Richmond, VA –In a recent story in The Washington Post, Virginia Republicans and Democrats, and other nonpartisan figures called Governor Youngkin’s attempt to force Loudoun School Board elections a clear example of executive overreach and an attempt to subvert our democracy.
The Washington Post: Youngkin’s move to force Loudoun school board elections called ‘troubling’
By Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella
- Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to force the entire Loudoun County School Board to face new elections this fall, shortening the terms of most of its members, stunned many state political observers as an intrusion into local election integrity without modern precedent in Virginia.
- The plan — aimed at a school board that Youngkin has made a constant political target — initially won approval from the Republican-controlled House of Delegates during a reconvened General Assembly session Wednesday. But the Democratic-controlled Senate killed it, with one Republican senator joining the vote against a measure he called “troubling.”
- “We can’t just get to a place where, because we so oppose someone, we’re going to unilaterally shorten their term,” Sen. David R. Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) said in an interview Friday.
- Democrats were far harsher, with many calling the effort a threat to democracy and one comparing Youngkin (R) to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- “From a democracy standpoint, it’s just bad,” said Jennifer Victor, a political scientist at George Mason University whose area of study includes elections and legislative organizations. “For governors to be getting involved in changing the rules in a local election — it just runs counter to all of the goals we have for how elections and democracies are supposed to run.”
- But A.E. Dick Howard, a University of Virginia law professor who oversaw the drafting of the latest version of the Virginia Constitution, adopted in 1971, called Youngkin’s amendment “a troubling proposal,” and said it was likely without modern precedent.
- He [Howard] counted at least three ways the proposal appeared to run afoul of the state constitution.
- Del. David Reid (D-Loudoun), who sponsored the original bill, said he had gotten no warning from the governor’s office about the proposed changes. Since the proposal came out, though, Reid said constituents deluged his office with concerns. “Responses have been running 99 to one in opposition to the governor’s amendments,” he said.
- Victor, the GMU political scientist, said she sees irony in the situation — Youngkin, who ran in part on a pledge to ensure election integrity and has made empowering parents his mantra, now attempting to cast aside a valid election.
- “This is legitimately trying to usurp the authority of local governments to run their own elections,” Victor said. “This certainly seems like an example of executive overreach.”
- “What worked for the governor to get elected in Virginia — being somewhat vague on policy — isn’t as useful when it comes to building your national profile,” Farnsworth said. “And when you’re competing against Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott for national Republican attention, shooting hoops isn’t going to cut the mustard.”