Alex Isenstadt is, arguably, Politico's top reporter and his posts are always widely read, including this morning's piece on Glenn Youngkin's thrust into national politics. But before we get into it, I want to point out an equally interesting twitter thread by Judy Stern Levine about the new Florida law, HB7, which forbids critical race theory from being taught in math classes from K-12 in her state, Florida. She pointed out that the new law "has resulted in only ONE publisher of textbooks in the country, Houston-based Accelerated Learning, to be eligible to supply books to the State of Florida, out of ALL of the publishers of textbooks in the country!"
She instantly started wondering who this company is and why is it the only one in this very lucrative situation. "Well, this morning on the front page of the Palm Beach Post it all seemed to fall into place. The company, Accelerated Learning, is a Houston-based text book publishing company. My thoughts immediately went to what is their connection to Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party? It turns out that up until 2020, the CEO of The Carlyle Group, the global investment group that acquired Accelerated in 2018, was none other than the newly-elected governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He had been with Carlyle for 25 years. Since taking office, Youngkin has pushed legislation that mimics Florida's almost to the letter. Meaning, the company that he was affiliated with until running for government, would benefit from legislation he's pushing through. How many other Republican states are going to do the same thing, only get their textbooks from this one company? Here's hoping that some industrious reporter does a really deep dive into the connection between DeSantis and this company to see how much they have contributed to his re-election campaign and to Youngkin's campaign."
That isn't where Isenstadt was going though. His report this morning is about two PACs Youngkin launched, one to help Republican governors and one to target Democrats in Congress and the state legislature, Spirit of Virginia and a sewer money PAC for right-wing dark money called America’s Spirit. "Spirit of Virginia," wrote Isenstadt, "has already started to promote Youngkin’s agenda, running TV ads urging members of the state Legislature to pass his proposed budget. It is unclear which out-of-state races Youngkin will choose to target. Thirty-six states are holding governor’s contests this year, including 16 that feature Democratic incumbents. People familiar with Youngkin’s plans say he is looking at several ways of engaging, including through donating money and holding campaign-style events.
The 55-year-old Youngkin, who was formerly an executive at the Carlyle Group, a prominent private equity firm, has neither teased a prospective 2024 campaign nor explicitly closed the door on one. Asked if he had any interest in running during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box last week, Youngkin said only: “I’ve got a new job in Virginia, and I’m extremely excited to be doing it.”
Youngkin’s apparatus could also be used in next year’s Virginia state legislative races, when Republicans will look to achieve full control of the General Assembly for Youngkin’s final two years as governor. While Republicans have the majority in the state House of Delegates, Democrats currently control the state Senate.
Ron Wright, a member of the Republican Party of Virginia’s state central committee, argued that the governor could help to knock off several Democratic congressional incumbents in the coming November elections, noting that in last year’s election he made inroads with traditional Democratic constituencies, including among Latino voters.
“Those issues that he’s run on haven’t gone away,” Wright said, adding that Youngkin’s status as a nationally recognized figure would be a boon to the state’s down-ballot Republican candidates. “You get Gov. Youngkin in there campaigning, he’ll do well.”
Virginia Republicans are targeting two worthless conservative Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Blue Dog Abigail Spanberger and New Dem Elaine Luria. A significant Youngkin cash infusion into the two races could make the difference.
Spanberger has moved into a safer, bluer district which would have given her trouble in a primary had any Democrat decided to take her on. None did. (Her old district was R+5 and the new one is D+2.) She has 9 GOP opponents, 4 of whom had raised significant funds by March 31, although all dwarfed by Spanberger's $4,124,673:
Derrick Anderson- $521,023
State Sen. Bryce Reeves- $519,038
Stafford County Board Chair Crystal Vanuch- $483,589
Prince William Co. Supervisor Yesli Vega- $356,810
Luria's district went from R+2 to a dismal R+6, probably impossible for a Democrat in the current political environment, especially one, like Luria, who has turned off progressives. She has 4 GOP challengers, 2 of whom have raised enough money to go yup against the $4,037,414 she has raised:
State Sen. Jen Kiggans- $1,095,632
2020 candidate Jerome Bell- $413,066
Spanberger might make it through, but Luria is a dead duck and Kiggans is the likely next Member of Congress from VA-02. Luria was terrible; Kiggans will be far worse.