Ready Institute to retain workers idled by COVID-19.

Youngkin has never held public office, which he sees as a selling point. Virginians are tired of the political games they’ve seen on the right and the left over the last few years,” Youngkin’s campaign manager Garrison Coward told The Washington Post. “The political insiders have been smothering Virginians’ best interests with their special interests. Glenn is a breath of fresh air that will bring conservative solutions to everyday problems.” He has the background and looks of someone who can win support in the business community.

Sergio de la Peña

Another Republican, Sergio de la Peña, a Fairfax County resident, army veteran and Trump administration official, also announced his candidacy Monday. After a 30-year military career, he served the Trump administration as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs. In a state in which the military has such a strong presence, his army background might help him with an important constituency. What makes de la Peña an unusual candidate for the Republican Party is the fact that he is a Mexican immigrant — albeit a legal one. It will be interesting to see if can make inroads in Virginia’s growing Hispanic community.

De la Peña told Inside NoVa he is running for governor because “the American Dream is under assault from far-left socialists seeking to destroy this country by attacking our freedoms and values. It’s here in Virginia, the birthplace of American democracy, the land of our Founding Fathers, that we make a stand.”

A couple of days ago I published a post exploring the potential for a Virginia GOP meltdown in a two-way race between Cox and Chase, pitting Trump partisans against Republicans who’ve had enough of the soon-to-be-ex president. The entry of two new candidates scrambles that calculus. From the bits I can glean from published reports, Youngkin comes across as a pragmatic, results-oriented establishment Republican. De la Peña likely fits into the Trump wing of the party. His advantage is that he has none of the baggage that Chase has accumulated for herself. However, one can be certain that if he gains traction, opposition researchers will ransack his tenure as a Trump administration official for discrediting information. If the blacklisting of Trump officials gains momentum, his service could become a big detriment.

The Democratic Party of Virginia has just as many gubernatorial candidates, but there’s not as much riding on the outcome. The DPV isn’t facing an existential schism like Republicans are. Can one of the GOP candidates paper over the deep fissures within the party and emerge as a credible contender this fall? Grab the popcorn and settle in for an entertaining spectacle.

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42 responses to “Republican Nomination for Guv Now a Free-for-All

  1. Vacuums have consequences.

    Wonder what Amada’s doing on Saturday? I can’t imagine an FBI agent taking guff over a parking space. Although I’d like to.

  2. Looks like the nominating process on both sides of the aisle may be circular firing squads

  3. Baconator with extra cheese

    I say we get behind Merle…. if only for the fun of smashing their narative and watching the democrats tell the population that Terry is best choice for the Black community.
    Likewise I was excited for Kanye for the same reason… until they crushed him.

  4. And more to come…

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I like Merle Rutledge. Chatham, Virginia man. He has a very interesting platform that could reach across dividing points such as class, race, and where you live. It might look like a mash of ideas but I think they are appealing to working class Virginians. This is the sort of platform that could take root one day for Republicans.

  6. Do I follow them on Facebook or Twitter? Neither clearly has any of my email addresses since I read this first on Bacon’s Rebellion. Rumors persist that a primary is still possible so things really are up in the air. Chase can easily win a multiple candidate primary.

  7. I knew Glenn Youngkin when he was a schoolmate and friend of my son’s at Norfolk Academy. He was universally respected and liked there. I found him mature beyond his years and a very nice young man. He was also a terrific basketball player and got a scholarship to Rice.

    I followed his career at Carlyle Group. His reputation in the business community is flawless. He has been a committed philanthropist for many years.

    I can’t think of a better candidate for governor from either party, not only because of his personal virtues, but because he recognizes and has called out the original sin in Richmond, political corruption.

    He is my candidate for governor.

    • Interesting. I agree that political corruption is the issue in Virginia. If Younkin really gets after that … he may become my candidate too.

    • Carlyle Group, don’t tell Michael Moore, he’ll weave a conspiracy that Mr. Youngkin is being controlled from beyond the grave by FPOTUS G.H.W. Bush.

      However, I’m rather certain “Twitter” wouldn’t remove that.

    • Yes sounds interesting choice. Maybe I can actually vote for person one day, instead of skipping over to the BOND issues on the ballot. But I’ll tell you what my marriage is more important, and one of these guys better be decent. Otherwise I will be out on streets if I vote Repub for any candidate, even if a candidate saved 100000 lives they are complete Deplorables.

