Richmond, VA — It has long been clear that Glenn Youngkin is advancing a hardline anti-reproductive rights agenda -- including his plan to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Youngkin has also told voters he intends to lie to them about his real views because he knows they are too extreme for Virginia.
Now, new reporting is showing how Youngkin plans to enact his far-right agenda: by funding extreme Republican candidates he hopes to bring to Richmond. See below for key excerpts and read the full report here.
Salon: Virginia GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin tries to pivot away from Trump — but there's nowhere to go
By Igor Derysh
Glenn Youngkin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Virginia's crucial off-off-year election, was caught on video saying he has to keep his anti-abortion views quiet to avoid alienating independent voters. His super PAC, however, has showered cash on down-ballot Republicans with extreme anti-choice views. [...]
During the Republican primary campaign, Youngkind vowed to "protect the life of every Virginia child, born and unborn," but admitted more recently that he has gone quiet on the issue because it could cost him independent votes. [...]
"I'm going to be really honest with you. The short answer is in this campaign, I can't," Youngkin said in the video, which was first obtained by The American Independent and MSNBC, when asked if he would defund Planned Parenthood and "take it to the abortionists."
"When I'm governor and I have a majority in the House we can start going on offense," he said. "But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won't win my independent votes that I have to get." [...]
Jamie Lockhart, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, told Salon she was "shocked" that Youngkin "admitted that he's deceiving Virginians to get their votes, flip the legislature, and strip us of essential health care."
Days later, Youngkin again avoided any discussion of abortion at a campaign event aimed at women voters with former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, refusing to answer questions on the topic even as Planned Parenthood supporters protested outside the event.
"Youngkin's candid-camera moment will be fodder for the Democrats throughout the campaign," Mark J. Rozell, the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, told Salon. "It's not just that he admitted he supports an unpopular view in Virginia on abortion, but that he admitted that what he says to try to get elected is different from what he will do if elected. The issue becomes not only abortion rights, but trust. If he seeks to beguile voters on this issue, what about other ones? It was a classic rookie campaign mistake." [...]
Democrats are likely to feature Youngkin's comment in countless campaign ads this fall.
"It reminded me of Romney's 47% comment," Ben Tribbett, a longtime Virginia Democratic consultant, said in an interview with Salon. "It's the kind of thing that's gonna haunt him all the way through the election, undercutting his ability to move to the middle and be a moderate, because he's basically announced that he's not going to be forthright with people. That is a really bad place for an undefined politician to be."
Virginia has not voted for a Republican in a statewide race in more than a decade and Democrats won full control of the state legislature in 2019. So it's easy to see why Youngkin would want to shy away from expressing increasingly unpopular positions. But his financial contributions would seem to speak for themselves.
Youngkin earlier this year launched the Virginia Wins PAC and made a seven-figure commitment to fund "Republican candidates for every level of government" to try to reverse the state's leftward shift. Many of those GOP candidates hold extreme anti-abortion views. The PAC's campaign finance disclosure shows that Youngkin was its only financial backer, making a $400,000 contribution in March.
"Glenn Youngkin and his extreme allies are threatening to drag Virginia backwards," Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party, said in a statement to Salon. "With Republicans across the country fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade and a right-wing Supreme Court poised to do so, Virginia's next governor must be committed to protecting the right to choose."
Financial disclosures show that Youngkin's PAC has donated at least $33,500 to anti-choice down-ballot Republicans.
Virginia Wins has given $5,500 to support state House candidate Karen Greenhalgh, a former manager at a chain of so-called pregnancy crisis centers, which often trick women seeking abortions into going to "fake clinics" where they are dissuaded from the procedure, sometimes in misleading ways. Greenhalgh has called for a broad range of restrictions on health care facilities that provide abortions.
The PAC also donated $1,500 to Republican state House candidate Tim Anderson, a gun shop owner who has vowed to fight legislation that he says would allow for the "murder of a sustainable baby" and called for more Supreme Court justices like Amy Coney Barrett "to keep extreme ideas like abortions at any stage from becoming law." If elected, he has vowed to donate 100% of his government salary to pregnancy crisis centers.
Youngkin's PAC has steered $3,000 to back Tim Cox, who supports legislation "prohibiting abortion from [the] moment of conception," defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing a bill passed last year to allow coverage of abortion under the state's Obamacare exchange plans.
The PAC sent another $3,000 donation recipient to Carrie Coyner, who has criticized insurance coverage of abortion procedures and vowed to fight for a measure that "blocks the use of state money for abortion." Coyner, a first-term member of the House of Delegates, has consistently voted against rolling back abortion restrictions in the state.
The PAC has also doled out $5,500 to "pro-life" Republican Mike Cherry; $5,500 to Nick Clemente, who has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood; $3,000 to Maria Martin, who says she is running to "protect the unborn"; $3,000 to Sylvia Bryant, who pledged to defund Planned Parenthood; $3,000 to Roxann Robinson, who voted against lifting abortion restrictions; and $3,000 to Steve Pleickhardt, who supports defunding Planned Parenthood and banning abortions after 20 weeks.
"Youngkin says he wants to go 'on offense' and these Republican candidates his PAC is supporting, if elected, would be his teammates in passing extreme anti-abortion legislation," Lockhart said. "They not only would move to rebuild the recently repealed obstacle course of delays and restrictions to access abortion care, but they would seek to pass a radical abortion ban like the one in Texas, which banned abortion at six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant." [...]
Youngkin's abortion slip-up highlights the larger difficulties the increasingly conservative Republican Party has in winning over voters in a state that has consistently moved to the left over the last decade. [...]
Trump has thrown his full support behind Youngkin, giving him his "Complete and Total Endorsement" hours after Youngkin defeated six other Republicans, including one who had dubbed herself "Trump in heels." [...]
It may be difficult for Youngkin to shed Trump's toxicity in the state. Youngkin refused to acknowledge Biden as the legitimate president during the Republican primary, and has since promoted an "Election Integrity Task Force" in an obvious nod to Trump's false claims of election fraud.
"Trump represents so much of why I'm running," Youngkin told voters during the primary as he pushed to enact voting restrictions. [...]
Threading a needle between Trump's base and the independent voters he needs to win over, Youngkin has had difficulty forming a legitimate campaign platform. He has repeatedly criticized Biden's COVID relief bill as "unnecessary," opposed a minimum wage increase to $15, and opposed paid family and medical leave. He has slammed the state's Medicaid expansion while calling for expanded gun rights. [...]
"The Virginia GOP believed that they found exactly the right candidate to appeal to the conservative base while appearing moderate enough to win over swing voters," Rozell said. "Youngkin himself to this point is having trouble trying to appeal to both groups of voters."
Tribbett agreed that Youngkin "did a lot of things right" in the primary by positioning himself as the best general election candidate, but said that narrative is now "falling flat."
"Anytime you take a position that's not exactly what the Trump position is, you're trying to thread a needle," he said. "I think he's just been paralyzed in fear of alienating his base, so he's not really attempted to thread the needle but also hasn't energized the base. I can't think of a worse place for a candidate to be: someone who's not energizing their own base and is afraid to reach out to moderates and independents."