Story by By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin cast Virginia’s legislative races in monumental terms when he campaigned with a Republican candidate in one of the most competitive districts a few days before the election.
The first-term governor with growing national recognition told a cheering crowd at a historic waterside venue that voters could help build on the “movement” he started with his own victory in 2021 by handing the party full control of the statehouse and keeping the “spirit of Virginia” alive.
After Tuesday’s voting didn’t go as he had hoped, the rhetoric was less soaring.
“I’m here,” he said at a postmortem news conference. “I’m not going anywhere.”
The retired sheriff with whom Youngkin campaigned did win election to the statehouse, but Democrats retained their Senate majority and flipped the House of Delegates, wins that they said were powered by their promises to protect abortion rights.
Youngkin, who is barred by the state constitution from running for a second consecutive four-year term, will spend the final two years in office operating under continued divided government. That will limit his ability to enact his agenda and force him to negotiate with the new Democratic legislative majority.
And persistent chatter about Youngkin possibly making a last-minute entry into the 2024 presidential race is expected now to quiet.
That was the first question Youngkin fielded Wednesday at the news conference: What did this mean for a White House run?
“I have answered this question the same way for a long time which is, I am focused on Virginia,” Youngkin responded. “I have been in Virginia. My name is not on the ballot in New Hampshire. I have not been in Iowa and in South Carolina.”