    • Looks alot like Earle Williams. Let’s hear the message. He’s way late to this if there is a convention, but sounds like he expects the flip back to primary.

  8. “Youngkin has never held public office, which he sees as a selling point…”

    Electing a Republican businessman with no political experience has been great for the country so let’s do it again at the state level!

    • I knew that was coming sooner or later…

    • Terry McAuliffe never held elected office before he became governor either.

      • But he bundled loads of money for the Clinton’s, no other experiences is needed according to some.

      • But that’s okay because Terry McAuliffe is a democrat and democrats can do no wrong…

      • Then he’s a potentially compelling argument that a Democratic businessman with no political experience* might deserve a second look, although that would very much not be my preference.

        *I would argue that the type of fundraising McAuliffe did was political experience by proxy, but I wouldn’t waste more than this sentence on that argument.

        • “*I would argue that the type of fundraising McAuliffe did was political experience by proxy, but I wouldn’t waste more than this sentence on that argument.”

          Bundling money isn’t experience, it’s parting a fool and their money (aka) con artist. We know how you feel about the one who’s currently President, stop being a hypocrite.

          • Baconator with extra cheese

            Nah… bundling money for politicians is real work. Now setting up an EV factory that never produces anything while taking money may be considered a con.

    • Your unwillingness to consider Glenn Younkin’s life and political principles rather than the (R) behind his name does you no credit.

  9. Gotta say, I like this Rutledge guy. Serious Libertarian. Puts all his policies out on his WordPress site. No hiding or equivocating.

    “Pro Marijuana”

    Farmers need to be able to produce hemp without any government intrusion. Marijuana users in Virginia will be able to possess a firearm as there has been no evidence that this has reduced crime at all. Marijuana will be legal and all criminal offenses related to it will be expunged. We need to fix the damage caused by the criminalization of Marijuana. We need to get people back working and being productive citizens. We need prosecutors focused on more serious crime and not wasting resources on appeals by the possession of marijuana. Let me be frank, we are wasting too much money and causing too much harm by keeping marijuana illegal.

    Go Merle!

  10. Let’s see if there is any early money in VPAP flowing…

  11. My personal favorite so far is Merle Rutledge.

  12. “A couple of days ago I published a post exploring the potential for a Virginia GOP meltdown…”

    Your statement implies that the Virginia GOP has not already had a meltdown…

    • The RPV convention in Harrisonburg in 2016 was as well run as the DC DMV.

      That was the last RPV convention I ever attended, and likely will ever attend.

    • Comstock is trying to make headlines again…facepalm

      • The 10th district Republican committee always seemed to have more than it’s share of drama, going back to when Jim Rich was the chairman.

        These days, I couldn’t tell you (without looking it up) who is the chairman of the 10th district Republican committee. That’s probably because I don’t really care 🙂

        • Well regardless of their disfunction, they’ll not be getting anyone elected in that District again anytime soon.

          I’m not exactly sure what someone from McLean has in common with someone from Purcellville, so the odds you’re going to get equal representation ain’t gonna happen.

          • I think Wolf saw the writing on the wall and figured he’d retire rather than be voted out.

          • True enough, I honestly don’t know what the district looked like prior to 2013 when I moved there. However, given my time in Fairfax and Chantilly I don’t foresee Wexton not being a lifer.

          • I would say that the district took a sharp left turn right around 2006/2008.

          • Ah when the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) saw the writing in the checkbook and need to boost numbers.

          • Also after the Great Housing Market Bubble and Crash.

            I recall Corey Stewart (Prince William County BOS chairman at the time) being blamed for that due to his “immigration crackdown”.

            Never explained is how actions in PWC affected the nationwide housing market.

          • Everyone always had someone to blame.

            I do know that the townhouse we rented in South Riding was an end unit, across the divider strip the townhouse sold for ~510,000 in 2019 with minimal upgrades. That was a net profit of ~$146,000 for the seller.

          • In 2006 I could have sold my Manassas Park townhouse for $500,000.

            I ended up selling it in 2018 for $275,000.

            Should’ve taken the money and ran back in 2006!

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